Every year Bangladesh loses about $6.5 billion, which is about 3.4 percent of 2015 Gross Domestic Product (GDP), due to pollution and environmental degradation in urban areas, says a new World Bank report.
The report titled ‘Enhancing Opportunities for Clean and Resilient Growth in Urban Bangladesh: Country Environmental Analysis 2018’ was released on Sunday.
To achieve the upper-middle income status, the report says, Bangladesh must act now to tackle environmental degradation and pollution, especially in its cities.
Globally, Bangladesh is one of the countries most affected by pollution and environmental risks. Pollution has reached an alarming level; in 2015, it caused about 80,000 deaths in cities, it said.
Across Bangladesh, 28 percent of all deaths are from diseases caused by pollution, compared to a 16 percent global average.
“Bangladesh pays a high price from environment degradation and pollution in its urban areas. This puts its strong growth at risk,” said Rajashree Paralkar, World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh.
“The country must act to put in place the right policies and institutions for green growth and ensure its industries adopt clean technologies,” he said.
Pollution and environmental degradation, including wetland encroachment and unregulated disposal of hazardous wastes, especially harm women, children and the poor. Nearly 1 million people in Bangladesh, mostly poor, are at risk of lead contamination.
This can lead to IQ loss and neurological damage, especially for children, and can increase the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. In greater Dhaka, the sites contaminated by heavy metals are mostly in poorer neighborhoods.
The report focuses on three areas: cost of environmental degradation, clean and resilient cities, and institutions for clean industrial growth.
It suggests that the country requires effective policies, a sound legal framework, and stronger institutions at the national and local levels. The country also needs to scale up green financing, promote clean technologies, improve hazardous waste management, and raise awareness for environmental protection.
Unplanned urbanization and industrialization are affecting both big and small cities.