Why water governance is key to growth in Bangladesh

February 1, 2016
Credit: naturepl.com / Tim Laman / WWF

Reports previewed today by WWF and H&M find that the gap between water policy and implementation in Bangladesh is likely to affect the country's economic growth. Findings suggest that national ambitions such as improved living standards, food security and textile export growth depend on improving water governance.

WWF and H&M have collaborated on the two investigative reports in Bangladesh as part of a programme of engagement on water stewardship. One report, analyzing water governance gaps, was launched on 30 January 2016, and another report examining likely economic outcomes from varying water governance scenarios is planned for publication in April 2016.

WWF is working in partnership with fashion retailer H&M on an ambitious water stewardship programme, aiming to address water issues in China and Bangladesh as well as tackling H&M's own water use and impacts.

Bangladesh is a major producer of clothing for EU and US markets, and the apparel sector is vital for the Bangladesh economy. Currently, textile and leather processing is having significant negative impacts on water sources, leading to environmental degradation and potential health problems for people.

Interviews with communities, business, government and NGO experts identified promising opportunities to strengthen water governance in Bangladesh, in particular ensuring that regulations are properly monitored and enforced, water-related government bodies have clear mandates and reporting mechanisms, and that businesses, farmers and community members are included in decision-making on water.

Preliminary findings from the economic report show that the gap between water policy and implementation in Bangladesh is likely to affect the country's GDP, living standards, food security and textile export growth by 2030. They also suggest that taking decisive action on water governance could reduce health care costs and lost productivity due to lack of water and sanitation, reduce the cost of irrigation pumping for farmers, and protect textile production sites from running out of usable water in major industrial areas.

WWF and H&M are launching a preview of the economic report and a full version of the governance report at an event held in Dhaka by the 2030 Water Resources Group, and will support the Water Governance and Sustainability work-stream created by the Bangladesh Water Multi-Stakeholder Partnership to support stronger governance in Bangladesh.

Explore further: Agricultural standards can do more to mitigate risk in commodity production

More information: Water Governance in Bangladesh: d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/wwf_hm___water_governance_in_bangladesh_published_jan_16.pdf

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