Three companies, a rehabilitation centre for the paralysed, and two individuals were honoured as climate champions jointly by HSBC Bangladesh and The Daily Star yesterday for their efforts to protect nature.
The winners were picked for their endeavours to preserve the environment and mitigate the risks of climate change through green business activities, community-based initiatives or valuable knowledge sharing practices.
Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, Bangladesh Bank Deputy Governor Shitangshu Kumar Sur Chowdhury and HSBC Bangladesh Chief Executive Officer Francois de Maricourt handed the trophies of the “5th HSBC-The Daily Star Climate Awards” at the Radisson Blu in the capital yesterday. Waste Concern is the knowledge partner for the awards.
Ispahani Agro Ltd, a sister concern of MM Ispahani Ltd, was awarded in the Climate Champion in Green Business Category for its pioneering work in protecting the environment, farmers and crops from pesticide poisoning. The company introduced the country's first non-hazardous biopesticide.
Ispahani Agro's business motto is “Safe food for better life”. In 2007, the company started its venture with quality seeds to ensure farmers get adequate return on their investments. Later, the company added the bio-technology unit to maintain the balance of nature.
Its products have received positive response. Some 13.5 lakh farmers have so far used the company's biopesticides.
Hamza Textiles Ltd, a concern of DBL Group, won the award in the Green Operations (100 percent Bangladeshi owned companies) category.
A green garment manufacturer, the company has adopted extensive eco-friendly production methods, which has drastically reduced energy usage and carbon emissions. It also uses organic cotton in its production. Its energy-efficient technologies consume 25 percent less power. The garment waste is recycled to make yarn. It has cut down water use for dyeing by 40 percent. The light system in its factory saves 70 percent electricity.
The Climate Champion in Green Operations with full or partial foreign ownership went to Renata Ltd, a leading pharmaceutical company in Bangladesh.
The medicine maker has instilled a commitment to preserving the environment into its organisational culture by releasing minimal to zero harmful waste in the environment. Located at the heart of the capital, the company's corporate headquarters makes most of the natural light. It has a park on its premises filled with trees where one can easily come across some wild animals. It has outdoor meeting spaces.
The company's manufacturing plant releases almost nothing in the air. Its effluent treatment plant treats all liquid before releasing into the environment. Its system has reduced carbon emission by 2.7 million kg a year.
The Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), which serves people with physical challenges through healthcare and rehabilitation, won the award in the Climate Champion in Community Engagement for its efforts to leave a positive impact on the environment through its operations.
It ensures that its regular operations do not harm the environment.
One of initiatives taken by the CRP is recycling paper it uses or the paper it collects from its partners and donors. It uses the recycled paper as office stationary like envelops, files and visiting cards, and make toys for children with challenges it takes care of. From recycled paper, it also makes chairs, tables and even furniture.
Another of its initiative deals with kitchen waste. It makes fertiliser from the waste which it uses in its garden and nursery plants. It treats waste water before discharging into the drainage system. It also manages medical waste through a high temperature incinerator.
The organisers also awarded two individuals under Special Mention category.
Muhammad Munir Chowdhury was honoured for his fervent and passionate work that ranges from preventing river grabbing to hill cutting. A senior government official, he is well-known for his love for nature and battle against land grabbers and polluters.
Mokaram Hossain won the accolade for raising awareness through his compelling books and replanting trees across the country as well as listing every single tree of more than 100 years old in Dhaka city.
He is closely associated with an organisation named Tarupallab, which tries to reach out to people. It has organised 25 “See Tree Know Tree” events in and outside Dhaka since 2008. Tarupallab is a group that studies nature.
Mokaram plans to set up an institute where people will come to know about the environment easily, establish a database of trees in Dhaka and the country, and launch an initiative to protect old and rare trees. Tarupallab also plans to set up a nursery where all kinds of trees will be sold at affordable prices.
In his address, Francois de Maricourt, CEO of HSBC Bangladesh, said the award was a humble effort that gave an excellent opportunity for organisations and individuals in Bangladesh to showcase their green business and operational initiatives, research work and knowledge management initiatives -- all aimed at raising awareness on environment preservation and mitigating the risks of climate change.
He said investors want to invest in sustainable projects and reduce carbon footprint of their operations. “And they want to support the public sector to upgrade its infrastructure and to fund new technology. This can only be achieved by strong leadership and partnership with all other actors in the financial system. HSBC stands ready to play its part.”
In Bangladesh, HSBC focuses on three key areas as part of its corporate sustainability initiatives: community, education and environment, said Francois.
The event, attended by politicians, central bankers, corporate leaders, development partners and former caretaker government advisers, started with the popular song “Dhono dhanno pushpe bhora, amader ei bashundhara” by the students of Jagannath University's music department.
Minister Anwar Hossain Manju and BB Deputy Governor SK Sur Chowdhury praised HSBC Bangladesh and The Daily Star for launching the awards.
Manju said the government boldly speaks on the global stage about its programmes and projects aimed at mitigating risks of climate change.
“We have created a special fund for this purpose; no country has done this.”
The minister said young entrepreneurs were eager to adopt green practices in their businesses.
SK Sur Chowdhury said Bangladesh was the fifth most adversely affected country in the world. “Through this event, I have come to know that we are not sitting idle. We are doing something.”
The deputy governor said the government, individuals, regulators, private sector, banks, financial institutions and companies would have to work together to fight the impacts of climate change.
Francois de Maricourt said one-third of the population of Bangladesh would be affected by climate change and rising temperatures.
“Everyone from leaders to individuals have a role to play to tackle climate change. In fact, Bangladesh is quite active in its fight against climate change. Bangladesh has the world's half green factories. Bangladesh Bank is also active in ensuring that finance goes to sectors that protect the environment.”
Mahbub Ur Rahman, deputy CEO of HSBC Bangladesh, said the environment might be dull as a topic but it was important for the country as “climate change is the biggest threat”.
“The migration from rural areas to urban centres went up in 2015 from 2014. We have seen April rains that were unexpected. Two crore people will be displaced by the next 50 years because of rising sea level.”
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said the country had made great strides in food production but the achievement could be destroyed in years by the impacts of climate change.
He called for collective and individual efforts to fight climate change.
“On an individual level, we can cut water consumption. We can manage waste in a better way through area-based efforts. Our residential buildings can go for rainwater harvesting and use the water for many purposes.”
He also called for saving the four rivers surrounding the capital city.
HSBC and The Daily Star launched the initiative, the foremost award in the country in the area of environment, in 2010 to recognise organisations and individuals actively working towards preserving the environment and managing the risk of climate change through their business practices, socially-driven initiatives or knowledge-sharing practices.
HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world, and has become the first major bank to go carbon neutral, achieving this goal for its global operations nearly a decade ago by managing and reducing direct emissions, buying green electricity, where feasible, and offsetting the remaining emissions.
The bank also sponsors climate research and encourages its customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Since its inception more than 25 years ago, The Daily Star has relentlessly been campaigning against environment polluters, river and water bodies' grabbers and forest destroyers.
The nominations were adjudicated by a panel of eminent jury members who are experts in the fields of environmental preservation and climate change.