If Bangladesh wants to continue having high economic growth, it should rebuild its cities to be sustainable and inclusive. Vulnerable people living in cities should be engaged in making a meaningful contribution to economic growth. The private sector should take responsibility of financing along with the public sector.
Speakers stressed these points at a session titled "Sustainable Cities: Service and Protection for the Vulnerable" on Thursday. It was part of a series of sessions under the two-day Bangladesh Development Forum 2020 that began in Dhaka on Wednesday.
With just two days to go before the capital city choses its mayors, the high-level participants were deliberating on the challenges of a mega-city that Dhaka is going to have to deal with in coming days.
Housing and Public Works Secretary Md Shahid Ullah Khondaker in a keynote presentation observed that the government is in the process of providing housing for all of its citizens living in the cities.
He added that the government has taken multipronged initiatives be eligibile for graduation from the least developed country (LDC) category by 2024, and obtain the status of a developed country by 2041.
He mentioned the concept of "Amar Gram, Amar Shahar" that the government is considering in order to reduce urban-rural disparity.
Speaking as a panel discussant, UNDP Resident Representative Sudipta Mukherjee said that by 2030, more than 50 percent of the people of Bangladeshi will live in urban centres, most of them in Dhaka and Chattogram.
He said slum dwellers are the lifeline of cities, and they need to be included in the economic process.
Head of German Development Cooperation, GIZ, Angelika Fleddermann stressed the need to empower cities to make decisions on planning and implementation down to the council levels.
She urged the authorities to keep climate change issues in mind, and to take steps to make the cities climate resilient.
Andrew Cross, the chief financial officer of Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), said sustainable and inclusive cities are key to the future economic development of Bangladesh.
Former chairman of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, Nurul Huda, lamented the fact that there was no proper master plan for Dhaka city.