1st Conference of BUF


Bangladesh is standing at the threshold of urbanisation with 28 to 30 per cent of its population living in urban areas. With a 3 per cent growth in the urban population, half of Bangladesh could be expected to live in urban areas by 2050. While some largely saw the increase in urban population as a challenge, it should be noted that the urban sector contributed 60 per cent to the GDP. The impact of urbanisation on economic growth has been significant though the people do not feel its benefits equally - disparity between cities and within cities has grown. This was accompanied by a number of challenges such as unemployment; break down in law and order; social and cultural problems and so on. The Government's vision of 2021 for urbanisation was both a challenge and an opportunity for Bangladesh and while the Government remains a key player in urban development, the challenge lay in finding ways in which all the stakeholders could work together. There was need to make urbanisation a positive power and therefore the need for a platform to bring all stakeholders together. This raised the issue of who would lead and who would be the custodian of such a platform - the government, the private sector, the civil society, NGOs, the slum dwellers or city dwellers?

For a long while, urban sector stakeholders in Bangladesh have felt keenly the need for a national level platform to address urban issues. A national urban forum in Bangladesh, it was felt, would have to be relevant and able to facilitate policymakers and urban communities to engage with each other to find a common vision for the country’s urban future.

The idea for setting up an urban forum was inspired by the bi-annual World Urban Forum in which Bangladesh participates and contributes to regularly.

The experience that the Bangladesh participants had come away with from the five consecutive sessions of the World Urban Forum, followed by the Sylhet Conversation in 2010 which was organized by the LCG Urban Sector Work Group, reiterated the urgent need for a forum.

Thereafter a preliminary consultation, organized in January, 2011 by some of the leading urban development specialists of the country as well as members of Parliament and government officials, brought together key individuals and organizations working on the issue of urbanization. The consultation intended to start the process of visualizing a national urban forum.