The University of Arizona

Environmental justice dialogues and the struggle for human dignity in the deciduous forest of Bangladesh

Farid Ahmed, Nicholas P. Low


The article presents environmental justice dialogues in, and affecting, the Madhupur Garo community in Bangladesh. The Garo community, which identifies itself as adivasi meaning 'indigenous', has occupied the deciduous forest of Madhupur in Bangladesh for centuries, developing a symbiotic relationship with nature. An environmental justice movement, called the "Eco-park Movement" has long protested a government development plan to establishing an 'eco-park' in the Madhupur deciduous forest. The eco-park plan interfered with the Garo's right to life and livelihood as well as threatening them with possible eviction from their traditional land. From their protest movement, the concept of environmental justice has acquired a meaning with emphasis on human dignity. The Garo community not only defines environmental injustice as a lack of access to the decision-making process, information and the judiciary, but includes other elements: obstruction to fair access to environmental resources for livelihood, as threat to the economy, health, trade, education, security, privacy and right to life. Finally, the Garo connect all these environmental human rights issues with rights to self-determination and human dignity.

Key words: Sustainable development, environmental justice, political ecology, capabilities and conflicts, human dignity, eco-park movement, right to life.

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