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Speakers at a conference in Dhaka on Monday said establishing peace, justice, and strong institutions is crucial in order to achieve equality across and inside borders.

The daylong conference on 'In-Gov' was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with an aim to achieving Sustainable Development Goal-16.

The event ended with closing remarks by Sudipto Mukerjee, resident representative, UNDP Bangladesh who emphasised the nexus between integration and innovation to achieve inclusive growth.

His remarks were followed by a discussion among Mia Seppo, United Nations resident coordinator in Bangladesh, law minister Anisul Huq, Gowher Rizvi, international affairs advisor to the prime minister, Rensje Teerink, ambassador and head of delegation, European Union and Naoki Ito, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Japan to Bangladesh who discussed the way forward for Bangladesh with an emphasis on inclusive governance.

The conference focused on governance for a peaceful, just and inclusive society, where Sarder M Asaduzzaman, senior project manager of UNDP’s activating village courts in Bangladesh project presented the keynote paper, according to UNDP.

“We must ensure that all development plans remain non-discriminatory, and put the youth at the centre of planning,” he said in his presentation.

During the panel discussion on promoting participatory governance, Shoko Ishikawa, country representative of UN women, said social barriers are a fundamental issue. "We must promote accountability and get out of this culture of impunity. We want women and the youth to thrive, but we must create a conducive environment for them.”

Selima Ahmed, MP, and president of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they identified three major challenges to women’s participation in business – access to finance, capacity, and social barriers. "We realised the ultimate challenge were social barriers.”

“To overcome such challenges, merely inclusion is not enough, there must be integration and collaboration to ensure sustainable development,” she added.

Sultana Afroz, Additional Secretary of Finance Ministry, also Wing Chief (UN), and Mejbahuddin, former Senior Secretary, also spoke at the session moderated by Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at University of Dhaka and director of genocide studies centre, University of Dhaka.

Panelists at a session titled “Building future for and by the youth,” stressed on the need for effective collaboration between stakeholders and youth organisations to reach the common goal of youth leadership and empowerment.

Moderated by Nahim Razzaq, MP, the panel included Hyungue Joe, country director of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA); Aftab Ahmed, additional secretary of youth and sports ministry, Tina Jabeen, investment advisor at ICT ministry’s Startup Bangladesh, and Osama Bin Noor, founder of Youth Opportunities.

The discussion followed a presentation on UNDP’s plethora of youth engagement activities by Palki Ahmed, programme coordination expert at UNDP.
It is impossible to improve governance without harnessing the power of data, digitisation, and technology.

At the third panel, discussants Mohammad Nassis Bin Suleiman, regional country head of Islamic Development Bank in Bangladesh; Ahsan Adelur Rahman, MP; Osama Taseer, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Imtiaz Ahmed, director of genocide studies centre, University of Dhaka, and Md Tajul Islam, director general of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics emphasised the need for closing the data gap by utilising technology during collection and analysis.

The private and public sectors must work together to this end, added the speakers.
Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor of a2i, delivered a presentation on Innovation for Inclusive Governance in Bangladesh, where he explained multiple innovative ways, such as social media, activism, of improving service delivery.

The panel discussion included Manmohan Parkash, country director, Asian Development Bank, Judith Herbertson, country representative, DFID, and Shamsul Alam, senior secretary, General Economics Division (GED).

Judith Herbertson mentioned that governance is at the centre of everything and it is the key to unlock durable solutions, channel inclusive growth and develop mitigation and adaptation strategies to combat the pressing climate change. She reiterated the importance of governance as a driver of change.

Manmohan Parkash, country director, Asian Development Bank, shared his insight on the need for innovation to be embedded in all development practices.

“Inclusivity and innovation go hand in hand,” he said, emphasising how innovation may be used as a tool for achieving inclusivity across all spheres.

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