Chief Executive, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association
Syeda Rizwana Hasan is an enrolled lawyer with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and the Chief Executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), a national NGO focusing on promoting the notion of environmental justice in Bangladesh.
Rizwana has filed PILs on various environmental issues most of which have received favourable orders/judgments. She has fought against vehicular pollution, river pollution, industrial pollution, ship breaking, grabbing of wetlands, cutting of hills, unregulated mining, unplanned urbanization, commercial shrimp cultivation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, etc. Her cases are redefining the current notion of development that is devoid of environmental consideration. Since she is an anthropocentric environmentalist, her efforts are adding value to conventional human rights movement by incorporating elements of environmental justice. Rizwana places people’s legitimate rights at the center of her activism.
Rizwana did her masters and graduate study in law at the University of Dhaka, from where she graduated with distinction. She started her career with BELA in 1993. In 2009, Rizwana received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her outstanding contribution in protecting and conserving the environment of Bangladesh. She has also been named as one of the 40 Environmental Heroes of the World by TIME magazine. Recognizing her impassioned leadership, hard-driving skill and uncompromising courage in the campaign of judicial activism that has demonstrated that the right to environment is nothing less than a people’s right to dignity and life, Rizwana was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012.