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Building Anew or Retrofitting? Fresh Thinking for Fast-Growing Cities

The event will also be webcast live from this page. Registration is NOT required to view the webcast. Online audience can submit questions to [email protected].

Many cities in developing countries face a common challenge: how should they plan for and accommodate rapid growth in ways that boost prosperity, expand opportunity, and strengthen resiliency and sustainability? To meet this challenge, cities must consider different growth management strategies and weigh economic, political, technical, and social considerations. Dhaka, Bangladesh, epitomizes the urban challenge facing fast-growing cities in poor countries.

A recent report from the World Bank, Toward Great Dhaka, proposes a strategic vision for productively managing growth in Dhaka by seizing a unique opportunity. The report details how to frame the challenge, model economic dynamics spatially, consider alternative scenarios, and identify a promising path forward. It suggests that their “more radical approach” can “put Dhaka on a better urban development trajectory, one that can transform it into a truly great global city in just a few decades.”

What is this radical approach? How will it fare in Bangladesh? How relevant are the idea and the analytical method to other cities facing similar challenges? Using this report and its approach as a starting point, this panel will consider the challenges of rapid urbanization, ways that cities can respond, and practical lessons and considerations for cities and their partners.



  • Indermit Gill, Professor of Practice of Public Policy, Duke Center for International Development, Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University
  • Yue Li, Senior Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank
  • Ammar Malik, Associate Director of Research, Evidence for Policy Design, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Martin Rama, Former Chief Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank
  • Charles Cadwell, Vice President, Center on International Development and Governance, Urban Institute (moderator)



Check-in and breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m., and the program will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. Send any inquiries regarding this event to [email protected].

Support for this event is provided by the World Bank. For more information on the Urban Institute’s funding principles, go to

Date & Time Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Urban Institute 2100 M Street NW
5th floor
Washington , DC , 20037
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  • Institute Fellow