Hussain Muhammad Ershad
Former President Hussain Ershad gave strong environmental leadership in Bangladesh, a nation vulnerable to present and future environmental hazards including climate change.
He campaigned for early conclusion of an international convention on protection and conservation of climate. He also proposed a global fund to help developing countries prevent environmental degradation.
At national level, former President Ershad declared 1990 as the "Year of Environment" and 1990-1999 as the "Decade of Environment" in Bangladesh.
Kazi Zaker Hussain
Prof. Hussain, a zoologist, is the pioneer of wildlife conservation in Bangladesh. Since 1961, he has campaigned in the media and led a "Wildlife Biology" course in Dhaka University.
He played a key role in saving the rhesus monkey of Bangladesh. His study of the rare Whitewinged Wood Duck has saved the bird, at least for the time being. He played an important role in persuading the Government to create the Bangladesh Wildlife Preservation Order of 1973 which led to the establishment of 14 "protected" areas.
Hasna J. Moudud
Hasna J. Moudad, former member of the Bangladesh Parliament, created a committee of non-partisan parliamentarians representing coastal constituencies working to highlight the tough problems of coastal ecosystems in Bangladesh.
As Chairman of a special parliamentary committee on coastal area and environment, she submitted guidelines for a Master Action Plan for saving the fragile coastal ecosystems and marine environment leading to an improvement of the quality of life of the people of coastal areas.
She has been campaigning for the regional acceptance and implementation of environmental standards modelled on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. She spearheaded efforts both within the parliament and among the public to promote environmental awareness and the involvement of women in environmental issues. She is also editor of Environmental Weekly Bulletin
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association - (BELA)
Feeling the urgent need for an advocacy group to monitor and pursue the implementation of laws and regulations to protect the environment, a goup of young lawyers initiated the Bangladesh Environmental lawyers Association (BELA) in 1991.
Over the years, BELA has become a true pressure group against environmental violations. BELA's research has played a significant role in popularizing the environment amongst the general public. Opposed to aggressive advocacy, BELA has helped sensitize various actors by raising environmental awareness. It approaches each organization as a co-actor and emphasizes the need for joint action.
A model for training and sensitizing professionals and the public was adopted by the organization that presently organizes such programmes with lawyers, NGO workers, government officials, teachers, journalists, students, and representatives of local government. BELA is the only organization that arranges special workshops exclusively for judicial officers.
With 60% of the total population in Bangladesh estimated at having no access to justice, BELA is considered a pioneer in public interest environmental litigation (PIEL). As an environmental organization, it has to date filed 38 cases of which 12 have been decided in favour of the cause while the rest are pending.
Other major achievements of BELA include: opening up of PIEL in Bangladesh; recognition of 'right to life' as part of constitutional 'right to life'; directive judgements in mitigating industrial pollution and vehicular pollution; addressing payment of environmental compensation in development projects; river encroachment; and unlawful filling of flood plain zones.
Other activities undertaken by BELA in Bangladesh include: research into legal documents to minimize the gap between provisions of law and people's expectations, including laws on compensation; on regulating environment and customs on forests and intellectual property rights.
BELA produces a quarterly newsletter in English and Bengali on major environmental issues and laws, as well as Sangsad Sangbad - a bulletin that covers the proceedings of the Pariliament on environmental issues and the law making process.
BELA is an active member of IUCN, the Environmental Lawyers Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), and the Coalition of Environmental NGO's in Bangladesh (CEN).