Syeda Rizwana Hasan
of Bangladesh and Yuyun Ismawati of Indonesia won the highly coveted prize honoring grassroots environmentalists.
SAN FRANCISCO - The Asia Foundation
applauds the Goldman Environmental Prize announcement today that two of its program partners, Syeda Rizwana Hasan
of Bangladesh and Yuyun Ismawati of Indonesia, have each won the highly coveted prize honoring grassroots environmentalists.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, 40, is a lawyer and executive director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1992 to contribute to the development of sound environmental jurisprudence in Bangladesh.
Since then, BELA
has played a leading role in promoting environmental legal advocacy in Bangladesh, enhancing environmental policy, and extending the scope and enforcement of legal standards in environmental protection and resource management.
The Asia Foundation
is one of BELA's original supporters.
Since its first grant in 1993, the Foundation has provided institutional, programatic, and professional staff development assistance to BELA
for a variety of public advocacy initiatives.
These include advocacy efforts to sensitize public officials, Members of Parliament, and the judiciary to environmental issues, and support for BELA's pioneering role in securing judicial commitment to public interest litigation in Bangladesh as an effective legal tool for protecting environmental rights.
Achievements include landmark court decisions that: recognized the constitutional right to a clean environment; stemmed industrial pollution; banned smoking in public vehicles; ordered environmental compensation; and directed public agencies to take actions to protect the environment.
has filed numerous cases in which BELA
has represented communities in cases involving encroachment on public property, air, water, and soil pollution.
has also played a crucial role in assisting with compensation for land expropriation, protection of laborers from hazardous working conditions, relocation of tanneries that discharge toxic chemicals into the environment, and maintenance of urban environmental facilities.
More recently, Ms. Hasan
has lobbied for critical legislation to protect Bangladesh's environment and reduce the environmental health and safety hazards faced by workers in the ship-breaking industry.
In March 2009, a BELA petition secured a High Court direction to the Department of Environment to ensure that all ship-breaking yards operating without environmental clearance close their operations within two weeks, together with an order prohibiting the import of any end-of-life ships that have not been cleaned of all hazardous materials such as asbestos, PCBs, heavy metals, and oil residues before arrival in Bangladesh.
Over the years, Ms. Hasan
has facilitated scores of training programs for journalists, judges, government officials, lawyers, and concerned citizens to increase environmental awareness and support participatory law making.
In 2003, the Foundation supported her
participation in the prestigious Environmental Leadership Program of the University of California at Berkeley
Note to reporters: Additional information, including press materials, detailed biographies, and photos for Syeda Rizwana Hasan
and Yuyun Ismawati, is at www.goldmanprize.org.