Economists have said environmental development is not possible without good political governance and no one was paying attention to the severity of environmental pollution in the name of development.
Complaining that discussions are held in the country on GDP growth and per capita national income, they also think that now is the time to pay more attention to the environment.
"The biggest problem in the ecosystem of Bangladesh is encroachment," said Wahiduddin Mahmud, an eminent economist and former caretaker government adviser, at a seminar jointly organised by the Policy Research Institute (PRI) and the World Bank Group on Wednesday.
Speaking as the chief guest, he said, for example, the River Turag is being encroached on all the time. Encroachment is taking place on both sides of the river. But this encroachment cannot be stopped.
Among others, PRI Chairman Zaidi Sattar, Executive Director Ahsan H Mansur, World Bank Senior Environmentalist EunJoo Yi, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) Project Director Rafiqul Islam spoke at the event.
"Our court has declared it a living entity to protect the river Turag. However, BBS does not have any official information about this encroachment," said Wahiduddin Mahmud.
"Deforestation is also going on along with river encroachment. We have to keep an account of our national wealth. It is important to have this account in all cases," he added.
At the seminar on "Green Growth for Bangladesh: Development policy pathways using Natural Capital Accounting", Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud said Bangladesh is a small country in terms of the landmass compared to its population.
"When it comes to any development activity here, nature is hit. Agricultural land is wasted," he added.
Citing the example of South Korea, he said Bangladesh has a lot in common with the country. The country is also small in size.
"But how are they doing their development work? Development is going on without destroying nature. We have to follow suit. In many cases, we destroy agricultural lands, rivers and even forests while carrying out development work. We need to be more vigilant in this regard," said the economist.
He added that one of the conditions for sustainable development is environmental protection. "We have to keep that in mind."
Wahiduddin Mahmud said the government is trying to reduce carbon emissions.
"But we are less responsible for carbon emissions as we emit less carbon. We are an affected country," he continued.
He said detailed research should be done while taking any development project. There should be different aspects of the environment.
"But not all subjects get equal importance in research. There is much focus on GDP growth compared to other sides. GDP growth is neverperfect. One or more errors remain. Many people in the country still do not understand what GDP is," he put it.
At that time, he called for creating a "National Nature Account" in which natural resources will be accounted for.
Ahsan H Mansur said everyone in the country is focused on GDP growth and per capita national income. But less attention is paid to the importance of natural resources. It is important to change this attitude.
"We are developing. But there has to be sustainable development," he added.
The economists said good political governance is the main tool to protect the environment.