Bangladesh has recently been enjoying significant economic growth mainly arising from an export led development strategy. However, in that process its natural environment has been degraded and become more vulnerable in geophysical terms (e.g. environmental pollution). Much of the Bangladeshi population are also vulnerable in socio-economic terms due primarily to widespread poverty. In this context we ask, albeit sceptically, whether there is any chance of holding corporations to account for their environmental responsibilities. Using the notions of vulnerability and ecological rifts we answer this question by providing evidence from published sources and a series of 32 semi-structured interviews with Bangladeshi stakeholder groups. Key findings include, inter alia, corporate reluctance to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their activities. Our interviewees discuss the possibility of a role for mandatory corporate reporting in enhancing corporate accountability and we argue that this is essential if the contradictions and irrationalities of the globalized capitalist system are to be made visible. Achieving such accountability, however, will not be easy due to a lack of political will and the prohibitive costs involved. Incurring such costs could raise the dangerous prospect of Bangladesh losing business to other, less regulated, economies.
Bibliographical note© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Funding: British Council.
- ecological rifts
- environmental accountability