Pointing out that nearly 50% of Bangladesh’s population is expected to live in cities by 2030, speakers at a panel discussion at the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) called for making city development more ‘inclusive’.

They were speaking at ‘Sustainable Cities: Services and Protection for the Vulnerable’, a panel discussion held on the last day, January 30, of the two-day forum at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

Minister for Housing and Public Works SM Rezaul Karim chaired the session, while Md. Shahid Ullah Khandaker, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Public Works, presented the keynote address. 

The minister pointed out various initiatives of the government to provide accommodation to the homeless and in his keynote, Khandaker highlighted the other steps taken by the government to improve the cities.

He continued that attaining the Sustainable Development Goal 11, which talks of sustainable cities and communities, “would be impossible by 2030 without partnership between all stakeholders - the government, development practitioners, private sector and citizens.”

Sudipto Mukerjee, UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh, pointed out that the slum-dwellers keep the cities running. “They are actually the people doing all the menial jobs that otherwise no one else would be doing.”

He urged learning more about the slum dwellers and their needs. Citing the joint initiative of UNDP and DFID, Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities Project, Sudipto called for their involvement in city planning exercises. 

“If possible, what we have been doing under the DFID supported urban initiative… organise them so that they can participate meaningfully in any city planning exercise.”   

Head of German International Cooperation, GIZ, Angelika Fleddermann, also called for integrated urban planning and involving the private sector and specially the vulnerable residents in the planning process.

She also highlighted the need to ensure access to information for the underprivileged, specially climate change migrants, to make the development initiatives more sustainable.   

Talking about the challenges she said, “The cities have to be made more resilient to climate change. It is becoming a, bigger and bigger issue here.”

Emphasizing that the process requires financial and other resources, Angelika urged for more private sector involvement in that aspect.

Former Rajuk Chairman, Nurul Huda, stressed for better coordination among the relevant bodies that work for city development. 

Md. Nurul Amin, Secretary, Planning Division, Ridma Khan, Director, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Andrew Cross, Chief Financial Officer, AIIB, also spoke at the event.

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