1st Conference of BUF

Message of the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh


Neal Walker

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh


Neal Walker


I would like to congratulate the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh on its strong leadership in developing the Bangladesh Urban Forum, a policy platform that will promote wide stakeholder discussion and consensus on the country's urban future.

Such a platform comes at a critical time. The urban population globally is growing rapidly - more than half of the world's seven billion residents now live in cities and towns. Bangladesh is no exception to this phenomenon: the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has found that already more than quarter of the population live in cities and towns while, according to the UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs, the proportion will reach half by 2050. This massive demographic shift was enormous implications in terms of poverty, governance and the environment. If well-planned and managed, however, the challenge of rapid urbanization can be turned into an opportunity, leading to strong, inclusive and sustainable national growth and human development.

Over the last year the Government of Bangladesh has taken some major steps towards improving urban development. The Sixth-Five Year Plan comprises plans to improve city governance and environment management and reduce urban poverty, among others. The reinvigoration and impending finalization of the national Urban Sector Policy is another positive achievement. The UN system in Bangladesh is dedicated to supporting the Government to achieve its urban development goals and has dedicated one section of the current UN Development Assistance Framework to achieving pro-poor urban development. UNDP in particular has been a key supporter of the Government's urban objectives, especially in organizing the Bangladesh Urban Forum and supporting urban poverty reduction and urban governance initiatives.

I would like to stress that the challenges facing Bangladesh's cities and towns are numerous and daunting, and no entity, public or private, governmental or non-governmental, academic or practitioner, can face these challenges alone. I welcome all those who are committed to turning ideas into action to join us in our quest for more sustainable urban development. Together, we can conceive how to ensure an equitable and sustainable urban future and make our cities and towns work for all.


Neal Walker