Amid the vast green landscapes and full skies that make Bangladesh a land of nature, there is a fascinating story of environmental conservation at work. It’s the story of International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – and it’s been 40 historic years in the making.
On 27 February 2013, IUCN celebrated its 40 years of continual reality in Bangladesh. To mark the day IUCN Bangladesh Country office organized a day-long event titled IUCN: 40 years of Environmental Conservation in Bangladesh which brought together experts and scientists from across the region to discuss the current challenges of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation to instigate an interdisciplinary dialogue about possible responses. It also facilitated perspectives from experts across a broad spectrum of disciplines and positions about trans-boundary water management in South Asia and collaborative governance of wetland in Bangladesh.
“In spite of having enormous natural resources and opportunities, Bangladesh is facing many challenges of environmental conservation, mostly on conflicts over natural resource use and environmental pollution. The Government of Bangladesh is committed for environmental conservation keeping its all efforts together with the national and international partners”, says Dr Hasan Mahmud MP, honorable Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of Bangladesh. “I would like to appreciate and thank the leaders of IUCN to take part in the endeavor of natural resources management and environmental conservation in Bangladesh since 1972”, he added.
The Government of Bangladesh joined IUCN as a State Member in 1972 – just after the independence of Bangladesh. However, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government and IUCN on 22 November 1992 to startup a country office.
“The successes and achievements of IUCN in Bangladesh are evident in such work as the Community Based Sustainable Management of the Tanguar Haor wetland, support to the Government of Bangladesh in meeting its MEA obligations, and introducing cutting edge species initiatives such as Red Listing”, says Ms Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director, IUCN Asia. “All of this would not have been possible without a national secretariat presence working in close collaboration with the most important constituent of IUCN, its Members, she added.
During its 40 years of journey in Bangladesh, IUCN has been instrumental in creating various important national policy documents namely NAP, NAPA, NPA, NCSA, NBSAP and BCCSAP. In Bangladesh, IUCN has been working both at national and local level to enhance people’s right, access and benefit over natural resources and community participation in natural resource governance through its range of initiatives.
“For many of us, working for the IUCN has been a passion. IUCN has done so much for nature conservation in Bangladesh in the last 40 years, with its greatest contribution being the sheer volume of work accomplished in almost every part of Bangladesh”, says Ishitaq Uddin Ahmad, Country Representative, IUCN Bangladesh Country Office.
Like any birthday celebration, this anniversary gave IUCN an opportunity to reflect what have been achieved and set up the direction where to proceed. IUCN looks forward to greater ownership and active participation of all its valued donors, members and partners in its journey towards building “a just world that values and conserves nature”.