Urbanisation-led development does not necessarily have to hurt the environment as both could be assured with effective planning and smart energy and transportation systems, experts told a seminar in the capital yesterday.
Smart energy refers to meeting energy needs with the most cost effective long term approach having the lowest environmental impact.
During the 1990s, Sweden achieved GDP growth of 60 percent but simultaneously reduced carbon emissions by 20 percent, said Lisa Tullus, consultant of Business Sweden, the Scandinavian country's export and investment council.
“Urban solid waste is actually a source of power,” she said, “A lot of energy is virtually thrown away if waste is thrown away.” Local wastes should be a source of fuel for local transportation, said Lisa citing an example of smart sustainable urbanisation.
Stockholm lakes once used to be so polluted that one would not even dip into the water but those are now so clean that one can even drink it, she said.
The Embassy of Sweden in collaboration with Business Sweden organised the seminar on Smart City by Sweden at a hotel.
A smart city can be defined by the ability to integrate multiple technological solutions in a secure fashion to manage the city's assets which include local departments, information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, law enforcement, and other community services.
Swedish Ambassador Johan Frisell said Dhaka was a fast growing city, along with Lagos, with an annual urban growth rate of 3.4 percent which was higher than that of Beijing, Shanghai, Kolkata and Delhi.
Around three or four lakh people migrate to Dhaka city every year and since urban growth rate has a direct effect on economic development, achieving the 2021 development goals would require double the present power demand, he said.
He said Sweden, as one of the founding fathers of developing smart city innovations, could help procure various products and financial services.
The seminar's objective was to highlight Swedish companies' solutions for sustainable and efficient urban development in power, energy, water resources and transportation sectors.
Representatives of various Swedish companies including Ericsson, Axis Communications, ABB, Sensys Gtso, Scania, Hifab and Volvo gave presentations on how their services and high-tech products and innovations could contribute to building a smart city.
Citing that only 22 people live per square kilometre in Sweden while the figure is over 1.44 lakh in Bangladesh, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Annisul Huq said the smart city innovations have to be tailored to the complex needs of Dhaka city.
As a measure to ease the horrendous traffic congestion, he said, DNCC was soon going to facilitate the construction of 22 U-shaped loops along a 36-kilometre stretch of the Dhaka-Gazipur road to manage 69 right turnings.
Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain also attended.