In ancient times during hunting period, people used to be dependent directly on the nature. They used to hunt to live on. The population was very less, may be countable by hands. There was no economic activity, no factories. And so, no pollution. But slowly humans learnt to develop, started to be civilized. After the hunting period, agricultural period came. Humans learnt cultivation. For agricultural activities, land was needed, so there was deforestation. Due to agricultural production, more calories were available and so population started to grow. To feed and accommodate this growing population, it was environment who gave its resource to human beings. With more progress, the world entered into the industrial period. Engines, factories, sounds, smokes and everything started to have impact on the environment. Today is the time of fourth industrial revolution where even a small chip is affecting the nature. So, if we analyse the trends, we can see that with advancement and development, the impacts on the environment have been increased as well throughout the history. Initially it might be deduced that the relationship between environment and development is inversely proportional. The ecological footprint shows that the more time has passed, the more civilization has expanded and therefore more environmental resources have been used or depleted.

So, what is development? By the word development, most of us might think of road or bridge construction. But the concept of development is broad. It is growth or progress including not only physical and economic but also social, environmental, demographic components. For better communication, roads can be constructed, that is a development. For education, a university is opened, that is a development. Even for exercise, entertainment or social bonding we can build a park, that is also a development. Development is an inevitable part of human society. It is an everlasting process. As long as humans live, they will develop. Development is a must. Because of car, our transportations are easy today. Because of building, our living is easy today. We need development. But we need environment too.

In general, Environment means our surroundings. Environment also refers to the natural component and in here, we are focusing on that. Environment is the basis of human existence. From, food to shelter, and in every aspect, we are dependent on the environmental resources. If we think of construction materials, stones, rods or bricks, they are from the environment. For electricity we need fossil fuels, they are also from environment. All of our foods come from environment. Even our mobile devices are made of natural components, such as several metals. So, it’s clearly evident that we can’t survive without environmental resources. Environmental resources are not infinite. And once used they are depleted.

So, if environmental resources are depleted then our survival will be impossible. On the other hand, without development a civilisation can’t exist. But the relationship between environment and development has been opposite so far. If development is done then environment is affected. If environment is saved then development might be slowed. But we need both environmental safety and development works. So, what can be done? The simplest answer is, let’s make friendship between environment and development.

Firstly, we should move more towards to Sustainable Development. This is a relatively new concept. According to World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Sustainable Development can ensure environmental protection at the same time accelerating development. It ensures development is done but environment is not much harmed or resources are not much depleted. Let’s think of a power plant which is run by coal, gas or oil. In this case, firstly, resources are depleting, as we can use fossil fuels only for once. At the same time due to burning of fossils fuels, carbon is emitted to the environment causing global warming. So, development is done but environment is not protected. But if we consider a renewable energy power plant, like hydro, solar, tidal, wind, wave or geothermal; then we can use these resources again and again having very less or almost zero impact on the environment as they don’t emit carbon. Even for non-renewable energy, proper safety measures should be taken so that it doesn’t degrade the environment much. For example, recently the Payra thermal power plant has been opened. Despite using coal, it won’t have much impact on the environment as it’s using ultra supercritical technology. So, both development and environment are emphasized. All other works should be like this as well.

Sustainable waste management is another prospect which promotes development and environmental protection at the same time. Waste to Energy process has given rises to thermal and biological treatments of wastes. Biofuels and Electricity can be produced from them. Many EU countries and UK are now having waste management industries, which is an integral part of their economy today. Similar practices should be followed in other parts of the world.

There are many developments works where proper measures aren’t taken for environmental protection. Such as tourism industries. Many countries around the world are fully dependent on them. But often this is causing environmental degradation. In cox s bazar, hotels and restaurants are being built, but waste and wastewater are being released to the sea often. Local biodiversity is threatened. Recently govt. has banned tourism at Saint. Martins for some particular seasons. Similar initiatives should be taken for Cox s Bazaar and all the places where the pressure of tourists is high. A new concept has come recently, ‘eco-tourism’ which promotes tourism with beautification. Even in Bangladesh, there are plenty eco resorts, this practice can be encouraged more.

While road or flyover construction, the stones and dusts are degrading environment and human health a lot. Regular water sprinkling on the construction site can solve the issue, which is often neglected. In case of beautification, tree plantation is done on road divider. But initiatives should be also on the sides of the road, as it’s more like a need than beautification. In Dhaka city, green is hard to find in the jungle of concrete. This is an example of unplanned development. The authority should take care that all the buildings carry some plants at some part Infront. The development work should not be done by filling up the lakes or just at the bank of the river.

Factories are needed for industrial progress, but most of the factories in Bangladesh are run without ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant). Wastewater is being released to the rivers without proper treatment. Also from their chimneys, carbons emissions are emitted to the environment. These facilities should be rearranged with proper waste (solid, liquid, gaseous) treatment facilities. Similarly, transportation sector should be monitored regularly. Still, we can see buses in Dhaka releasing dark smokes. The craps of the bus, trucks, cars are left on the roadside sometimes which are having adverse impact on the nature. All these issues should be resolved.

There might be plenty more examples on how we can mainstream the environment to the development. While developing, we should not forget that the environment exists. And environment needs care. If we don’t take care of it now, it won’t take care of us in future. And then a day might come where we will have buildings to live in, but no oxygen to breath on.

Md. Sadril Islam Khan, The Author is a Faculty Member of Environmental Science and Disaster Management Department, Daffodil International University. Email: