On 5 June 2018, the Bangladesh National Committee of IUCN Members organised a symposium to celebrate World Environment Day at the National Press Club in Dhaka. The presenters at the symposium discussed the theme of this year’s World Environment Day (“Beat Plastic Pollution”) and focussed on reducing the use of plastic, and therefore plastic pollution. Other pressing national and global environmental issues were also discussed.
The progamme was attended by people from different environmental and civil organisations, IUCN Members, reporters, and the general public. Mr. Anisul Islam Mahmud, MP, Honourable Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Government of Bangladesh, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Other presenters included representatives from IUCN Member organisations, namely Mrs. Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud, Chair of the Bangladesh National Committee of IUCN Members; Ms. Sharmeen Soneya Murshid, Brotee; Dr. Abdur Rob Mollah, NACOM; Dr. Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, Unnayan Onneshan; and Ms. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, BELA; as well as Mr. Raquibul Amin, Country Representative for IUCN Bangladesh.
Mrs. Moudud started the programme with a welcome address. She mentioned that plastic pollution is a major environmental concern worldwide, as it is in Bangladesh. She also emphasised the importance of keeping the environment healthy in order to sustain life and for the future generations.
Ms. Murshid, Brotee, presented on the water quality of the rivers around Dhaka. She pointed out that the water of the rivers surrounding Dhaka is increasingly becoming untreatable and there is severe risk of food chain contamination.
Dr. Mollah, NACOM, highlighted that there has been tremendous loss of biodiversity due to pollution, especially in the river systems of Bangladesh. He pointed out that use of plastic is one of the main causes of environmental pollution, and the use of plastic should be reduced at any cost.
Ms. Hasan, BELA, focussed on river encroachment and pollution. She mentioned that while the government has taken some great initiatives, strict policies need to be put into place in order to ensure that the environment is protected by individuals.
Dr. Titumir, Unnayan Onneshan, talked about sustainable development and the need to ensure a clean environment for the future generations. He used examples of the effects of development near the Sundarbans mangrove forest in support of his points.
Mr. Amin, IUCN Bangladesh, presented the on-going efforts of IUCN-UNHCR for a peaceful co-existence between elephants and the displaced population living in Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar. He also talked about the steps taken to reduce the use of plastic as well as plastic pollution in the world’s largest refugee settlement.
The Honourable Minister, Mr. Anisul Islam Mahmud said “the government is fully committed to protect the environment and nature.” Mr. Mahmud reiterated that tougher actions would be taken against polluters. He also emphasised changing consumers’ behaviour to reduce plastic.
The event ended with a vote of thanks by Dr. Nilufar Banu, Vice Chair of the Bangladesh National Committee of IUCN Members.