Abu Dhabi, 11 February 2020 — The UN-Habitat Regional Office of Arab States, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT) and UN Development Programme launched the Executive Summary of the ‘State of Arab Cities Report 2020: Financing Sustainable Urban Development in the Arab Region’ on the sidelines of the ongoing Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.
Urban decision-makers from various backgrounds and experts from the Arab region as well as other UN agencies and international organizations presented their views during the discussion. A photo exhibition was also organized at the forum, following the call for best photos launched by the partners of the report to encourage young photographers from the region to capture the spirit of Arab cities.
The report demonstrates through concrete evidence and in-depth analysis, the primacy of innovative sub-national financial instruments and significant urban infrastructure investments to help forge inclusive, prosperous and resilient urban settlements. The report argues that well-managed urbanization can serve as the engine of sustainable development.
With only ten years to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the new report advocates for embracing a holistic approach to urban infrastructure planning and provision, alongside efficient institutions and adequate financial resources, that can help to catalyze positive societal changes in Arab cities.
Presenting the report, Mr. Erfan Ali, UN-Habitat Director of Regional Office for Arab States said, “As an increasingly large proportion of the Arab region’s population lives in cities, it is imperative to shift urban infrastructure towards people-centered planning and viable financing to achieve sustainability and resilience. Well-resources and capacitated municipalities are central to achieve the mounting needs of urban communities. Financing urban infrastructure foster equal opportunities for all, including those furthest behind.”
Derasat Center’s Chairman, Mr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, said, “Launching the executive summary for the State of Arab Cities 2020 report emphasizes the growing productive partnership between Derasat Center and UN agencies, especially UN Habitat and UNDP, to contribute to the fulfilment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in light of the international trust in the Center’s work and performance, and its highly professional standards, the outputs of which are thoughtful and of international standards.
The Chairman described the joint team of local and global experts as having formed “a unique community of study and practice, where competencies and expertise were merged through data gathering and deep analysis of developments and overall policies, as well as defining obstacles and present challenges; to produce a scientific and objective report that reflects reality in a transparent and neutral way, presenting accurate international indicators.”
Dr. Shaikh Abdulla also highlighted the importance of the initiative to form the Arab Governance Observatory in fulfilling local prosperity, dually benefitting experts and citizens, by providing statistical and analytical evidence that enables scientifically backed decision making, while enriching proper documentation efforts that the Arab region lacks.”
Mr. Haoliang Xu, the Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support stated, “We must recognize that cities are at the forefront of solutions to climate actions. In the next 30 years, an estimated USD 90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure globally, with most of it in urban settings. We have a unique opportunity to shape these investments to ensure a transition towards low-carbon, resource-efficient, climate and disaster resilient and socially just cities where people can live healthy lives.”
The UN Resident Coordinator in Bahrain Mr Amin EL Sharkawi mentioned that “When considering priorities in addressing the challenges of sustainable development – be it climate change or energy and economic diversification - it’s difficult to imagine a better place to start than with cities”. He added that the State of Arab Cities Report 2020 represents a unique collaboration, bringing together top experts from a range of UN agencies – from UN offices in Manama, Cairo and Nairobi, and elsewhere around the globe as well expertise from DERASAT in Bahrain.