April 29, 2023, Dhaka: Sustainable development requires maintaining a balance between the environment and industrialization. Hence the business leaders of the country's important trade bodies and CEO’s & MD’s of the top conglomerates have reached a consensus to ensure the conservation of natural resources through their business practices.
They reached this consensus at a workshop titled Natural Resources Conservation in Bangladesh: Scope of Private Sector Engagement organized by the Arannayk Foundation held on Saturday morning at a city hotel.
However, business leaders commented that it is important to provide government incentives for environment-friendly industrialization. They also urged global buyers to pay fair prices for clothes produced in environment-friendly factories.
The workshop is organized under USAID’s Green Life Project being implemented by Arannayk Foundation.
Dr. Muhammad Khan, Director of the Economic Growth Office, USAID Bangladesh graced the event as the chief guest.
While speaking, he said that USAID has been working to protect natural resources since 1990. Recalling the contribution of the private sector in the economic development of Bangladesh, he said that the development of the private sector has reduced the country’s dependence on foreign assistance. He commented that the participation of entrepreneurs in the workshop and their opinions will play a critical role in combatting climate vulnerabilities. Forest degradation is at the centre of water, air and soil pollution and many other environmental crises. If forests can be preserved, most of the problems will be solved, he said.
Earlier, in the speech of the special guest, Former President of BKMEA and Bangladesh Employers Federation Md. Fazlul Hoque said that except for having social recognition for his environment-friendly factory, there is no positive impact on business profitability. Rather, the cost of production has increased. Which makes business difficult, he claims. Therefore, Fazlul Hoque demanded incentives from the government to involve entrepreneurs more in the conservation of natural resources. The buyers need to pay higher prices for products produced in environment-friendly factories, he urged.
In his speech as a special guest, Md. Shahidullah Azim, Vice President of BGMEA said, Bangladesh is the most preferred market for international buyers of eco-friendly clothes. At present, there are 195 lead-certified garment factories in the country, he informed. As a responsible trade body, BGMEA is implementing Four R: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Recover concepts and also heat management to give a clean world to the next generation, he further informed.
BSRM's Head of Branding, Farah Shahrukh Raja, in the guest of honour’s speech, said that her company has adopted the eco-friendly production process which turns waste into products. She called for embracing the same to other companies.
Earlier in the welcome speech, Arannayk Foundation Executive Director Rakibul Hasan Mukul said that ensuring harmony between the environment and business profit practices is a key to sustainable development. Hence, he urged all stakeholders to come forward to tackle the climate crisis.
While delivering the concluding remarks, Environment and Climate Change Specialist of the Economic Growth Office of USAID Bangladesh, said that if the temperature goes up or the coastal areas are flooded by natural disasters, there will be a negative impact on business. Therefore, it is important to keep the environmental health fit for the growth of the business. In addition to the country, he urged traders to look for incentives in the international environment. Accessing global incentives is possible by trading in the voluntary carbon market, he informed.
Meanwhile, he urged corporate bodies to consider Arannayk Foundation for utilizing their CSR funds to conserve nature.
Masud Alam Khan, Head of Programs of Arannayk Foundation, delivered the keynote paper at the workshop. He said that almost every year a quarter of the country is flooded due to natural disasters. It will not be possible to maintain the country's economic progress if the extent and severity of this disaster are not reduced. This requires intensive involvement of the private sector in the conservation of the environment and ecology. There is a number of scopes for private entities to get involved especially in eco-tourism and establishing partnerships with community-based organizations.
Participating in an open discussion, Shamim Ahmed, President of the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that currently, the plastic sector of Bangladesh is in the orange category. Initiatives have been taken to turn this into a green industry. However, VAT has to be paid in several steps for recycling, which should be withdrawn, he demanded.
The CEO of Well Group Syed Nurul Islam said that the private sector is ready for environment-friendly industrialization. However, the government has to play a leading role, he added.
Echoing the point, Syed Moazzem Hossain, Director of FBCCI stressed that government policy support is needed to make the private sector more engaged in conserving natural resources.
The director of FBCCI and WEND President Dr. Nadia Binte Amin advised involving the new generation in protecting nature.
Calling for a move away from unplanned tourism, FBCCI Director MGR Nasir Majumder urged the government to formulate policies and implement them. He also proposed to give tax exemption to those engaged in waste management.
Shiblul Azam Koreshi, President of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh - TOAB urged the government to use the media effectively to create awareness in conducting responsible business practices.
Editor of DBC News Pranab Saha said that the people of Bangladesh have suffered from the highest temperature in the history of Bangladesh because nature has been treated unfairly.
Shamima Akhter, Director of Unilever's corporate affairs and communication department claimed that there are no other incentives for eco-friendly production. She stressed on the government to formulate policies to support the production of environment-friendly products.
Ahmed Raihan Ahsanullah, Senior Manager of Sustainability Affairs of British American Tobacco, said that his company, partnering with several organizations, is currently conducting various activities including afforestation, and drinking water supply.
Among others, Md. Khayrul Alam Bhuiyan, MD of Mati Organics Limited, Ziaur Rahman, CEO of Recycling Jar Limited, Shazad Sarwar, General Manager of City Group T Estate and Rehana Aktar Ruma, Head of Project and Program of Bangladesh Tanners Association also spoke in the workshop.
Communication and Advocacy Lead