Artificial intelligence and data integration

 

Artificial Intelligence Policy (draft)

Bangladesh formulated its first AI regulation, the AI Policy, in 2024. This outlines a strategic framework to harness AI’s transformative potential in local context. It is still in the draft phase and has not been adopted as a policy. The policy addresses the social, legal and ethical issues of AI. It has guidelines for AI integration in key sectors like education, healthcare, transportation and finance. It excludes AI applications in defence and national security. The policy establishes regulatory agencies for AI oversight.

Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Bangladesh formulated its cross-sectoral AI Strategy in 2020. It is designed to channel investments into the tech sector, to double GDP gains and boost labour productivity by 40% by 2035. The strategy focuses on public service, agriculture and healthcare. Its core pillars are research, workforce skilling, digital infrastructure, ethics, funding and industrialisation. It emphasises governance and collaboration for sustainable AI development.

Blockchain Strategy

Bangladesh formulated its Blockchain Strategy in 2020. Its agenda is to make the country competitive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by leveraging blockchain technology into governance and innovations by 2030. It sets short-, mid- and long-term goals. It prioritises blockchain in government service use and outlines a blockchain infrastructure for the country. It ensures stakeholder engagement and funding release for blockchain initiatives in different sectors of the economy.

Cybersecurity Act

Bangladesh enacted its main digital security law, the Cybersecurity Act, in 2023. This replaced the Digital Security Act of 2018. It is designed to protect critical information infrastructure and combat cyberthreats. It entails stringent actions against intrusion into vital systems, damage to computer systems, cyberterrorism and hacking-related crimes. Law enforcement agencies are empowered to take swift action. There are also penalties for false accusations to ensure fairness. It introduces mechanisms for data removal and blocking, to prioritise national security and economic stability.

Consumer Rights Protection Act

Bangladesh enacted its consumer protection law, the Consumer Rights Protection Act, in 2009. This protects consumers’ security and finances. It empowers consumers to seek damages for any harm incurred. It mandates agencies that deal with personal data to adhere to standard security practices to prevent misuse, aiming to safeguard consumers. It is designed to enhance consumer confidence in the marketplace and promote accountability among service providers.

Copyright Act

Bangladesh enacted its updated intellectual rights law, the Copyright Act, in 2023. It replaced a law from 2000. It factors in adaptive technology and the evolving landscape of innovation for both physical and digital realms. It also protects products, activities, databases and designs originating from digital tools.

Aspire to Innovate (a2i)

a2i is a government-led initiative in Bangladesh for scaling public sector innovations. It has programmatic scope in fostering public service innovation, social innovation, pro-poor fintech innovation and the empowerment of youth with future skills.

Judicial Administration Training Institute

The Judicial Administration Training Institute (JATI) is a crucial institution enhancing judiciary capacity in Bangladesh. It was established to uphold the rule of law and ensure impartial justice. It trains judicial officers on legal practice and court management. It is a centre for professional development and advancements in legal technology.

 

Medical research

 

Health Research Strategy

Bangladesh formulated its Health Research Strategy in 2020. It was updated from a previous version in 2009. It is meant to be updated every five years. It emphasises evidence-based policies to optimise resource use in the health sector. Its main objectives are innovating health services, advancing quality healthcare, funding research and integrating research within the health system. Guided by ethical standards, it ensures equitable financing and robust monitoring. It adopts a One Health approach with strategic partnerships in the country’s healthcare system.

Directorate General of Health Services

Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) is Bangladesh’s most empowered health sector agency. This is housed at the country’s Health Ministry. Implementing wide-ranging health services and programmes is its key responsibility. Additionally, DGHS offers technical assistance to the rest of the ministry. It is also the main regulatory body for the country’s health sector.

International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b)

icddr,b is a renowned research institute focusing on health issues affecting low-income populations in Bangladesh. It was founded in 1960. It is an independent organisation that works closely with the government. It focuses on diarrhoeal diseases, child health, nutrition and infectious diseases. It played a pivotal role in developing oral rehydration therapy, saving millions of lives worldwide. It leads research on emerging health challenges, including antimicrobial resistance and vaccine development.

Bangladesh Medical Research Council

Bangladesh established its medical research regulatory agency, Bangladesh Medical Research Council, in 1972. It oversees ethical standards in medical research, grants approvals for clinical trials and supports scientific studies. It facilitates collaboration between researchers, healthcare professionals and institutions.

Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research

IEDCR is Bangladesh’s leading institution for epidemiological surveillance, disease outbreak investigation and public health research. It was established in 1976. It is tasked to monitor disease, detect outbreaks early and formulate response strategies. Its research spans infectious diseases like dengue and malaria as well as pandemic threats. It collaborates with national and international agencies to strengthen Bangladesh’s epidemiological capabilities. It also helps formulate policies and interventions to safeguard the public from infectious diseases that arise in tropical countries like Bangladesh.

 

Air pollution

 

Department of Environment

Bangladesh’s primary regulatory body responsible for environmental regulation is the Department of Environment. It is housed under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It enforces emission standards and conducts environmental impact assessments for development projects.

Environment Conservation Act

Bangladesh enacted its fundamental environment legislation, the Environment Conservation Act, in 1995. It is a holistic framework for environmental conservation. It has the regulations for activities impacting air quality and covers environmental clearances and penalties for non-compliance.

Environment Conservation Rules

Bangladesh reformulated its go-to regulation for emissions control, the Environment Conservation Rules, in 2023. It was updated from a previous regulation from 1997. It regulates emissions from industries, small installations, urban municipal waste, agricultural waste and indoor air pollution.

Air Pollution Control Rules

Bangladesh formulated its specialised air quality improvement regulation, the Air Pollution Control Rules, in 2022. This was introduced to curb severe air pollution in the country. It focuses on developing air quality improvement plans as per local needs. It also has nationwide air quality management strategy.

Climate and Clean Air Coalition

Bangladesh, along with five other countries and the United Nations Environment Programme, formed the Climate and Clean Air Coalition in 2012. This partnership addresses short-lived climate pollutants as an urgent challenge. It works with 160 governments, intergovernmental bodies and civil society organisations to reduce these pollutants.

Action Plan for Reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Bangladesh formulated its short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) curbing roadmap, Action Plan for Reducing SLCPs, in 2018. This stipulates cost-effective ways to mitigate SLCPs. It includes 11 priority measures targeting black carbon and methane. Its implementation will reduce black carbon emissions by 40% and methane emissions by 17% by 2030.

Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kiln Establishment Control Act

Bangladesh formulated its targeted pollution control law on brick kilns, the Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kiln Establishment Control Act, in 2019. It prohibits the establishment of brick fields in residential, protected, commercial and agricultural areas. It also bans them in forests, wetlands and ecologically critical areas. The law strictly prohibits the use of wood as fuel in brick kilns. Fuel use must meet prescribed standards.

Action Plan for Clean Cooking

Bangladesh formulated an implementation roadmap for clean cooking, the Action Plan for Clean Cooking, in 2019. This is a clean cookstoves uptake plan to reduce rural household air pollution. It aims to have 100% clean cooking solutions across the country by 2030. It also focuses on introducing fuel options and fostering efficiency.

 

Wildlife

 

Wildlife Conservation and Security Act

Bangladesh enacted its main wildlife-related law, the Wildlife Conservation and Security Act, in 2012. The law strengthens the conservation, biodiversity safety and wildlife management regime of the country. It replaced the previous wildlife-related law, the Wildlife (Preservation) Act of 1974. The law identifies definitions, key stakeholders, violations and penalties relating to conservation.

Wildlife and Nature Conservation Circle, Department of Forest

In Bangladesh, the Forest Department, housed at the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, is responsible for conservation and wildlife management. The chief wildlife warden is the chief conservator of forests, who oversees a circle called the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Circle. Under this are different workstreams on wildlife management and environmental conservation.

Wildlife Crime Control Unit

Bangladesh established its wildlife crime-curbing agency, the Wildlife Crime Control Unit, in 2012. It is housed in the country’s environment and climate change ministry. The unit operates with wildlife inspectors, forest guards and personnel from different law enforcement agencies. It has a forensics lab and also collaborates with different civil society organisations for technical support.

Wildlife Conservation Masterplan 

Bangladesh formulated its long-term conservation strategy, the Wildlife Conservation Masterplan 2015–2035, in 2015. It provides direction for the wildlife management of the country. It details the guidelines for land use and governance stipulated under other wildlife policies such as the Biodiversity Strategy, the Tiger Action Plan, the Elephant Conservation Action Plan and the Wildlife Crime Strategy.

Conservation Strategy and Action Plan for Sharks and Rays in Bangladesh

Bangladesh formulated a targeted decadal plan to protect sharks and rays within its marine boundaries in 2023. It regulates overfishing and illegal trading activities of the species. It enlists the marine species that can be exported. Its goal is to control the cross-border trade of sharks and rays and ensure sustainable fishery livelihoods for the coastal community.

Tiger Action Plan

Bangladesh formulated its decade-long tiger conservation policy, the Tiger Action Plan 2027, in 2018. Tigers are indigenous to Bangladesh, especially its Sundarbans mangrove forest. The tiger is also the symbolic ‘national animal’ of the country. This is the second policy document on tigers, the first one having been published in 2009. It has three major parts: the importance of tiger conservation for the country; the threats and challenges to the tiger; and specific conservation action points. It also outlines stakeholder collaboration, research, capacity-building and the resource envelope for implementation.

Elephant Conservation Action Plan

Bangladesh formulated its decade-long elephant conservation policy, the Elephant Conservation Action Plan 2027, in 2018. Species such as wild Asian elephants have become critically endangered. The policy gives guidelines and a monitoring framework for elephant conservation. It has three parts: the status of elephants and their habitats in the country; the threats to elephants and their habitats; and goals for an integrated conservation effort.

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is Bangladesh’s quasi-military force operating in coastal areas. It was created in 1994. It patrols in the Bay of Bengal with the aim of conserving marine resources and preventing illegal wildlife trade. It also has a special role in combatting wildlife crime in the Sundarbans mangroves of southwestern tip of Bangladesh.

 

Climate crisis

 

Environment Policy

Bangladesh adopted its Environment Policy in 2019. This addresses the challenges of environment and biodiversity conservation. It is a tool for the overall environmental conservation management of the country. It emphasises the mountain environment, water life security and eco-friendly tourism issues. It also identifies 24 areas of interventions mandated to different regulatory bodies.

Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan

Bangladesh formulated its signature Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) in 2009. Bangladesh is the first country among developing countries to formulate such an integrated action plan. It deals with the adverse impacts of climate change. It identifies 44 programmes under six themes. It identifies realistic adaptation and mitigation efforts to counter climate change challenges.

Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund

Bangladesh established an earmarked fund called the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) in 2010. This is publicly financed revenue to ensure investment in disaster preparedness and to smooth implementation of the country’s climate policies. It can be accessed by both government agencies and civil society groups.

Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100

Bangladesh adopted its landmark Delta Plan 2100 in 2018. This long-term integrated strategy is one of the most comprehensive development documents in terms of addressing the adverse impacts of climate change posed by the country’s deltaic formation. It channels environmentally sensitive financing into development initiatives. It also focuses on water management to minimise the damage of river floods. It has the following six goals: to ensure safety from climate-related disasters; to enhance water security; to manage an integrated river system; to conserve wetlands; to develop equitable governance; and to support trans-boundary water resources.

Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan 2030

Bangladesh unveiled its Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan – Decade 2030 in 2021. This is an instrument to convert climate vulnerability into opportunity. It also sets an example for the Climate Vulnerability Forum – an international platform of the countries most affected by climate change. It is named after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh. It is designed to protect Bangladesh’s economy from climate hazards in times ahead.

Nationally Determined Contributions

In line with its commitment to international treaty obligations in the Paris Agreement (to reduce greenhouse gases), Bangladesh updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2021. This revised NDC includes more ambitious mitigation targets, both unconditional and conditional. For its unconditional contribution, with its own resources Bangladesh’s pledge is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 27.6 million MtCO2e, or 6.7% below business-as-usual levels, by 2030. Additionally, as part of its conditional contribution, with international support, the country aims to further reduce emissions by 22% below business-as-usual levels by 2030.

National Adaptation Plan of Bangladesh

Bangladesh formulated its climate change adaptation agenda, the National Adaptation Plan of Bangladesh (NAP), in 2023. This is a forward-looking plan with a timeframe till 2050. It is designed to make Bangladesh climate-resilient through effective adaptation strategies. It focuses on preserving ecosystems and promoting sustainable economic growth. The NAP includes 23 adaptation strategies and 113 interventions, addressing 11 climate-stress regions in the country.

Disaster Management Act

Bangladesh enacted its disaster response legal framework, the Disaster Management Act, in 2012. It strengthens disaster management activities and establishes effective disaster management infrastructure. It emphasises swift post-disaster rescue, aid disbursement and rehabilitation. It is a response to the harmful effects of climate-induced disasters, which are frequent in the country. The law ensures public and private partnerships. It led to the country’s signature Standing Orders on Disaster.

 

Financial regulations

 

Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission

Bangladesh’s capital market regulator, the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), was formed in 1993. It protects the interest of investors and formulates policies to ensure good governance in the sector.

Asset-Backed Securities Issue Rule

Bangladesh’s Securities and Exchange Commission declared a specialised regulation, the Asset-Backed Securities Issue Rules, to oversee some securitised products in 2004. It has guidelines for the formation of special purpose entities (SPEs) and receivables sales to SPEs. According to the rule, every public offering of debt instruments, shares at a premium and right shares issued at a premium are to be rated by an external credit-rating institution.

Secured Transaction (Movable Property) Act

Bangladesh enacted its Secured Transaction (Movable Property) Act in 2023. It recognises movable property as collateral against loans from the banking system. It facilitates lending against property as collateral and provides legal protection to lending transactions between lenders and borrowers. It specifies the types of immovable properties that can be used as collateral. It also sets guidelines for the valuation of collateral, the loan application process and the registration of financing statements.

Money Loan Court Act

Bangladesh enacted its main loan default law, the Money Loan Court Act, in 2003.  It has established a separate court for dealing with money loan cases. It obliges banks and other financial institutions to auction any mortgaged property before approaching the court.

Stock Exchange

Bangladesh’s capital market consists of two stock exchanges: the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) and the Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE). Bangladesh’s Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), as watchdog, regulates these. Their operations are conducted by automated trading system.

 

Blended education

 

Blended Education Master Plan

Bangladesh formulated its decade-long blueprint for adopting technology in education, the Blended Education Master Plan, in 2022. It is designed to integrate new measurement tools, empower educators, increase investment and nurture data-driven policy-making. It integrates various educational segments, such as primary, higher-secondary, faith-based and technical education. The plan recommends comprehensive curriculum reforms to incorporate digital learning, 21st-century skills and climate change considerations.

Smart Bangladesh ICT Master Plan (draft)

The Smart Bangladesh ICT Master Plan is a cross-sectoral tech-integration agenda to help steer Bangladesh to be an advanced economy by 2041. It is still in draft and has not been adopted as a policy. The plan is aligned with the country’s education sector targets to facilitate 21st century skills. It will leverage blended education by integrating tech-enabled methods in the education system.

Blended Education Accelerator

The Blended Education Accelerator is Bangladesh’s signature public–private collaboration platform, which brings in stakeholders from across the education sector. It facilitates direct interaction among users of blended education – students, teachers, parents, administrators and policymakers. It also supports innovators to rapidly scale up blended education solutions.

MuktoPaath e-learning platform 

The MuktoPaath e-learning platform is a Bangladeshi public sector initiative set up in 2016 to promote anywhere-anytime learning. Anyone can use it to access interactive content, assessments and capacity development tools. It offers over 200 courses in diverse categories.

Konnect (Kishore Batayon) 

Konnect is a Bangladeshi publicly funded portal for adolescents to develop their life skills through edutainment. It is popularly known as Kishore Batayon, meaning ‘adolescent outreach.’ The portal has over 30,000 knowledge products, mostly catering to rural youth. These include online classes, books and upskilling materials. These are designed to improve critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership and career-building.

Teachers’ Portal

Bangladesh introduced a collaborative government-led innovation named the Teacher’s Portal in 2013. It mainstreams blended education while developing teachers’ digital skills across the board. It has an online repository of free shareable multimedia educational content. It has a robust peer feedback mechanism.

 

Girl child protection

 

Gender rights in Penal Code

Bangladesh’s Penal Code of 1860 (Section 312) directs that anyone who intentionally induces a miscarriage in a pregnant woman can face imprisonment for up to three years. The only exception is in cases to save the mother’s life. The consent of the woman or her guardian to the cause of such miscarriage does not justify the act.

Supreme Court ruling on Pre-Natal Sex Determination

In 2020, Bangladesh’s Supreme Court asked its government to justify why it was not prohibiting the gender detection of unborn babies. Such a measure would safeguard the rights of both the unborn and expectant mothers. In the ruling, the court also questioned the government’s action to safeguard a girl child’s birth. It led the government to accelerate policy actions to tackle sex determination in the country.

Guideline for the Prevention of Son Preference and the Risk of Gender-Biased Sex Selection

Bangladesh formulated a special guideline to ban gender detection of the unborn, the Guideline for the Prevention of Son Preference and the Risk of Gender-Biased Sex Selection, in 2022. It bans gender detection during pregnancy. Key obligations cover restricting sex-determining technologies (like ultrasound machines), advertisement on sex selection, a standard code of ethics, maintaining screening data and awareness messaging at clinical centres.

Women’s Development Policy

Bangladesh formulated its signature progressive gender empowerment policy, the Women’s Development Policy, in 2011. The country first formulated a women’s issue-focused policy in 1997. The renewed policy targets the most critical issues in Bangladesh – namely, women’s equal share of property and fair opportunities in the labour market. It provides women with full control over their rights to land, earned property, health, inheritance and credit. It also upholds the rights of all women irrespective of their religion. A national work plan is formulated to see through the implementation of this policy. The policy reform has faced political backlash from conservative quarters.

Child Policy

Bangladesh formulated its children’s development plan, the Child Policy, in 1994. It was reformulated in 2011. The policy sets standards for services provided to children without any discrimination. It focuses on protecting child rights, preventing child abuse and promoting a sense of citizenship among children.

Population Policy

Bangladesh formulated its core strategy for gender partnership, the Population Policy, in 2012. It integrates a gender-sensitive workplan for both men and women in all public and private sectors. It has an agenda of women’s skills development, family planning and reproductive health support, childcare support and countering human trafficking.

 

Cover © Supreme court building, situated at Ramna, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 30 March 2013 | Photo by Mahmud Hossain Opu.

Photo © Mahmud Hossain Opu