Keeping the theme ‘connecting people to nature’ Bangladesh Water Partnership (BWP) has celebrated World Environment Day 2017 by various programs at Barisal, Bangladesh. The celebration had 3 components namely Seminar/workshop, Video presentation and Parliamentary Debate competition.
BWP’s Barisal members organizations jointly celebrated the programs or activities to raise awareness of people to save the coastal belt area from environment and ecological hazards. The main objective of the event was to encourage citizens and youth to spread the word about connecting the nature and environment protection, enhance knowledge of young and organization members; by members, partners, civil society members, environmental activists, stakeholders, students with debate competition, professional address, video report presentation on the environmental situation of Barisal region, address of the distinguished guests, free opinion sharing session, elevator comments and final recommendations etc.
This year’s celebrations focus on encouraging people to get outdoors and into nature and feel its beauty and importance in order to protect the shared earth, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Environmental experts, Representative from local government agencies, Government Officials concerned to or involved with environment or ecology related issues, BWP Officials and members, CSOs representatives, Youth Leaders and media personalities have called all stakeholders for taking initiatives to raise mass awareness and promote local action on environmental conservation involving youths. They made the call while taking part in an interactive discussion titled “Conserve Environment and save our ecology” which held at 12 June in Jahan conference center, Barisal supported with Global Water Partnership South Asia and Bangladesh Water Partnership. BWP’s Barisal members organizations jointly celebrated this programs or activities to raise awareness of people to save the coastal belt area from environment and ecological hazards.
Dr. Engineer Khandokar Azaharul Haque, President of Bangladesh Water Partnership ( BWP ), honored as Chief Guest of the meeting along while special guest was Mr. Md. Sajidur Rahman Sardar, Chief Engineer, Water Development Board, Barisal, Mr. Arefin Badal, Assitant Director, Department of Environment, Barisal, Dr. Sayed Habibur Rahman, Chairman, Mannobodhikar Jot ( Collaboration for Human Rights ) Barisal, Ms. Israt Aman Rupa, Councilor, Barisal City Corporation. The keynote paper of the seminar was presented by Dr M. Hasinur Rahman, Din, Faculty of Biology, Barisal University, Barisal and Development organizer Mr. Kazi Jahngir Kabir presided over the meeting on the Dias. Save the Planet organizer Sohanur Rahman have moderated this seminar.
The meeting was started formally with welcome speech of Mr. Habibur Rahman Talukder, Executive Director, of Social Economic Development Society ( SEDS ) and Focal Point of Bangladesh Water Partnership ( BWP)’s Barisal. Upon the request of the President of the meeting, all members and guests attended the meeting presented their respective names with title or designation. Local nature conservationists, however, observed that the people of the country were mostly reluctant to protect natural resource-rich environment, thus appeared as destroyers of nature amid non-implementation of conservation laws and lack of awareness of the importance of healthy environment.
Key Note speaker Dr. Hasinur Rahman told on his speech that, In recent decades, scientific advances as well as growing environmental problems such as global warming are helping us to understand the countless ways in which natural systems support our own prosperity and well-being. For example, the world’s oceans, forests and soils act as vast stores for greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane; farmers and fisher-folk harness nature on land and under water to provide us with food; scientists develop medicines using genetic material drawn from the millions of species that make up Earth’s astounding biological diversity. Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate full well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation. Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees in the orchards of California to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a Himalayan valley.
Pointing to the government failure to sensitize people on green issues, they said that the country’s inbound tourism, targeting the natural resource-rich locations like the Sunderbans, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong Hill Tracts, hilly Sylhet and others, had been flourishing at the expense of the environment. Tourism sector people admitted that irresponsible tourism and relaxed implementation of the conservation acts had transformed the beautiful mangroves and sea beaches into waste dumping zones. Moderator Sohanur Rahman leading Youth Leader have presented 5 Wide screen video report presentation on the environmental situation of Barisal region, which was electronic media reports and video based reflections on various environmental degradation and ecological disaster in Barisal region, especially in Barisal city areas, who clearly showed how environment has been affected by unwise planning, illegal land occupation of the water bodies, ineffective project implementation mainly by government agencies etc.
Md. Sajidur Rahman Sardar adreesed, Global warming and Environmental degradation are almost synonymous and very important issues in Bangladesh context. Bangladesh is recognized as one of the most climate susceptible countries in the world due to its unique geographical location, hydrological regime and topography. It has funnel shaped coast of about 810 km long exposing the low land to cyclones and tidal surges, low lying topography experienced with seasonal flooding and tornados. It has widespread poverty, large population base and poor institutional strength. These make the country most vulnerable to climate change. Water related hazards, floods, drought, riverbank erosion, cyclonic events and storm surges are common in Bangladesh but increase in frequency and intensity of these hazards due to rapid climate change have been affecting hydrological regime, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and inland navigation sectors which has its negative impacts on both natural and social environment. Several national climate change initiatives (National Water Management Plan, National Adaptation Program of Action, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan) have included integrated developmental issues to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on natural environment and social lives and livelihoods ensuring sustainable development. These national climate change initiatives have been accentuated under the vulnerability and impact assessment of climate change for the water resources sector. The role of the youths is also narrated in the presentation.
Dr. Engineer Khandokar Azaharul Haque, Chairman Bangladesh Water Partnership ( BWP ) , Chief Guest of the meeting mainly spoke on the occasion. He stressed the local people should be involved from planning to implementation for all kinds of environmental conservation specially young people, he said, adding “There should be delicate balance between development and conservation and need of preservation of environment and specified various factors contribution to environmental degradation as well as ecological crisis in this region”. Mr. Azhar identified bad global leader like US President Donald Trump is the main threats of the climate injustice.
Following their address other guests on the Dias presented their short address on the purpose of the celebration meeting. They presented their recommendation which they asked to follow by the concerned authorities, NGOs, general people etc. stressed the immense need of mass awareness building.
Open discussion, evaluate comments and final recommendations by the audiences:
During the event, the local organizations working on environmental conservation shared their experience, success and lessons. The discussion focused on the challenges, opportunities, lessons learned and successes of the actions taken at local level that contribute to conserve the environment and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
They showed that, Youth are the heart of the society. If they lead into a specific direction, they can solve the challenges and try to overcome it with their innovative ideas. Youth of the Barisal community played a vital role in this. Many members from audiences participated in free opinion sharing session, question & answer, elevator comments session, open to all. The audiences are highly impressed of debate and key speakers’ address. They found two main causes contributing environmental degradation were 1. Higher pressure of high density of population and 2. Lack of technology. Other causes specified that general or ordinary mass are not being aware of environment properly by concerned authorities, NGOs etc and asked more concern to environment. Social Activist Shubhonkor Chakrobarty, Environmental activist Lincon Bayen, Development consultant Paul Saha, Women Rights worker Hasina Nila attended this discussion.
They specified various government departments corruptions are being mainly contributed environmental and ecological degradation, and asked more measures so that corruption among the some staffs in various government departments as well as law enforcing agencies to stop or prevent such widespread corruption or otherwise environmental or ecological crisis in Bangladesh can effectively reduced or prevented. They also evaluated the celebration purpose highly successful and will serve with more impacts in future intervention to prevent environmental degradation. At the concluding session of the celebration meeting all participants of the debate session were awarded with prize as well as trophy was given to winner and runners up. Guests addressed and attended the ceremony of distributing crest, medal and certificates among the competitors. The celebration meeting was closed with vote of thanks from the prominent development organizer Mr. Kazi Jahngir Kabir and President of celebration meeting