Dhaka,  Wednesday
29 May 2024

Disturbing facts about pollution

Urgent steps needed for environmental protection

Editor, The Daily Messenger

Published: 09:20, 31 March 2024

Urgent steps needed for environmental protection

Photo : Collected

The Bangladesh Country Environment Analysis (CEA) report by the World Bank paints a troubling picture of environmental pollution in Bangladesh. According to the report, an alarming 272,000 people die prematurely each year in the country due to environmental factors. These deaths are primarily attributed to air pollution, unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and lead pollution. The economic impact of this environmental degradation is substantial, amounting to 17.6 percent of Bangladesh's GDP in 2019.

Indoor and outdoor air pollution emerge as the leading cause of health issues, accounting for 55 percent of premature deaths. This figure translates to a staggering 8.32 percent of Bangladesh's 2019 GDP. The report was unveiled during a seminar jointly organised by the Bangladesh government and the World Bank Dhaka office, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital city.

The report underscores that individuals from marginalised communities, including the poor, children under 5 years old, the elderly, and women, bear the brunt of severe pollution and environmental health risks. Furthermore, it highlights the interconnectedness of environmental pollution with climate change, a phenomenon that inflicts significant harm on Bangladesh despite its minimal contribution to its causes.

Compounding the issue, a substantial portion (40 percent) of the available funds designated to address climate-related damages consists of debt, a less-than-ideal scenario. Moreover, Bangladesh's efforts to mitigate the risks of climate change have thus far proven inadequate. Unfortunately, the prioritisation of environmental concerns remains lacking in development and economic agendas, despite evidence from numerous countries that sustainable economic growth hinges on environmental preservation.

It is imperative to recognise that sustained economic advancement cannot be achieved at the expense of environmental degradation. Therefore, neglecting environmental protection and climate resilience jeopardises both the trajectory of robust growth and the enhancement of living standards for both urban and rural populations. Consequently, prioritising environmental preservation and climate resilience is crucial for Bangladesh's aspirations to ascend to an upper-middle-income status.

Regrettably, while the developed world is actively implementing measures to shield itself from the detrimental effects of pollution, Bangladesh finds itself at the opposite end of the spectrum. The recent Environmental Performance Index highlights this disparity, with Bangladesh ranking second from the bottom in terms of progress in pollution control. This alarming placement underscores the country's failure to accord equal importance to both development and environmental preservation.

Moreover, the grave impact of environmental pollution on children cannot be overstated. Lead poisoning, for instance, inflicts irreversible damage on the brain development of children. Additionally, the water quality of Bangladesh's rivers is severely deteriorating due to industrial waste, unregulated plastics, and untreated waste from various sources. These factors collectively exacerbate the environmental challenges faced by the nation.

It is imperative for Bangladesh to prioritise environmental protection alongside development initiatives. Failing to address these issues not only jeopardises the well-being of current and future generations but also undermines the country's long-term sustainability and progress. Effective regulatory measures, sustainable practices, and community engagement are essential in mitigating environmental degradation and safeguarding the health and prosperity of all citizens.

In light of the current situation, prompt action and decisive government intervention to curb air pollution are urgently needed. Additionally, efforts to enhance water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices, along with effective measures to control lead pollution, are essential. Increasing investments in green power generation, promoting the use of environmentally friendly fuels for cooking, and implementing stringent regulations to mitigate pollution from industries are also imperative steps.

Reversing the trend of environmental pollution in Bangladesh is feasible only through the implementation of timely and comprehensive policies and initiatives. It is crucial for the government to prioritise environmental protection and undertake measures to raise awareness among the populace. Moreover, incentivising environmentally sustainable practices and investments is essential to encourage widespread participation and adoption of green technologies.

By taking proactive measures and adopting a multi-faceted approach, Bangladesh can make significant strides towards mitigating environmental pollution and fostering a healthier, more sustainable future for its citizens.