The prestigious Tang Prize award recognised the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) as one of the three outstanding organisations under its Rule of Law awards category. BELA is an IUCN member, which devoted itself to developing and promoting sound environmental justice and jurisprudence in Bangladesh. The award ceremony was held on 21 June 2020 through a livestream conference.
The Tang Prize is a set of biennial international awards bestowed in four fields: Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law. Nomination and selection are conducted by an independent selection committee, which is formed in partial cooperation with the Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s top research institution.
The Prize in Rule of Law recognises individuals or institutions who have made significant contributions to the rule of law. This is reflected not only in the achievement of the candidates in terms of the advancement of legal theory or practice, but also in the realization of the rule of law in contemporary societies through the influences or inspiration of the work of the candidates.
BELA’s contribution is highlighted by its adherence to the rule of law and environmental justice through public interest litigation, advocacy, research, and publication. BELA also conducts capacity development for actors from the public sector and civil society.
To date, the organisation has initiated more than 250 public interest litigations and advocated for legislative reform for environmental justice. It has been successful in drawing courts to recognise environmental cases on behalf of people affected by environmental degradation. Cases under BELA’s wings include river pollution, industrial pollution, vehicular pollution, illegal construction, labor welfare, illegal mining, prevention of soil erosion, reduction of plastic use, wetland protection and prevention of pollution from shipwrecks.