The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), was set up in 1992 with the objective of establishing a sound environment and ecological order for all using law as tool. With the ever deteriorating environmental state of the country at the backdrop, Dr. Mohiuddin Farooque , founder of BELA, decided to pursue the cause of environmental justice through a motivated local advocacy group. The initial idea was to monitor and pursue implementation and observance of the existing laws on natural resource and environment management. As an advocacy group of young lawyers, BELA since then has been working out techniques and strategies to accord protection to environmental resources and thus safeguard the rights of the millions who depend on such resources.
Since BELA's formation, the organization has adopted various means to create awareness amongst major actors to activate the great bulk of environmental legislation. BELA has always emphasized on and advocated for wider participation in law making and policy planning to bring in changes in the isolated trend of law and policy framing. The efforts of BELA through public interest litigation have truly sensitized the concept of ‘environmental justice' in the country that now has special courts to deal with environmental offences. To institutionalize its efforts, BELA ensures wider participation from both the government and non-governmental sector that has given it wide credibility and acceptance amongst all concerned.
In 2009 Syeda Rizwana Hasan won the Goldman Prize for her work in reducing the impact of Bangladesh’s exploitative and environmentally-devastating ship breaking industry. Find out more