National Urban Policy: Arab States Report
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National Urban Policy: Arab States Report

UN-Habitat defines a National Urban Policy as “a coherent set of decisions derived through a deliberate government-led process of coordinating and rallying various actors for a common vision and goal that will promote more transformative, productive, inclusive and resilient urban development for the long term” (UN-Habitat, 2014a). A National Urban Policy, therefore, can define the strategic objectives, policies and priorities for action needed to promote sustainable urbanization and urban resilience. The thematic components of sustainability and resilience are multidimensional and include an important spatial dimension.

The use of strategic spatial plans at different territorial scales has been a long-standing European tradition reinforced by the landmark European Union guiding policy framework European Spatial Development Perspective and its subsequent updates. However, in the Arab states, as in many developing countries, there has often been a lack of clarity between the national policy frameworks that provide development strategies at the national and regional scales and master plans that are primarily urban infrastructure investment frameworks and landuse regulatory instruments.

The significance of a National Urban Policy is to provide a coherent framework integrating growth potential with policies promoting equity, inclusion, and resilience. It enables coordination across sectors and among actors involved at the different levels of governance, in the private sector and within civil society.

The focus of this report is, therefore, to review the state of national urban policies in the states of the Arab region against this standard. It identifies the legal and governmental articulation of the national urban policies, the main actors involved, how their objectives and priorities address the challenges of urbanization, and what achievements have been accomplished in this regard. It also considers aspects of the policy cycle, looking at the means of formulation, implementation and evaluation of national urban policies put in place. Finally, it tries to identify the factors affecting longer-term trends in national urban policies in the countries reviewed.