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Poverty reduction is the main goal of the Government of Bangladesh because per capita Gross National Income is only US 440 dollar, 36% of the population lives below US1 dollar per day. This concern is compounded by challenges relating to the extremely dense population, a high population growth rate, and persistent yet inequitable economic growth. These processes are resulting in the rapid and severe degradation on natural capital and environment, which in effect is further marginalizing many segments in society, in particular rural women. To address the intertwined problems of poverty reduction, lack of access of the poor to common-pool resources, and rapid depletion of natural resources, there is an immediate need to build the capacity of institutions and to develop human resources that have an experiential learning background, applied knowledge and skills in these areas, and the ability to assist effective Environmental Governance.

Mangrove at Sitakunda Coast, Chittagong. Photo by: Sayedur R Chowdhury "North South University (Bangladesh) and the University of Manitoba (Canada) are building on their existing partnerships and working together with the Non-Governmental Organizations, private enterprises, Government of Bangladesh and community partners to enhance human resource capacity, specifically of rural women, to augment the scope of micro-enterprises in order to simultaneously contribute to reducing poverty and environmental sustainability.

Through this project, institutional and human resource capacity will be strengthened to support and reconcile pro-poor economic growth with conservation through: 1) local-level private sector development (i.e., through micro-credit based, women-led micro-enterprises), 2) promoting good governance, and 3) strengthening capacity in environmental sustainability.

Environmental Governance refers to an interactive process where citizens act collectively in making decisions about access, allocation and use of natural resources, as well as about resource and environmental sustainability. The citizens make such decisions with and through government, universities, non-government organizations, private sector, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. Engaging the citizens in such a process is warranted because these decisions affect their lives and livelihoods.