The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), was set up in 1992 with the objective of establishing a sound environmental and ecological order for all using law as a tool. With the ever deteriorating environmental state of the country as 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 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 organisation has adopted various means to create awareness amongst major actors to activate the great bulk of environmental legislation. BELA has always emphasised 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 sensitised the concept of ‘environmental justice’ in the country that now has special courts to deal with environmental offences. To institutionalise 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