About the Chief Executive

Syeda Rizwana Hasan

Syeda Rizwana Hasan is receiving Ramon Magsaysay award from the Philippine President Benigno Aquino. She is the 11th Bangladeshi to win what is regarded as Asia’s Nobel for her campaign for environment justice.

Syeda Rizwana Hasan is the chief executive of BELA. She started her career with BELA in 1993 and till today is continuing with the same organization. She is an enrolled lawyer with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Rizwana did her masters and graduation in law from the University of Dhaka with distinction. Her main focus is to promote the notion of environmental justice in Bangladesh.

As the Chief Executive of BELA, Rizwana is responsible for the overall coordination of the activities of BELA that include research, awareness raising, public interest litigation (PIL) and advocacy. She has few publications to her credit. Notable amongst these are “Laws Regulating Environment in Bangladesh” and “Judicial Decisions on Environment in South Asia”. In addition she is the editor of BELA newsletter (a quarterly publication of BELA) and also contributes to numerous national and international publications.

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 and so on. 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 the conventional human rights movement by bringing in the elements of environmental justice. She places people’s legitimate rights at the center of her activism.

An environmental lawyer, Rizwana has also led successful legal campaigns against filling up of wetlands in and around Dhaka by unscrupulous housing companies, commercial and forced shrimp cultivation depriving the farmers of their traditional agriculture, depriving the forest dwellers of their traditional forest rights, vehicular pollution, industrial pollution and so on. She has attended more than 100 international, regional and national seminars, workshops etc. as a resource person.

Rizwana is a visiting faculty in the University of Asia Pacific, State University, Easter University and North South University.

Rizwana is the Chairperson of RDRS, a leading Bangladeshi NGO. She is a Board member of other NGOs including FIVDB, Nijera Kori, Association of Land Reforms and Development (ALRD), Gonoshashaya Kendra (GK) NGOB Platfrom and Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC). Rizwana serves as a member of various committees formed by the government on environmental issues.

At the international arena, Rizwana is an amigas (a member of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide). Her organization is a member of the NGO Platform on Ship Breaking, IUCN and Friends of the Earth International(FoEI)

BELA, the organization that Rizwana runs has received the Global 500 Roll of Honors of the UNEP in the year 2003. BELA has won the Environmental Award (given for the first time that year) in 2007 given by the Department of Environment for popularizing environmental law. The organization has also been awarded with M. Saleem Ullah Memorial Gold Medal 2009 as a token of recognition of it’s service tot he people in providing effective leadership for the preservation and sustenance of the environment.

Rizwana has received the ‘Annanya Top Ten Award’ given by a reputed journal of Bangladesh. She is also amongst the first five South Asian women to receive the ‘Celebrating Womenhood’ award (2008) given by the Creative Statement and South Asia Partnership based in Nepal. Rizwana has received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for the year 2009 for her outstanding contribution in protecting and conserving the environment of the country. She has also been named as one of the 40 Environmental Heroes of the World by the 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 has been awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012. BELA has been awarded the prestigious Tang Award from Taiwan for its contribution in the arena of Rule of Law (2020). Rizwana Hasan who was recently awarded the 16th Annual International Women of Courage Awards, 2022 by the U.S Department of State and Green Legal Award from Balipara Foundation.

  • Affiliation of Syeda Rizwana Hasan 
  • Member, Executive Committee, BELA 
  • Chairperson, Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) 
  • Treasurer, Friends in Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB) 
  • Member, Governing Body of BRAC 
  • Member, Executive Board of the NGO Forum on Ship-breaking 
  • Member, Board of the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) 
  • Member, Supreme Court Bar Association 
  • Member, Dhaka Bar Association 
  • Member, Committee on Legal Protection of the Disabled of the National Forum of Organizations Working with the Disabled 
  • Member, Workers Safety Forum 
  • Member, Nijera Kori 
  • Member, Association of Land Reforms and Development (ALRD) 
  • Member, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (E-LAW) 
  • Member, Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) Former 
  • Member, Executive Committee, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI)
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