Pursuing opportunities towards sustainable development

--Abu Taher

Bangladesh is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Natural disasters adversely affect the country’s economy and deter its development. Sometimes, manmade cause adds more suffering to the people. Thus preparedness for such disasters is imperative for development of the country.

The horrific accident of Rana Plaza collapsed at Savar in which 1200 garment workers were killed, has shaken the global garment trade. While authorities in Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S. were reconsidering imports from Bangladesh, the incident adversely affected the European market of our garment products and tainted the image of the country. Many again raised question about the working conditions in Bangladesh. It is true that in most cases, the working conditions are horrible with lack of sufficient space, light and fire safety, supply of drinking water, foods and medical facilities to the employees as well as climate and environmental threats within the factory and outside the factory.

Thus corporate entities are now thinking about the ways and means to avoid such situations and to get rid of their negative impacts with a view to sustaining in the free market arena.

Sustainable development means development of business as well as development of socio-economic condition of the country where people and environment will get highest priority and it benefits the future generations in the long run.

According to the Brundtland Report in 1987, the interconnectedness of culture, economy and the environment are at the forefront of sustainable development as we know it today. In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development took place in Johannesburg, South Africa and in 2012 Reo de Janeiro, Brazil for making awareness about the sustainable development which is a catalyst to meet millennium challenges. It has three pillars; economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social inclusion which carry across all sectors of developments from cities facing rapid urbanization to agriculture, infrastructure, energy development and use, water availability, and transportation, etc.

Yet this idea of sustainable development is a relatively new one in our country. The concept came to national prominence very recently although it has been emerged from the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972 that recognized the rapidly expanding human population will have to survive off a finite pool of resources. Without careful management, resources such as food, energy and water could be exhausted, will lead to obvious global crises.

 

After a long time, we are now realizing the essence of the Conference in the wake of scarcity of natural resources to meet the demand of the increasing population.

The sustainable development lies on in the sort of sustainability of business and other economic activities where people engage themselves to earn their bread and butter.  The entrepreneurs in our country are taking steps to ensure sustainability in their business through providing medical facilities, education and building awareness about environmental threats and climate changes among the employees because resilience of these threats would ensure more productivity of the industry, enhance  the employee’s contribution to the development of the economy.

The steps towards sustainable development are encouraging in some aspects and in some cases depressible in our country; the entrepreneurs are totally ignoring social safeties of the employees for their mere willingness to make lofty profit from the business. The sense of more profitability blinds them, which ultimately brings disaster to their business, indeed. So, in order to ensure sustainability in  business, ensure physical fitness of the employees, health facilities, sustainable environment, congenial climate, ecological balance that are pre-conditions for the development. Since sustainable development has made a lasting impact on the world, there is still much to do.

Sustainable environment

While the country has made progress in reducing poverty over the past decades, less progress has been made in managing the environmental sustainability. Pollutions, overexploitation of fish stocks, biodiversity loss, overuse of water and land threaten our development efforts.

The country’s population has grown larger, passing 160 billion, and while the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has nearly doubled corresponding to a decade ago, the proportional consumption is increasing as well. As a result, agriculture has intensified; leading to agrochemical pollution, soil exhaustion and deforestation, food demand has also stimulated water withdrawals that have tripled over the last 50 years. Solution of these environmental threats is not easy but steps may help to address such threats to some extent.

t              Enhancing livelihoods through promoting sustainable management of environmental services of ecosystems and natural resources, helping clarify and establish property rights and reforming incentive systems.

t              Preventing and reducing environmental health risks through reducing people’s exposure to indoor and urban air pollution, waterborne diseases, and toxic chemicals and

t              Reducing people’s vulnerability to environmental hazards.

 

Different international agencies have extended their hands to combat environmental threats and to minimize the climate change impacts in our country. The World Bank’s approach to improve the quality of growth has been supporting policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks for sustainable environmental management. This support included facilitating partnerships to address environmentally sensitive issues and to agree on benchmarks for environmental management.

Natural and man-made environmental resources – fresh water, clean air, forests, grasslands, marine resources, and agro-ecosystems provide sustenance and a foundation for social and economic development. The need to safeguard these resources crosses all borders. Today, the World Bank is one of the key promoters and financiers of environmental upgrading in the developing countries including Bangladesh.

Sustainable energy

As millions of people of the country still lack the access to electricity,  remains a major hindering factor to equitable development and prosperity of the national economy. The World Energy Congress 2013 took a look at the global energy trends, after Montreal Congress in 2010, to cover a broad range of energy issues and to find solutions to the world energy challenges. The delegates attending the congress discussed how policymakers, industry people and key decision-makers in the energy sector must work together to form a more sustainable platform for future energy development.

The renewable energy that witnessed substantial growth in the last decade, the wind energy turbines, the hydropower are sectors to work for attaining sustainable energy. The wind energy turbines installed globally now can generate 3.5 per cent of the world electricity demand, which is encouraging and Bangladesh may follow the suit to resolve the energy crisis.

Sustainable households

Not only climate and environmental threats, workers’ family crisis also hamper the productivity of industry and thus deter the development of the country specially in the third world .Every day, thousands of people lose their jobs, fall victim to crime, or are hit by natural hazards. To meet these challenges, people need to have sufficient resources and to be closely connected to their employers and their community.

In practice, many developing countries may be able to provide only a minimum level of benefits to only a targeted population with a view to facilitate them and to bring them under social safety net. That is true in particular for countries where the old-age dependency ratio is growing fast. To ensure their long-run sustainability, government should make sure that policies are fiscally sustainable, not ambitious.

To confront risk and pursue opportunities, people should acquire knowledge and invest in their protection. The quality of their risk management depends on their access to information, markets, public services, and infrastructure, as well as on the level of risk sharing within the community.

 

Over the past two decades, economic growth has lifted more than millions of people out of poverty and has raised their income levels, but too often it has come at the expense of the environment and poor. We should take measure to uplift the poor narrowing the gap between the rich and poor. Sustainable development recognizes that growth must be both inclusive and environmentally sound to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity for today’s population and to continue to meet the needs of future generations. It is efficient with resources and carefully planned to deliver both immediate and long-term benefits for people, planet, and prosperity.

Now-a-day corporate entities have been taking corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs so that they could sustain in the competitive commodity market that would definitely contribute huge to the development of the country.

It is also necessary to pursue political stability to lifting up the country’s economy and to make sure all of our development efforts fruitful, otherwise achieving the sustainable development will be far behind.