First Arab Ministerial Forum for Housing and Urban Development launched in Cairo2Cairo, 21 December 2015 –The first Arab Ministerial Forum for Housing and Urban Development (AMFHUD) which was launched yesterday has brought together 15 high level ministerial delegations, representatives of national and regional organisations, private sector as well as civil society from the region. The forum is organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, the League of Arab States and UN-Habitat.

In his initial remarks, the Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, Mr. Mostafa Madbouly, stressed the importance of this first forum as a step towards achieving sustainable development aiming at elaborating mechanisms to address current and future urban challenges and opportunities in the Arab region, taking into account economic, social and environmental dimensions. AMFHUD targets to promote awareness, exchange valuable experiences across Arab States, present best practices and advocate regional cooperation. It will also inform the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular goal 11 to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Speaking at the opening session, Chair of the AMFHUD Committee and Head of Housing Department, Egypt, Ms Nafisa Hashem, thanked UN-Habitat for initiating the ministerial forum on housing and urban development in the Arab region. Recognising the participation of representatives from across the Arab region, she concluded that “we hope that this forum will encourage further cooperation in the region and that the recommendations will offer new ideas for the future“.

Director of Programme Division, UN-Habitat, Mr Alioune Badiane, emphasised that we have to make sure no one is left behind in order to achieve a sustainable urban development. In order to succeed in this challenging task, cities and national governments need to work together to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and create the New Urban Agenda. During AMFHUD we willaddress these challenges, but also celebrate the achievements in the Arab region so far. Mr. Badiane promised that “UN-Habitat is fully engaged in the region and will remain as long as the work of UN-Habitat is needed.”

First Arab Ministerial Forum for Housing and Urban Development launched in CairoExecutive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos stressed on the importance of the historical moment that urbanization is going through. For the first time in the history of development, urbanization is a tool for development and a source of wealth, social equity and environmental sustainability. The discussions for the New Urban Agenda will assess both the last twenty years of urbanization and elaborate a new framework for the next 20 years. “There is an urgent need to moving from spontaneous urbanisation to well-planned urbanization” Dr. Clos said. The key issue is how we can advocate for an urbanisation process that delivers the good and avoids the ailments often connected with urbanisation, optimising the resources. UN Habitat advocates for a new paradigm that integrates rules and regulations, urban planning and design and a municipal financing system.