Regional Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Urbanization in South Asia 17-18 December, 2014, New Delhi


At present, over 650 million people live in South Asia’s cities – nearly one-third of the Asia-Pacific region’s total urban population. India alone is expected to add another 404 million to its cities by 2050.

Held in New Delhi on 17-18 December, 2014, the Regional Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Urbanization in South Asia, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission (UNESCAP) in collaboration with the National Institute of Urban Affairs and the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. The Regional Policy Dialogue was formally inaugurated Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, Honorouble Minister for Urban Development, Government of India. Mr. Babul Suprio, Minister of State for Urban Development, Government of India participated in the valedictory session. Mr.Shankar Agarwal, IAS, Secretary, Urban Development and Mr. Durga Shanker Mishra, IAS , Additional Secretary, Urban Development also took part in the deliberation. The programme was attended by an invited group of 60 people representing government agencies, academia, research organisations, independent consultants, financial institutions. The participants were both from the region and international organisations with a stake on the urban future of south Asia.

The dialogue considered how to meet these pressing demands on infrastructure alongside the urgent need for accessible and affordable shelter, adequate livelihoods, healthy and safe environments, and good governance. It explored various good practices of sustainable urban development fromSouth Asian cities; from holistic urban planning and governance to specific interventions on waste, energy,water and waste-water management.

The outcome of the Policy Dialogue will be used as inputs to the Third United Nations Conference (Habitat III) to be held in Quito during October 2016. It will help outline a new urban agenda for the region and also provide inputs for various regional and sub-regional knowledge exchanges.

What was learned and relevance to K-Hub

1. Improved understanding of the urbanization challenges facing South Asia and awareness on the recent debate on sustainable urbanization.

3. Enhanced knowledge of potential new partnerships for urban planning and management – including public and private sector collaboration- in order to understand and act on green infrastructure solutions.

3. Policy lessons for the governments of South Asia to contribute to regional preparations for HABITAT III that include the following:

  • Designing cities: smart,green and sustainable

  • Planning for mobility: from private cars to public transport, from road to rail, integrated mobility solutions.

  • Construction and operation of buildings: from energy wastage to energy generation

  • Production, transportation and consumption of energy: improve the efficiency of the energy system and diversify to renewable energy sources

  • Management of urban water resources: develop eco-efficient approaches to water resources

  • Managing solid waste : turn waste from a costly burden to a resource.

  • Address patterns of exclusion: investment in people becomes the next driver of growth

  • Governance strategies:broaden the stakeholders

  • Financing cities: prepare them to invest in their future

  • Shift in : quantity to quality of growth.

Ms. Paramita Datta Dey, Senior Research Officer and Infrastructure Specialist (South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub or K-Hub) made a presentation on the activities of the K-Hub and its relevance and role to further knowledge management, with special focus on the water and sanitation sector in South Asia. It helped the team appreciate that in order to make an impact, K-Hub has to be demand driven. This meeting helped to better understand the demands of the urban sector with emphasis on South Asia. The presentations from policy makers and practitioners from Nepal, Bangaldesh and Sri Lanka provided useful information about the drivers of urban growth and prevailing governance strategies in these countries. The K-Hub team which was actively involved in organising the Policy Dialogue used this as an opportunity to widen the network by sharing information with these participants. The K-Hub, therefore generated awareness and used the forum to influence the thoughts for smarter, greener and more integrated urban solutions.