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     Volume 11 |Issue 22| June 01, 2012 |


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World Environment Day 2012

Bangladesh: Embracing the Green Economy

Photo: Dedarul M Chisty, Let’s keep it green.

With 70 percent of Bangladesh's population dependent on natural resources (forests and wetlands) for their livelihoods and 95 percent of forests and 50 percent of freshwater wetlands either lost or degraded, the rising phenomenon of the 'Green Economy' offers a glimmer of hope to save Bangladesh's degrading ecosystems and livelihoods of a growing population.

Alison Darcy

June 5 is World Environment Day. As countries across the globe prepare to celebrate this annual event, Bangladesh focuses its attention on this year's theme 'Green Economy: Are you included?' The term Green Economy is no longer just a buzz word; it's a real opportunity for the world's least developed nations to embrace, if not lead the global trend into a Green Economy transition which in turn could lead to their accelerated development. With its rich biodiversity, economic conditions and natural and cultural assets, Bangladesh being most vulnerable to the effects of global climate change, is one of these countries.

The United Nations Development Programme defines Green Economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Simply, we can think of a green economy as an economic environment that achieves low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and at the same time is socially inclusive.

Bangladesh has in recent years embraced the 'Green Economy' with success stories such as Waste Concern and the Grameen Shakti Programme providing models of success and inspiration to other green business opportunities, both in Bangladesh and aboard.

Grameen's Shakti Programme (Grameen Energy) provides soft credits through different financial packages to make solar home systems available and affordable to rural populations. Grameen Shakti has to date installed more than 800,000 Solar Home Systems, making Bangladesh one of the countries with the fastest growing solar photovoltaic programmes in the world. Grameen Shakti aims to install more than one million Solar Home Systems by 2015: a target well within reach. While encouraging community participation through training local youth and women as technicians the project is also generating local employment opportunities and helping the Green Economy by greatly reducing the need for kerosene lamps and assisting in decreasing deforestation.

The conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity are the
foundations of a sustainable economy. Photo: Amirul Rajiv

Waste Concern a social business enterprise, is helping Dhaka win the battle against waste disposal by turning the city's waste environmental crisis into a thriving green business by collecting and recycling waste. Dhaka, a city with more than 16 million residents daily generates an excess of 3,000 tons of waste. The city collects less than half of this waste, the rest is left idle on road sides, in open drains and in low lying areas. With 60 percent of this organic and biodegradable, Waste Concern has utilised this waste into a successful composting scheme that provides organic fertilizer to the nation's farmers while significantly reducing the nation's greenhouse gas omissions. Waste Concern has proven to be a model of success, now been replicated in other Asian countries.

Grameen Shakti and Waste Concern are just two examples of Bangladesh's Green Economy in action. Improving the quality of the environment of which people's lives depend on, especially rural communities in developing countries, will inevitably contribute to poverty reduction while saving Bangladesh's degrading ecosystems.

The rise of the Green Economy in Bangladesh is key to improving the livelihoods of our people and saving our degrading ecosystems.

Why a Green Economy?
Conservation Unions, including the world's largest conservation union IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) urge that now more than ever we should be investing in nature to drive sustainable and economic growth. The conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity are the foundations of a sustainable economy. Water, food, shelter and energy are the building blocks upon which life and economic systems are built. The resilience of the global economy is intricately linked to the state of the environment. Business also affects, and needs, biodiversity. Across the globe billions of people work in the private sector, and business is a key driver of social and economic development. Some are beginning to see the value of biodiversity, the need to protect it, the need to invest in it.

The Green Economy is not just a passing craze or the buzz word of 2012, a closer alignment of our economic and environmental systems is an imperative that society can no longer afford to ignore. In moving into a Green Economy transition, it's critical that we include an important social dimension – it should deliver wellbeing for everyone. The transition to a green economy is therefore the critical task for achieving sustainable development - and a future where people and nature thrive.

The Green Economy Coalition is a diverse set of organissations and sectors from NGO's, research institutes, UN organisations, to businesses and trade unions. Their mission is to accelerate the transition into a new Green Economy with a vision of a resilient economy that provides a better quality of life for all within the ecological limits of the planet.

They have come together in recognition that our economy is failing to deliver either environmental sustainability or social equity. In short, our economic system is failing people and the planet.

World Environment Day, by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for environmental action. It is also a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations. Activities take place all year round but climax on June 5 every year.

World Environment Day celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

World Environment Day 2012 is set to be one of the biggest pre-Rio+20 events, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that will showcase individual actions towards achieving sustainable development.

For further information about World Environment Day, visit http://www.unep.org/wed/celebrate/
The writer is Communications officer, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


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