Kathmandu 2 November 2020--- Nepal organized the first event/webinar to celebrate the World Cities Day 2020.

Aiming to mainstream the current issues of urbanization, the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) joined hands with UN Habitat Nepal and other line agencies to organize the program. It aims to encourage cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing urban challenges towards sustainable development. Under the overarching theme of Better City, Better Life, the theme of 2020 is Valuing our Communities and Cities.

Welcoming guests to the programme, Padma Kumar Mainalee, Dy. Director of DUDBC stated that the collaborative effort was demanded to address the new challenges of this sector.

PS Joshi, Program Manager of UN Habitat Nepal shared his views on essence for redefining rural and urban development. The sustainable development of urban areas should be focused on a livable environment to mankind. The three tier governments must invest on connectivity and linkage to the rural-urban market aiming to foster economic activities.

The meeting was shown videos from Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the Executive Director of UN Habitat.

Former vice chairperson of National Planning Commission Shankar Sharma, who was the keynote speaker stated that the entire population will move to a comparative newly developed area for their quality life. It’s time to talk about urban areas, semi-urban and rural area defining the crystal clear concept of development.

“The urban area has become the physical, political and economic focal point in a cluster manner. The development activities carried on certain territory shouldn’t be encasing and must have clear demarcation of political and economic zones.” he added.

Maniram Gelal, the Director General of DUDBC said that most areas in Nepal are sub- urban. The core urban area is a major source of economic activities so that each individual should value the cities and urban areas. The pandemic of COVID- 19 also compelled to decentralize the development paradigm to urban, sub urban and rural areas.  As a leading entity of the Nepal Government to carry on infrastructure development, DUDBC is utilizing the resources to develop new corridors, industrial zones, integrated development and developing livable zones for people   

Bidya Sundar Shakya, Mayor of Kathmandu has committed to manage the core area of Kathmandu valley emphasizing the cultural, environmental, social and economic dimension to enrich the urban value. We are defining the criteria of smart cities and requesting other local governments to invest on physical, environmental and social development. He further clarified that the major problem is inter agency coordination, clear demarcation on roles and responsibilities of local and federal government.  

State Minister Ram Bir Manandhar, of MoUD highlighted that the government is prioritizing the quality outcome on development activities like international airport, tunnel way, fast track  and other road connectivity.

Minister of Urban Development Krishna Gopal Shrestha stated that we have 293 municipalities with around 60% of population in urban area at present. We need to rethink on fostering the construction and development activities in sustainable and durable way. Over half the Nepal’s population lives in urban areas and this figure is expected to increase in coming days. He further said that the ministry has formulated and endorsed Urban Development Policy and Strategy and set the legal ground targeting the better cities. He informed that ministry is carrying different studies (DPR) in consultation with private entities to define the demographic composition, figures and distribution channels, and requirement.

In the technical session, Dr. Sangita Singh presented a paper and stated that it is the right time after the devastating earthquake of 2015 to carry on the infrastructure development in proper manner. Depicting the post scenario of earthquake, she has suggested to the local governments to add on the cultural and social value of heritage areas like Bungamati and Patan in its own value. The construction of permanent infrastructure, ignoring the cultural aspects might be less valuable in future. She added to reshape our pre-occupied mind set of development and advised the local government for keeping the traditional values of any site during construction time.

This webinar is observed in presence of stakeholders to raise awareness of the Global Citites Day and highlighted the major challenges and opportunities in development.