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Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) was launched in 2000 to create a nation wide, united, and strong civic movement to protect Bangladesh’s environment. The environment of Bangladesh is deteriorating fast. Urban air quality is plummeting. Ground water is contaminated. Surface water bodies are getting polluted, encroached, and degraded. Solid, fluid, gaseous, and hazardous wastes are overflowing. Forests and open spaces are disappearing. Noise is increasing. Bio-diversity is vanishing. Health conditions are worsening due to pollution. Unless these processes of degradation are slowed down and reversed, the country’s economic, social, cultural, and human progress will be gradually hampered, and Bangladesh will become unlivable in the long-term.

Unfortunately, the efforts by the government are not proving adequate to meet the threat. In fact, ill conceived and ill implemented government projects, corruption and poor governance are often aggravating the situation. On the other hand, isolated efforts by various non-governmental and civic organizations are also proving inadequate to meet the challenge.

In this backdrop, pro-environment forces of Bangladesh gathered at the International Conference on Bangladesh Environment (ICBEN) in January 2000 to discuss Bangladesh’s environmental problems and chart out actions for the future. The conference adopted Dhaka Declaration on Bangladesh Environment 2000 and suggested formation of a unified platform for all sincere pro-environment forces of the country to join and work together. Following the decisions of ICBEN 2000, BAPA was formed.

BAPA’s concrete objectives are:

1.  To stop the process of further environmental degradation in Bangladesh.
2.  To reverse, where possible, the damage that has already been done to the environment.
3. To build up a nationwide, united, civic movement to achieve the aims of stopping and reversing    environmental degradation in Bangladesh.
Modus Operandi

Program committees: To accomplish its mission, BAPA has formed program committees focusing on different environmental issues. Comprised of experts and activists, these program committees are studying respective issues and organizing necessary campaigns, in the form of seminars, conferences, public rallies, deputations, memorandum, press conferences, publications, etc.

Strategic issues: BAPA has identified issues concerning (i) rivers, (ii) energy, and (iii) ethnic minorities and the environment of their habitat, as three major strategic issues and have been engaging with these issues on a sustained basis and with due emphasis.

Reaching out to districts: BAPA is promoting pro-environment activities in different districts of the country. It is building connections with local pro-environment organizations that have already developed and is helping such organizations to develop in areas where they do not exist now. BAPA is coordinating and uniting local level efforts in order to give the environment movement a truly national character.

Regional efforts: Realizing that many environmental problems of Bangladesh, in particular the problems concerning her rivers, are of regional scope, BAPA is reaching out to pro-environment organizations and individuals of India and other countries of the sub-continent to develop a sub-continent wide movement to confront these problems.

International efforts: Realizing that (i) many environmental problems are globally linked, (ii) Bangladesh is going to be profoundly affected by global warming and climate changes, and (iii) Bangladesh needs internal support to establish her legitimate rights over the trans-boundary rivers, BAPA is establishing connections with and participating in various pro-environmental efforts globally.
BAPA’s accomplishments

BAPA has already been able to bring about certain positive changes in Bangladesh environment. Working together with other pro-environment forces, BAPA has been successful to
a) make the government implement removal of two-stroke engine vehicles (TSEV) that were one of the major causes of urban air pollution in Bangladesh;
b) make the government to put an end to the use of leaded gasoline in Bangladesh;
c) make the government re-impose the ban on the use of polythene bags;
d) encourage and spread the environment movement to various districts of Bangladesh;
e) organize the International Conference on Bangladesh Environment (ICBEN) 2002, leading to the publication of volumes containing up to date information on and analysis of all major environmental problems of Bangladesh and updating Dhaka Declaration on Bangladesh Environment to 2002;
f) initiate a river saving movement in Dhaka, leading to the removal of many structures encroaching rivers in and around Dhaka.
g) organize the International Conference on Regional Cooperation on Transboundary Rivers (ICRCTR) 2004 to draw attention to the likely impact of the proposed Indian River Linking Project (IRLP) and leading to the publication of the volume that is now the most comprehensive source of information and analysis regarding IRLP;
h) adopt a comprehensive Resolution on Rivers that reveals the flaws of the Commercial Approach to rivers and argues for the Ecological Approach to rivers;
i) initiate a country-wide river saving movement through organization of the National Conference on Rivers in 2006; and
j) organize the National Conference on Energy and Environment to discuss and adopt the comprehensive Resolution on Energy, as a guide for future sustained campaign on these issues.

Role of non-resident Bangladeshis

The civic society of Bangladesh is no longer limited to the geographic boundary of Bangladesh. A large Bangladeshi Diaspora has developed, and members of this Diaspora, non-resident Bangladeshis (NRB), are now taking an active part in Bangladesh’s social life, thanks to the ease in communication. Accordingly, pro-environment NRBs, through their global network, Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN) are playing an active role in Bangladesh’s pro-environment efforts. BEN played a crucial role in organizing ICBEN and in forming BAPA. BAPA is Bangladesh’s first civic movement that is a joint effort of resident and non-resident Bangladeshis. BEN is playing a crucial role in BAPA through its support and cooperation.

BAPA: A unique organization

BAPA has several unique features. The first is the active participation of non-resident Bangladeshis. Second, BAPA is a self-financed, member-supported organization. BAPA is therefore not a NGO. BAPA wants to practice and spread the principle of self-reliance. Financial self-reliance allows BAPA to take an independent and objective view of Bangladesh’s environmental issues and their possible solutions. BAPA’s self-reliance and independence are getting increasing recognition. Third, BAPA has an innovative organizational structure allowing both organizations and individuals to be its members. Such a flexible structure is making it easy for all sincere pro-environment forces to gather in BAPA

Join BAPA!

Bangladesh is gradually progressing toward an environmental disaster. It will be difficult to avert this disaster unless wide-ranging vigorous efforts are adopted on a timely basis, some requiring immediate actions.. BAPA has launched a movement against the possible disaster. BAPA appeals to all environment conscious individuals, organizations, and institutions to join this movement. Let’s unite to protect Bangladesh’s environment for us and our future generations. It is our noble duty!