Rethinking Urban Development in Pakistan: A Green Vision for Sustainable Cities

Islamabad: The Green Urban Development Program (GUD), a two-year initiative, by Institute of Urbanism (IoU) & School of Leadership Foundation (SoLF), with the support of the US Embassy, organized the impactful event titled “Rethinking Urban Development: A Dialogue on Green Urban Development in Pakistan” in Islamabad. The dialogue served as a platform for stakeholders, experts, and leaders to come together, exchange insights, and explore innovative solutions to the pressing challenges of sustainable urban development in Pakistan, fostering a collaborative environment aimed at reshaping the urban landscape for a greener and more sustainable future.

Kelly Rayan, representing the US Embassy Islamabad, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Institute of Urbanism (IoU) and the School of Leadership Foundation (SoLF) for their commendable efforts in organizing the dialogue. He also acknowledged the participation of QAU (Quaid-i-Azam University) in the event, underscoring the importance of a collaborative approach in addressing urban development challenges. Emphasizing the gravity of climate change as a pressing issue, Kelly Rayan called for collective action and actionable solutions to be produced during the event. He stressed the need to collaborate closely with both government entities and the public to find sustainable solutions, aligning with the urgent call to address climate change. Kelly Rayan’s remarks resonated with the event’s commitment to fostering partnerships and discovering pathways towards a more sustainable future while acknowledging the valuable contributions of institutions like De Paul University of Chicago.

Malik Amin Aslam, Former Minister of State for Environment, in a notable address, underscored the critical role of urban development within the broader context of climate change, emphasizing that it constitutes a significant component of this global challenge. He stressed that addressing urban development issues transcends the responsibilities of just the federal government; it is equally vital for local governments to engage actively in the effort. Malik Amin Aslam highlighted various steps and initiatives undertaken by the government in this regard.

Ms. Hiba Zakai, representing De Paul University in Chicago, delivered a compelling message on the significance of cross-learning and collaborative partnerships. She highlighted the transformative power of knowledge that transcends geographical boundaries. Ms. Zakai emphasized the importance of forging connections and alliances with institutions like De Paul University for the Green Urban Development School (GUDS). Her words underscored the notion that when it comes to addressing global challenges like sustainable urban development, the exchange of ideas and expertise knows no borders, fostering a brighter and more sustainable future for all.

Ayesha Majid, Senior Program Coordinator at IoU, presented findings from a research report on the environmental footprint of cities in Pakistan, shedding light on the challenges of urbanization, including issues related to water, solid waste, and infrastructure. She emphasized the need for comprehensive urban development policies and accurate data to address these challenges effectively.

Mariyum Irfan, Managing Director at SoLF, extended her gratitude to all the distinguished guests at the dialogue. GUD, a two-years initiative running from October 2022 to September 2024, is dedicated to promoting sustainable urban development through capacity enhancement and partnerships among policymakers, the public sector, youth, and academia. GUD focuses on critical themes such as water conservation, green infrastructure, and waste management.

The fishbowl session, moderated by Omer Khalid Butt and featuring panelists Farzana Altaf Director General at Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, Sardar Khan Zimri Director General of Water Management at Capital Development Authority, Dr. Hifza Rasheed Secretary at Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources, Mehrunisa Malik Co-Founder at Saaf Suthra Sheher Pvt. Ltd, and Asad Mehmood a Consultant for Green Infrastructure, explored urban development trends and policies in Pakistan. The experts highlighted the critical role of water conservation and stressed the importance of educating children about the value of natural resources. They emphasized collaboration with government resources for sustainable urban development.

The Rethinking Urban Development event in Islamabad showcased exciting insights and discussions on key topics such as waste management, water conservation, and innovative building and infrastructure solutions, shaping the future of urban development in Pakistan. The dialogue brought together experts and stakeholders to discuss sustainable solutions for climate change and urban development challenges in Pakistan.

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