Policy Implications and Implementation of Environmental ICTPs in Developing States: Examples from Bangladesh

Article excerpt

A number of International Conventions, Treaties, and Protocols (ICTPs) have been produced around the world for years and decades, and Bangladesh has signed a number of ICTPs after independence in 1971. Although all those are inevitable, often the importance is not of the same magnitude. Like many other developing countries Bangladesh is also not in a position to fully implement the convention provisions. But the policy, legal instruments, and programs so far being implemented reflect participation in those initiatives. The principal constraint remains in the shortage of financial resources that need to be allocated for the implementation of projects.

The earth support system, regardless of political boundary, is rapidly changing principally due to overexploitation of its resources and the hostile use of technology to the environment. Developing nations of the South are confronted with poverty and deterioration of environment and ecosystems goes side by side. The only way to face the situation is to integrate the environment with development concerns. But no nation alone can be able without global initiative and platform to address the problems of today and to prepare the world for the future challenges. International agreements in the names of Conventions, Treaties, and Protocols (ICTPs) evolved in such a context.

Under the arena of global ICTPs, the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) signed a number of international treaties, conventions, and protocols each having a number of commitments and consequent implications. They vary in their importance, effectiveness, level of commitment and urgency to act on. These days, people around the world are more conscious about the environment and its conservation and protection. The environmental situation in Bangladesh made the urgency to take part in the global initiatives. The present study aims to have a focus on the policy instruments, their implications with the ICTPs and the status of implementation.

Bangladesh: Country Overview and Selected Environmental Issues

Bangladesh, with an area of 147,570 sq. km, lies between 20°34' - 26°38' N and 88°01' - 92°41' E. It is bounded by India to the west, the north and the north-east, by Myanmar to the south-east and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. The country enjoys a sub-tropical monsoon climate with a distinct dry season. In the winter (November-February) the temperature varies from 5° - 23°C, in the summer (March-June) the maximum temperature shoots up to 40°C while the monsoon starts in July and persists until October (FAO, 1988). The average annual rainfall varies from 1229 to 4338 mm (WARPO, 2000).

Forests cover about 14% of the country and per capita forest cover is 0.016 ha. In the 1980s, the rate of forest destruction was 8,000 hectares per annum and the annual deforestation rate is estimated to be 3.3%. Consequently, per capita forest land has declined from 0.035 ha in 1969 to 0.02 ha in 1990 (BBS, 1999). Table 1 shows the status of forest resources in Bangladesh (GOB, 1992).

125 species of mammals, 124 species of reptiles, 579 species of birds and 19 species of amphibians are recorded in the country. But the total number of species is decreasing everyday. At present, 40 species of mammals, 24 reptiles, and two amphibian species are listed as endangered. The number of extinct and threatened animals of Bangladesh is given in Table 2 (BBS, 2004).

Man-made air pollution is a major problem in the urban areas of the country. Air pollution in major cities like Dhaka and Chittagong has become a serious health concern. In Dhaka city, a huge fleet of motorized vehicles such as bus, minibus, truck, car, jeep, microbus, three wheelers and motorcycles emit toxic substances such as carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), oxides of sulphur (SOx), hydrocarbons and their derivatives, lead and particulate matter. As a result, blackening of the city air and reduced visibility can be observed in some areas at times even with naked eyes. …