Sunday, June 5, 2005

Aspiring for a clean and green city

"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of our technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." -- Lyndon B. Johnson

Standing on the 19th Floor of IDB Bhaban all I could see was a pure, concentrated urban landscape. From north to south, east to west, the entire horizon was captivated by intense urbanization, in other words -- I was looking at the mushrooming Dhaka metropolis, which is to become the second largest city in the world by 2015.

The vastly expanding urban areas are giving rise to enormous socio economic and environmental issues, which are becoming quite a tedious matter for many countries to deal with. To bring this matter into the limelight the theme for the World Environment Day this year is: "Green Cities -- Plan for the Planet". The agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues and empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development. It aims to promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues and advocate partnership for a more prosperous future (UNEP, 2005).

The 30 million urban people of Bangladesh live in the country's 522 urban centers of which Dhaka is a mega city with a population of 13.2 million. 50 percent of the total urban population is concentrated in only four large cities (Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna and Rajshahi) and over 30 percent in Dhaka city alone. Every year Dhaka receives more than 400,000 new migrants (Islam, 2005). Fulfilling the needs and providing shelter and utility services to such a vast number of new citizens besides the already existing large population of the city, is a massive task and this results in environmental degradation....

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