Environmental security in Bhutan and lessons for BD
The Himalayan region, consisting of five countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, and Nepal are usually characterized by large population, limited land resources and frequent natural calamities. In particular, Nepal and Bhutan have climate adaptation policies and strategies, National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA), Village Development Committee (VDCs); they even ensure public participation in local environmental management programmes.
Specifically, Bhutan is a great example in South Asia for growth of national happiness. It includes ? promotion of good governance, equitable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of culture and conservation of the environment. By the blessings of Shintoism (love to nature and people) and eco-friendly policies, forest resources in Bhutan act as mega carbon sinks. The government of Bhutan encourages the masses for cycling and walking to their work places.
The country has also imposed fees and time limits for parking cars in urban centers. Also, it has huge hydropower generation potentials of about 30,000 MW. The running river system has the prospects for generating an enormous amount of hydropower. Exploiting this region's hydropower potentials may meet the demands of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India.
According to World Bank, there are four financial benchmarks to identify the development and social health - lower income country (1025 US$), lower middle income country (1026-4035 US$), middle income country (4036-12475 US$) and high income country (12475 US$). But there is the question - per capita incomes do not imply the people's collective security or wellbeing. India is a great example - their per capita income stands at 1800 US$ but yet 70% people's income is under 1.25 US$. It's very important to mention that a small country such Bhutan takes its gross domestic happiness seriously. The country is trying to enhance its ecological stability and people's welfare. Bhutan considers basically - mental stability, utilization of time, community strengths, peoples physical wellbeing, cultural diversity, quality of life, health, education, good governance, forest biodiversity and ecological security to measure their collective development.
In Bangladesh, we have different types of public policies to deal with environmental degradation. The government enacts environmental laws ? Environment policy,1992; Environment Conservation Act, 1995(amendments 2000, 2002); Forest Policy, 1994; Environmental Conservation Rules, 1997; Environment Court Act, 2000(amendment, 2002); The Wildlife Preservation Order, 1973; The Forest Act, 1927 (amendment 1990, 2000); Bio-safety Guidelines of Bangladesh, 2007; National Biodiversity Framework, 2007; Bangladesh Bio-safety Rules, 2010; to provide guidance to people and to restrain them from misusing environmental resources. In many cases such laws lack implementation, as enforcement is not mostly followed. No matter how good the planning is and how adequate the policies and the laws are for dealing with environmental degradation and conservation of resources, these will not work unless society is free from the altered form.
By 2030, Bangladesh aims to meet the development criterion of sustainable development. Bhutan can well be the learning point for Bangladesh. Bangladesh can too similarly integrate environmental security policies with its economic growth in this regard.
In this context, political government may set up a common ground to take innovative ideas on ecological stability and sustainable ecology from different parties. Also Public should become much aware and collect information on the topic so to include our people in environmental security.
The writer is environmental analyst and Associate Member of Bangladesh Economic Association