ICLEI South Asia, in collaboration with GIZ Bangladesh, hosted two sessions during the third International Conference on Urban and Regional Planning, 2023, organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Planners on September 24, 2023, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The two sessions were held as part of the Climate Resilient Inclusive Smart Cities (CRISC) project, funded by GIZ.
The first session on “Bangladesh Urban Vision 2050: From Planning to Practice” brought key stakeholders together to create consensus on the immediate next steps needed for the development of an urban vision for Bangladesh. The session also created a to-do list for the ongoing revision of Bangladesh’s National Urban Sector Policy 2011 (draft) and the upcoming ninth five-year plan.
Mr. Mostafa Quaium Khan, Adviser, Bangladesh Urban Forum (BUF), elaborated on BUF’s efforts towards achieving Urban Vision 2050 and emphasised that the government should focus on implementing the existing plans and policies for climate resilient urban development. Dr. Mohammad Abdul Mohit, Professor Emeritus, International Islamic University, Malaysia and Professor Emeritus, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, also placed greater emphasis on implementation of plans than on planning itself. Mr. Werner Buchert, Country Representative, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany, highlighted the value of building local geoinformation for resilient urban design.
Mr. Gopal Krishna Debnath, Additional Chief Engineer, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), stressed on the necessity of developing master plans for all municipalities in the same way as done in Sirajganj and Satkhira under the CRISC Project. He also pointed out the role of soil tests in every sub-district region to determine climate hazards, the significance of urban agriculture and alternative livelihoods, as well as stringent enforcement of governmental regulations in realising Urban Vision 2050.
Dr. Dana de la Fontaine, Cluster Coordinator for Climate Change and Sustainable Urban Development Cluster at GIZ Bangladesh, spoke about the importance of proper implementation of plans for Bangladesh’s prosperity, including decentralising urban systems and addressing insufficient human resources in municipalities.
The session helped to identify emerging demands for current and future urban and regional development policies and measures.
The second session on “Increasing Accessibility of Climate Finance by Addressing Local Challenges” discussed the finance needs of local governments for inclusive urban development and helped in identifying finance opportunities within Government of Bangladesh and prioritising climate initiatives that foster inclusive urban development.
Ms. Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Associate Director, ICLEI South Asia, discussed the significant challenges to implementing plans at the local level, including inadequate financing and limited access to sources of climate finance. Other experts provided insights into the financial mechanisms geared towards climate action, the key challenges, and the transparency involved in accessing the funds. Dr. Fontaine stated that although there are still difficulties in acquiring external funding, Bangladesh’s private sector is thriving in the climate finance sector. Building capacity and meticulous planning while considering risks and constraints are necessary for implementing climate-resilient plans. The major obstacle to executing climate action and master plans, according to Mr. Anisur Rahman, Town Planner at Sirajganj Municipality, is political will. He pointed out that professionals from different backgrounds, such as engineers and architects, are not included in the development of city master plans, and that there is a need for climate-specific budgets and awareness campaigns.
Dr. Neelopal Adri, Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, BUET, spoke about the need for clear government guidelines on funding for urban adaptation projects, adding that there should be a fixed percentage of trust funds or government funding for them. Local government bodies should receive the required training for climate change adaptation projects, and LGED should take the lead in training them under the LGRD ministry, he added.
Dr. Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus, BRAC University, highlighted the importance of involving the youth in assuming responsibility and contributing to progress, and emphasised on reducing the impact of heat waves, changing some rules and regulations regarding land acquisition, and planting equal amounts of small trees to replace the cutting down of trees for widening of roads.
The session led to the development of a document that identified opportunities for accessing climate finance available with the Bangladesh Government and the strategies needed for accessing them.