Environmental conservation is one of the most discussed issues internationally. The existence of life on earth is threatened due amongst other things to climate change as a result of continuous environment pollution. For a long time, environmentalists around the world have tried to focus the attention of world leaders on this and other pressing environmental matters. One of the first internationally collaborative efforts was the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment in 1972. These efforts were given a new impetus in 1992 with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In addition to being affected by global environmental problems, Bangladesh is a victim of local and regional problems. Bangladesh faces many environmental problems both naturally occurring and those caused by humans. The major environmental problems in Bangladesh can be traced to the problems of over-population and poverty. They are: deforestation, deteriorating water quality, natural disasters, land degradation, salinity, unplanned urbanisation, discharge of untreated sewage and industrial wastes, and so on.
The first environmental activities in Bangladesh were taken soon after the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment in 1972. As a follow up action to the Stockholm Conference, the Government of Bangladesh funded, under the aegis of the Department of Public Health Engineering and with a staff level of 27 and after promulgating the Water Pollution Control Ordinance in 1973, a project primarily aimed at water pollution control. In subsequent years, various events took place as described below.
In 1977, Environment Pollution Control Board with 16 members headed by a Member of the Planning Commission and Environment Pollution Control Cell headed by a Director with staff complement of 26 was established. This was followed in 1977 by the establishment of the Environment Pollution Control Project, in 1985 by the establishment of the Department Pollution Control and finally, in 1989 by the restructured and renamed the Department of Environment (the Department) the activities of which are overseen by a Director General. The Department discharges its responsibilities through a head office and six Divisional offices located in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Bogra, Barisal and Sylhet. Of late, the Government has been set up 21 new offices at district level with the creation of 468 new positions. As a result, the DOE staff has been increased to 735.