grantees » Sharif Jamil

Sharif Jamil, Bangladesh

Sharif is an extremely passionate environmental activist who focuses on sustainable river and forest management. It is difficult not to be floored by his devotion, especially as he also works for his family business: “I wish to dedicate myself to this holy work to set an example for all the citizens of Bangladesh, so everyone feels ownership and responsibility towards our rivers.” He is the youngest Joint Secretary of the Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), the largest and pioneering CSO in Bangladesh that organizes the people’s movement for conservation, and he has been working on environmental issues for over a decade. He was deeply moved towards action; “My activism grew out of my deep realizations about the state of the environment in Bangladesh and certainly thinking of my children, the next generation of innocent people and their future.” Sharif is a natural organizer and leader, and plays a vital role in rallying awareness, enthusiasm and action. He has implemented river-saving movements for over 20 rivers so far, and painstakingly adapts his approach to each river: “Rivers have different characters […] touching the emotion and practical realities of the riverine people.”

Through the JWH initiative grant, Sharif gained knowledge of concerns and methodologies pertinent to various environmental issues by attending and participating in many environmental conferences. He grew sensitive to obstacles and priorities, expanding his horizons: “It nourished my capacity as a bridge between the grass roots and policy makers […] and helped me to develop a wide ranging network among grassroots activists and like-minded people.” Sharif also gained confidence as a public figure by attending and organizing many awareness-raising and strategic events, covered regularly by the press. “I now have achieved wide-ranging recognition as a social activist for the environmental movement. Representing community interests in policy-making has become an obvious reality for me. The exposure I got through implementing the plan under the JWH initiative really paved my future path in an innovative way to contribute to the environment and people locally, nationally and internationally.” Despite the difficulties in acquiring governmental support and accountability, “the environmental movement has a new dimension. It is now spread out all over the country. People are motivated and united.” Sharif continues to fight for the protection and revival of rivers, their ecosystems, indigenous forests and urban green spaces. Today Sharif is the Buriganga Riverkeeper, the very first Waterkeeper in Bangladesh, and the National Coordinator for the forest-centered Adibashi Poribesh Roskhya Andolon (APRA).  To put it simply: “We have to save our life, livelihood, water and rivers.”