The YPF Future of State 2020 Conference, hosted on February 7th and 8th, was the first of its kind in Bangladesh. It attempted to introduce a healthy mix of young professionals and students with the foundations of our state and how they have changed, asked them what the key challenges of today faced in different areas by the nation were according to them and gave them a space to brainstorm and offer solutions to a panel of experts, researchers and politicians and finally closed with a summary of the titular Future of the State according to the panel.
The conference opened with a keynote address about the theme “Equality of Opportunities” by renowned economist Dr. Akhtar Mahmood who spoke to the audience through a webinar software from abroad. The next session was the Foundations of our State panel led by famous researcher and writer Afsan Chowdhury and political scientist Dr. Rounaq Jahan who spoke of the past and drew wonderful insights that the participants would find useful when dealing with the issues of the present. With that the conference broke for lunch.
The conference resumed with the Policy Labs- a selection of seven working groups that would brainstorm the challenges of today. The labs were “Education”, “Rule of Law and Justice”, “Healthcare”, “Economic Opportunities and Jobs”, “Security and Diplomacy”, “Infrastructure and Environment” and finally “Democratic Rights, Accountability and Access to Information” and each of them had one moderator and a few experts. At the end of the brainstorming session, two members of each lab presented to a panel of young politicians from different backgrounds. The first day of the conference then ended with impassioned speeches from each of them.
The second day began with an inspiring session of young reformers who spoke of their great work in different fields including technology, sports, law and justice, etc. During the “Mentor-Mentee” lunch, students and young professionals were connected to experts in their respective fields so that they could connect and benefit from valuable advice. After this, the policy labs met again, this time to come up with concrete policy solutions which they presented to a panel that comprised of Professor Lailufar Yasmin from the International Relations Department of the University of Dhaka, noted politician and teacher Bobby Hajjaj, veteran politician Khandaker Abdul Muktadir, honorable member of the parliament Ahsan Adelur Rahman and living legend Dr. Rehman Sobhan. The conference ended with the address of the chief guest, Dr. Rehman Sobhan, founder of CPD.