Sundarban is Bengali for beautiful forest, and is the name of the mangrove forest spanning 10,000 square kilometers in India and Bangladesh. The forest is a Ramsar site of international importance, a UNESCO natural world heritage site and home to Bengal tigers and hundreds of other species. The Sundarbans are a natural wonder found in two countries who are trying to protect it, while also trying to continue improving life for their citizens. 

The Bangladesh side of the Sundarbans will be expecting a new rise in development with upcoming completion of the Padma Bridge. The Padma Bridge Project is the largest development project in Bangladesh and is expected to be finished in 2022

The 6.2 km long bridge will be beneficial to the Bangladesh GDP, boosting it by a possible 1.2 percent as it will connect southern districts to the capital, Dhaka. The completion of this much-awaited bridge will be both a great opportunity and a difficult challenge for the Bangladesh government. The environmental risks of the bridge completion have many worried about the Sundarbans. 

The Padma Bridge is not directly connected to the Sundarbans but it will lead to new development in the area. The forest is a major source of blue carbon and in 2010 the Sundarbans in Bangladesh were estimated to have a carbon reserve of 56 million metric tons, a value in the carbon market of at least $280 million USD annually. In addition the forest and its biodiversity provides incalculable benefits to the livelihoods of the 3.5 million who already live around the mangrove forest. There is money to be made in development of the area, but there is also money and environmental benefits to be saved in the preservation of the Sundarbans. 

Bangladesh is already an example of leadership in climate-change adaptation and biodiversity protection, with large commitments under the Paris Climate Accord and the Convention on Biological Diversity. With the completion of the Padma Bridge, the world is watching what will happen. The Bangladesh government can be a leader and show how to continue building economic growth while commiting to green development and preservation of vital ecosystems like the Sundarbans.