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Time is now nature: We want nature-friendly solutions for development
It doesn't take much for us to live, to sustain life and to arrange life. And nature is the undisputed supplier of most of these elements. What nature does not give us - starting from food, fruits, medicine, drinking water, clothes, house building materials, etc.
Providing oxygen for the breathing of billions of people, creating livelihoods, renewable energy systems, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, all contribute to nature.
Even nature inspires us to awaken our inner human emotions and artistic feelings.
The Sundarbans and coastal mangrove forests have been instrumental in saving the lives of millions of people during various natural disasters, cyclones, tidal surges or major cyclones hitting Bangladesh. Needless to say, the proper coexistence of the fauna and flora in nature and the rich biodiversity are prerequisites for human survival.
But have we taken enough initiative to protect the nature or environment that is repeatedly protecting us?
Environmentally friendly activities are causing pollution in the daily life of the people and as a result various species of life and nature are becoming extinct all over the world and biodiversity is being lost.
Today, mangrove forests, coral reefs and wetlands are being destroyed, rivers and seas are being polluted, natural forests are being degraded and arable lands are being developed, unplanned industrialization and urbanization are taking place. And the main reasons for all this are our consumerist behavior, excessive extraction of natural resources and unlimited greed.
The existing linear economic model is leading us to a kind of unstable economic growth, which, no matter what else is called, is not sustainable. The world is now on the brink of the sixth extinction of biodiversity, the consequences of which we all have to suffer.
It is time to think differently about the way in which man as a whole is destroying the harmony of the earth's land, sea and aquatic flora and fauna. It is time to re-evaluate the direction of our existing economic growth and bring it in an environmentally friendly form. Otherwise, we cannot expect to save the earth and the living world from imminent destruction.
We have set the theme for this year's World Environment Day - 'Time is now nature'. The world must acknowledge that the dramatic emergence and spread of global epidemics, such as the coronavirus, is due in part to the long-term effects of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. It can be called a kind of awakening signal for the world community. We can still prevent damage and extinction of nature and biodiversity through concerted and rapid action.
IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) is working on biodiversity and ecosystems. According to their latest report, 6 million species of plants and animals are facing extinction in the world today. This rate of extinction is 24% in Bangladesh which is even higher.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), about 1819 species of animals will soon become extinct in Bangladesh.
Another figure from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) shows that by 2015, 1.4 percent of the world's forests have been lost, compared to 2.7 percent in Bangladesh.
This report identifies five major causes of biodiversity loss. These include changes in land use, over-exploitation of natural resources, climate change, extreme weather and rapid spread of aggressive species.
Such alarming trends are endangering the economy, society, public life and livelihood, food security, water security as well as human quality of life.
In recent times, the ecosystem has moved to the brink of risk. And if this limit is exceeded, unimaginable changes will take place in the structure, activities and scope of ecosystems. And it will have negative effects on the environment, economy, politics and society.
The Covid 19 epidemic proved that the health of human beings and the world is tied in one thread. Studies have shown that the incidence and prevalence of any infectious disease has now more than tripled. Since 1980, animals have been the source of more than two-thirds of the disease.
It is also known that 80 percent of all infectious diseases in humans are animal-borne. Covid-19 spreads through animals including Ebola, SARS, swine and avian flu, HIV And the dramatic increase in all these diseases involves the destruction and degradation of natural habitats, the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, the illegal hunting of wildlife for a variety of reasons, and inefficient livestock farming.
The world economy is involved with biodiversity and ecology. Such as crop pollination, water purification, pollution control, carbon sequestration, etc. are very important for human well-being. According to IPBES, the value of the products and services provided by biodiversity is equivalent to US ১২ 125-140 trillion per year, more than one and a half times the size of global GDP. Decreasing biodiversity results in higher costs and may increase further. Currently, less than 0.0020% of global GDP is being invested in biodiversity conservation.
However, the allocation for conservation is four times more than the current investment. Bangladesh needs ৪ 2.4 billion for sustainable management of natural resources. However, according to the government's investment plan, there is a deficit of 1.8 billion US dollars. It is now clear that investing in biodiversity recovery is also beneficial for the economy.
As a low-middle income country, there is no substitute for ensuring a delicate balance between development and conservation in taking any steps towards Bangladesh's development. Policies, control structures, and action plans in all areas need to be coordinated simultaneously to prevent the depletion of natural resources.
The goal is to ensure nature-friendly solutions in all types of development planning, programming and budgeting processes, including national and local governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals. Which could be specifically incorporated into the upcoming Eighth Five-Year Plan.
In order to achieve the national biodiversity goal, the government should immediately take a comprehensive program. Which should be determined on the basis of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016-2031), Bangladesh National Conservation Strategy (2016) and Bangladesh Biodiversity Act 2017.
There is a need to create a biodiversity conservation fund created with public, private and international funding, which will play a helpful role in the planning and implementation of nature and environment friendly solutions.
It will also help implement the plans by reducing the current deficit. In such finance planning, continuous monitoring is required, which can be made possible through comparative financing supervision and reporting for specific countries.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment declared itself a 'Planetary Emergency' in December 2019 as a political commitment to the environment, complementing all these activities. In addition to such policy interventions, we must adhere to and strictly enforce all existing control measures.
In addition, some market-based methods (such as Pluto Pay Principal, or Green Tax) need to be introduced and introduced. Above all, we need to encourage the erosion of ecology, deforestation and biodiversity.
At this time, the world community can unite and create a fund for the protection of biodiversity. The Corona epidemic has shown us that the earth can heal itself, we just need to help the healing process.
Conservation of biodiversity requires a political commitment from the Government of Bangladesh with a passionate mind so that policy makers can bring about strategic change for a nature-friendly solution. At the same time, the people can take responsible steps for green and stable economic development without destroying the nature of their lives.