Abu Naser Khan
This profile was prepared when Abu Naser Khan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Naser has observed that in Bangladesh, citizen-led organizations are good at delivering services but less effective at changing policy. Policy changes often result from the advocacy of famous, respected, and well-connected people whose personal interests happen to have focused them on one issue area. Rather than waiting to see who naturally drifts to environmental protection and advocacy, Naser consciously draws in people who can move campaigns forward, influence public opinion, and change government policy. Of course, the government working alone can't solve all environmental problems, but Naser sees that it is critical to engage policy makers in the planning and design stage of new initiatives. Thus, his idea is founded on the principle of coalition-building, of bringing together community leaders, government officials, and citizens to discuss environmental problems and agree on solutions. The high profile movement he has begun has attracted journalists, who come for the personalities and for the issue. So far, Naser and his team have been successful in bringing about important changes in policy and practice, such as banning the import of leaded fuel, protecting Dhaka's streams and lakes, and prohibiting two-stroke engine vehicles.