Urbanisation in the country is necessary but it will have to be done protecting the waterbodies, greeneries, and hills, speakers told the 3rd Urban Dialogue yesterday.
Around 30 percent, or 4.5 crore, of the country's population live in urban areas, which will increase to over 50 percent in 2047, said urban planning expert Prof Nazrul Islam.
He said the economic growth increased due to urbanisation as urban areas generated 65 percent of Bangladesh's GDP but open space, greeneries, and waterbodies should be protected at the same time.
The two-day Urban Dialogue 2015, organised by Urban INGO Forum Bangladesh and the disaster science and management department of Dhaka University, started at the university's senate building yesterday.
Stressing the need for planned urbanisation, Prof Sheikh Tawhidul Islam of Jahangirnagar University said in his keynote paper that urbanisation occurred in an unplanned way in Bangladesh over the last three or four decades.
He said planned urbanisation started in the 1950s in cities like Dhaka, Khulna, Rangpur, Mymensingh but later unplanned developed dominated and the poor people from the surrounding rural areas crammed into the cities.
Widening inequality in resource allocation and benefit sharing, especially in rural settings, coupled with disasters, prompted the poor to migrate to urban areas, Tawhidul said.
Stressing the need for incorporating disaster risk reduction (DRR) issues in plans, he said the current urban planning process, especially the master plans and related strategic documents, got limited space to accommodate DRR measures since the objectives of urban planning or management were not sufficiently aligned with reducing disaster risks.
Speaking as chief gust, State Minister for Finance MA Mannan said development would happen certainly but it was necessary to ensure justice, equal distribution and fixing priorities.
Prof Dr Nasreen Ahmad, pro-vice chancellor of DU; Shahidullah Mia, additional secretary of the disaster management and relief ministry; and Wilfred Sikukula, senior filed operations director, World Vision Bangladesh, addressed the dialogue, and it was chaired by John A Armstrong, national director of the Habitat for Humanity.