Environmental sustainability: Nepal, Bhutan, Japan and BD
Development depends on home grown philosophy. Japan has developed their strategy by considering society and people. They take decision or implement any project by taking ideas from different ministries. Such as, Ministry of environment, Ministry of forest and fisheries, Ministries of education, Ministry of law, Ministry of agriculture, Ministry of construction, Ministry of international trade and industry. Such kind of combination helps them for sustainable environmental management. In Bangladesh, we have to reform the environmental law and policy. We can take the different ideas about the collective approach from different ministries of Bangladesh in terms of environmental management.
We can divide the different tasks among the different ministries. Combination among the ministry of environment, forest, fisheries, agriculture, trade, education, law will help us to take better policy, manage the environment and control the environmental pollution. The government of Japan allows the participation of general people in development policy making. They open the floor for public to obtain different comments. This culture in Japan provides a useful instrument for incorporating public opinion. The open floor culture is invisible in Bangladesh. General people do not share their ideas or concept with political government. Basically the extract of development enjoys the people. So in this case, participation of general people in policy making is essential in Bangladesh. The common development philosophy in Japan is decentralization. National govt divides their responsibility on local govt. for project implementation. Local government in Japan is responsible about sewage collection, treatment, material recycling, disposal and sanitation. In Bangladesh, we see the people of village area are deprived to get basic services for environmental issues.
Pollution control and sustainable development in Japan
Pollution control agreements were popularized after 1964 and it was first signed by the Yokohama city government and Tokyo electric power company. The main purpose of the Tokyo electric power company was to maintain the emission standards by city government. In Bangladesh, different companies such as BEXIMCO or SQUARE limited, they can negotiate with City Corporation. It can be that different industries will follow the city corporation rules and regulations; they will not throw their accumulated waste on water body, they will use less inimical chemicals, they will increase production without destroying public and environmental health and they will pay compensate to the environmentally affected people. Nowadays, many companies in Bangladesh are marketing their products without considering the food security and environmental health. Environmental planning and management is a comprehensive discipline which considers all aspects of interactive processes between man and environment, environmental problems arising there form, control and management thereof. In Japan, they maintain harmonious coexistence, international activities, public participation, and sound material cycle, safe, secure and high quality of life.
The primary responsibility of Japanese companies is to appoint the pollution supervisors and pollution control managers to reduce the industrial pollution. They can operate the waste treatment plant and effluent plant to decompose the waste material. Besides, many Japanese industries have energy saving managers. Their responsibility is to increase energy efficiency and to conserve fuel, electricity, heat and any other energy source.
They are motivated to perform that maximizes benefits and minimizes costs to their industries. They are about 65% pollution control department among the Japanese industries. They are about 23,000 pollution control supervisors and 40,000 pollution control managers. There are a lot of industries in Bangladesh. Such as, leather, textile, pulp and paper, sugar etc. They can follow the pollution control strategy of Japan. Every industry of Bangladesh can recruit a pollution control officers to drive the effluent treatment plant.
Most of the industries in Bangladesh do not care the environmental law. They do not care green, orange, red to drive industry. But we have to save our environment for better future. Business leaders only think about the industrial production and profit as well as capital accumulation. Such kind of mentality degrades our air, water, soil quality and their management. Law and its implementation are very strict in Japan. As a result, business leaders follow the environmental laws and they feel the pressure from society to deal industrial pollution. The business leaders of Bangladesh can follow the mental faculty of Japanese business leaders to reduce industrial pollution for environmental stability. We need to consider both the health of people and environmental health. As we need an equal development from the aspects of economy and environment.
Environmental sustainability in Himalayan region
In Himalayan region, five countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, and Nepal characterized by large population, limited land resources and frequent natural hazards. In particular, Nepal and Bhutan has climate adaptation policies and strategies, National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA), Village Development Committee (VDCs); even they ensure public participation in local environmental management.
Specifically, Bhutan is a great example in South Asia for growth national happiness. It includes promotion of good governance, equitable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of culture and conservation of the environment. Through 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 mass people for cycling and walking to the working areas.
Bhutan has also imposed fees and time limits for parking cars in urban centres. Also, she has a hydropower generation potential of about 30,000 MW. The running river system has a first-rate prospect for generating an enormous amount of hydropower. Exploitation of this region's hydropower potential meets the demands of Nepal and Bhutan, but also Bangladesh and India.
According to World Bank, there are four criteria 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 question the per capita income do not imply the peoples collective security or wellbeing. India is a great example - their per capita income 1800 US$ but still there are 70% peoples income under 1.25 US$. It's very important to mention that a small country Bhutan takes it gross domestic happiness. They are trying to enhance their 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.
Till 2030, Bangladesh wants to fulfil the development criteria of sustainable development. Bhutan can be learning point for Bangladesh if she integrates environmental security and economic growth. In this context, political government may set up a common ground to take innovative thoughts on ecological stability and sustainable ecology from different parties. Public should be increase their right to consciousness to ask concerned authority and own sense, are we combine our peoples and environmental security.
Shintoism and environmental stability
'Shintoism' is a religious philosophy in south-east Asia. It is highly practiced in Japan. It implies to love with nature, saves people and environment. Through practicing Shintoism, Japan has been developed home grown development philosophy in terms of environmental security by power sharing strategy among administrative actors, relative decentralization within vertical administration, environment oriented corporate culture, power of local government and pollution control agreements.
It is true for Bangladesh as, a gap between policy formation and enforcement of environmental regulations is widely characterized less transparent functioning of environmental institution, poor administrative practices, lack of manpower and public participation in the grassroots level. Nature based philosophy is still at rudimentary stage here. A strict command and control approach based on the 'polluters to pay principle' is not usually welcomed by the business and industry in Bangladesh. Big multinational corporate bodies attempt to shift their industries to places where they can take the advantage of weak laws.
Environmental problems usually involve multiple sectors requiring a holistic approach to address. Our psychological positions usually located at two extreme ends of environmentalism add further to problem. An eco-centric approach usually considers the intrinsic value of nature and attempts to conserve the environment while an anthropocentric approach usually puts emphasis on human well-being considering that nature would be conserved to get benefits from them. This is not a sustainable way, true love and humane outlook towards nature.
We are now living in a world where the existence of human being depends on the components of nature. We allowed Dhaka city to grow in an unplanned way hosting more than 18 million people. Water and energy supply, sewage system, green waste management, food security, shelter, noise security, recreation and transport system is still deficient. In the absence of land zoning and land use systems, environmental pollution has become nastiest. We have failed to realize ? rivers, canals, wetlands, aquifers, plants, air, land have a specific carrying capacity. This is not Shintoism - true love towards nature, people and environment.
Time demands to deal with economic growth and upcoming environment challenges together. Government should develop our institutional and technical capacity to explore and manage our natural resources with minimum environmental footprints at local, regional and national level of the country. We possibly will materialize 'home grown development philosophies' with the help of Shintoism for environmental sustainability in Bangladesh. The implementation of both 'carrot and stick' (reward and punishment) can be an effective elucidation through environmental laws and policies in our country.
The writer is environmental analyst & Associate Member of Bangladesh Economic Association