Dhaka Forum has successfully hosted the biggest high-level forum with a virtual conference centered on the most anticipated agenda of `Post COVID-19 Emergence’. The event was organized by the Leadership Council for Policy & Research (LCPR) in collaboration with a2i of the ICT Division & Cabinet Division and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNDP Bangladesh and Leadership Excellence And Development (LEAD Academy).
Dhaka Forum brought together top international thought leaders, Policymakers & Specialists from world over in a COVID-19 online conference on 8 – 9 of August 2020. The conference broadly discussed the complications from COVID-19 being seen in some wide areas & analyzed the pivotal issues of education, governance, human rights, healthcare, economy, global inclusion, climate concerns posed by the coronavirus outbreak on various parameters, drawing on examples of public and private sector responses to date and discussed solutions from their responses & suggested rapid collective emergence in every sector. The multilateral symposium was held in response to the global catastrophe of the pandemic for the much needed holistic SWOT analysis in all sectors to pave the way to reevaluate our shortcomings in such trying times creating better resolutions for the post pandemic era.
The conference hosted leading experts & policy makers from Asia, Africa, America & Europe as speakers & panelists. The 40+ speakers at the symposium included SALMAN F RAHMAN, Private Sector Industry & Investment Advisor to Prime Minister of Bangladesh, M. A. MANNAN, Planning Minister of Bangladesh; Dr. DIPU MONI, Minister of Education of Bangladesh; Dr. MURAD HASSAN, Information State Minister Bangladesh; PAULO CASACA, Founder of The South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) & Former MP of European Parliament; ROYAL MAJESTY MUEDZUL KARIM, Sultan of Sulu & North Borneo; DENISE LAMA, Advisor to the Government of Chile; CHAD BLACKMAN, Chair of Trade at World Trade Organization (WTO); AMBASSADOR DATO’ KU JAAFAR KU SHAARI, the Secretary General of the Developing 8 (D8); NAZ SHAH, Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, UK; Geoff Mulgan- ex-strategic advisor to the British Prime Minister, and many other high level representations from various UN bodies, international Vice Chancellors and numerous other leaders from Bangladesh, USA, EU, UK, Australia and other countries.
The event was inaugurated by Ashfaq Zaman, the Curator & Programme Director of Dhaka Forum & President of LCPR, laying the foundations of the DHAKA FORUM- a growing regional leadership platform. The first session started with the panel discussion on the theme of “Rebuilding Economy” followed by three other sessions on “Renewing Governance & Peace”, “Reviving Education & Intellectualism” & “Realizing Cross Border Inclusiveness”.
The second day of the event was followed on 9th August, Sunday with exciting discussion amongst experts on four distinguished panel agendas “Recycling Environment & Climate Change”, “Data Intelligence in COVID-19 Response”, “Rethinking Healthcare” & “Dhaka: Asia & Africa Focus” respectively.
On the highlights of the key High level discussions, M. A. Mannan, Planning Minister of Bangladesh mentioned that, “Our interventions need reorganizing health systems as well as supporting and amplifying the social safety net for the informal sector along with ensuring social protection with the support of the global community because this needs a dual approach. Domestically we have to regroup, reshape and recover ourselves as well we have to establish our trade links with our earlier trade partners and go into the export business immediately as early as we can.”
Mentioning digitalization as an immediate solution for COVID recovery, Salman F Rahman, MP stated that, “Digital structuring is very important for rejuvenating the economy and it’s necessary to have the proper digital infrastructure. Bangladesh has the success stories anchored by strong digital infrastructure and a readiness of supporting the private sector. Also we need to include other sectors such as education, healthcare, agriculture, administrations, even the lagging ones in terms of this digital transformation. It’s not exclusive to other sectors but we need to focus on the building blocks inclusively.”
“We were thinking about universal education by going online before and this COVID crisis has created such a huge opportunity for us to make that transition easily and the biggest barrier that was there was the mindset which we think we have crossed already confronting our present situation. Whether it’s at the primary, secondary, higher secondary or at the tertiary level, everyone is now on board with remote learning and I believe that this mode of learning & teaching is going to stay even in the post COVID situation where we will have the blended education system.”-stated by Dr. Dipu Moni, Education Minister of Bangladesh in the panel session on Reviving Education & Intellectualism.
Acknowledging the necessity of data sharing as a tool of pandemic analyzation & recovery, Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor to the a2i of ICT division of Bangladesh Government mentioned that, “We need to apply human judgment in the modeling of data intelligence and in the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Humans will also have a fairly important role to play in the data world & data has to be interoperable & there has to be some ideal standards so that the data can truly be interoperable for a rapid response in the crisis like COVID.”
Being at Dhaka Forum, Jacob Ouma, Managing Director at Admedia Communications Limited expressed in the “Dhaka: Asia & Africa Focus” panel session that, “I am really excited about Dhaka Forum particularly in this session because I look at Asia & Africa as a very critical partner continent in trade basically there’s no Africa without Asia and vice versa and it is very important to see that the forums like these are being brought out to have a south-south conversation that will look at enhancing such ties and really taking them to the next level collaborating their work to respond to a global pandemic.”. The Aisa Africa Focus was furthermore welcomed by Mohammad Maggasy, Member of Parliament from Gambia calling for more bilateral economic & social cooperation between Bangladesh & the African countries.
Focusing on women rights & women employment issues, Denise Lama Feliu- the advisor of women affairs for the government of Chile, detailed out reform plans that can effectively tackle this sensitive issue post COVID. Representations from UNDP & UN climate advisors discussed in length about the new and tricky situation of global climate & environment with necessary focus points. The UK shadow Minister for social cohesion- Naz Shah, emphasized on coming together of communities now more than ever along with the former UN ambassadors of South Africa and UNDP Country Representative- Sudipto Mukherjee.
Dhaka Forum, dubbed as the Davos of the South plans to host High level forums & symposiums regularly to address global challenges with Private-Public Cooperation engaging leaders of the International & local community to shape global, regional & industry specific agendas. Dhaka Forum is the flagship of the emerging Leadership contribution of Dhaka to the rest of the world.