Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association - BELA -

As a group of lawyers, bela was established in 1992 with the objective of promoting environmental justice and contributing to the development of sound environmental jurisprudence.
Environment and natural resources support the lives and livelihood of the majority of people in BANgladesh, in numerous invaluable ways.
'While Bangladesh could have been known by its rivers, coastal areas, forests, biodiversity, and related culture, the country instead has been portrayed as a land of dense population, disasters, and miseries. This has happened mainly due to faulty policy priorities and approaches, and poor governance that accounts for non-implementation of environmental laws.'

A narrow and isolated law / policy making trend resulted in over exploitation of resources nullifying.

The formation of BELA was a response to the global call for movement to protect and conserve natural environment and ecology, that has strong justification in a rural agronomy based country as Bangladesh.

As an advocacy group of young lawyers, BELA has been working out techniques and strategies to accord protection to environmental resources, and has also adopted various means to create awareness amongst major actors to activate the environmental legislation.

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 offenses.

To institutionalize its efforts, BELA ensures wider participation from both the government and non-governmental sector that has given it wide credibility and acceptance among all concerned.

Latest achievements

Victory over single-use plastics

In December 2019, Rizwana filed a petition to the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on behalf of BELA and 12 other organizations. The petition called for enforcement of an existing ban on polythene/plastic bags, and banning within six months the carrying, selling, use, and marketing of polythene/plastic bags and single-use plastics in coastal areas. It also called for a ban on the use of single-use plastic in all hotels, motels, and restaurants in Bangladesh. On January 2020, the High Court issued an order banning single-use plastic in hotels and restaurants. The Court also ordered the government to strictly enforce a current polythene ban.

Protecting communities from toxic pesticides

ELAW partner Syeda Rizwana Hasan and her team at BELA joined seven other organizations to file the written petition calling for a ban. The High Court of Bangladesh has ordered a phase out of the pesticide glyphosate, found in the common household weed killer Roundup. The Court also ordered authorities to inform the public of the harmful impacts of glyphosate and to introduce safer alternatives.

Over the years, BELA has become a true pressure group against environmental violations.


1. United Nations Photo; Water and sanitation in Developing Countries; June12, 2010; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 2. United Nations Photo; Farming for development in Bangladesh; November 30, 2011; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 3. United Nations Photo; Contaminated waters in Bangladesh slum; June 13, 2010; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 4. United Nations Photo; Bangladesh: Access to water and sanitation; June 7, 2010; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 5. United Nations Photo; UNDP helps community development projects in Bangladesh; January 1, 1989; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 6. United Nations Photo; Dump site in Dhaka, Bangladesh; June 8, 2010; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 7. United Nations Photo; farming in Bangladesh; July 27, 2005; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 8. United Nations Photo; Landscape: Nepal and Bangladesh; November 2, 2008; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).