Bangladesh, in pursuit of Sustainable Development





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Published on Nov 7, 2012

During the last decade, Bangladesh's stable economic growth has managed to lift millions of people out of poverty.

However, the environment has taken a heavy toll, inequalities have increased, and the country has appeared to be highly vulnerable to climate change. New challenges include the melting of the Himalayas, changing rainfall patterns, increased floods and cyclones, pollution, sea level rise and a decrease in agricultural production.

Among all the population, the poor are the most vulnerable and affected by these changes.

The United Nations Poverty-Environment Initiative works with the National Planning Commission to reverse environmental degradation in a way that benefits the poor and allows sustainable economic development.

One of its key achievements has been to ensure government's procedures and development strategies promote this new direction of development.

For instance, to be financed, projects proposed by all Ministries now need to perform well on a series of sustainability and fairness indicators. This includes the % of poor people that benefit from the project, its impact on natural resources or the resistance of infrastructure to climate change.
Besides, government officials that propose these projects are being trained to design sustainable interventions. Training topics vary from the value of mangroves to the economy to concrete examples of climate adaptation measures such as coastal afforestation with community participation.

To see change on the ground, technical support is provided to improve 28 ongoing government projects in agriculture; water, transport and rural development that have been selected for the groundbreaking way they reverse environmental degradation, while reducing poverty and improving climate resilience. Once improved, these projects can be replicated all over Bangladesh.

One of these projects is located in Sunamgonj district. Over the last decade, communities from Sunamgonj district had suffered from a dramatic drop in fish stocks, increased floods and a decrease in agricultural production.

This was enough for the local government-engineering department to launch a multi million project to improve the community's ability to manage natural resources. The project established safe breeding spaces for fish such as cages and small-protected areas close to forest swamps. This was coupled with the construction of environmentally friendly roads resistant to natural hazards that would improve the access of communities to local markets, education and sanitation. Lastly, the project also helped communities to access credit to invest in agriculture.

PEI provided technical support to make sure the project was resilient to climate change, green and fair. This included recommendations to improve the water management system, to introduce crops resistant to climate change, and to increase floating gardens and fish cage culture.

Today, fish stocks have drastically increased and like Abdul Mazid's family, the livelihood of another 100,000 households has been improved.

The Government of Bangladesh can be considered a pioneer in the region for its commitment to support quality sustainable development projects. And for the way it has trained people that take development decisions to build a sustainable future for Bangladesh.


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