Dubai, 11 February 2022 – The City We Need Now! Middle East Campaign this week called for urgent action to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Led by the Middle East Cities Center (MECC), the launch event attracted about 300 regional participants from the private sector, civil society, educational bodies, youth groups and the media.

The City We Need Now! is an advocacy campaign led by UN-Habitat and the 200 partner organizations of the World Urban Campaign. In 2022, the campaign is calling for urgent action to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Europe and the CIS, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America.

The City We Need Now! campaign engages local and regional governments, civil society and grass roots organisations, urban professionals, researchers and academics, youth and women groups, the media and other non-governmental partners to review the priorities of the New Urban Agenda to accelerate a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery towards the city we need. The Middle East region is the first to engage in the The City We Need Now!. It will be followed by Africa, to be launched on 15 February.

“Acceleration is our key word in this campaign,” UN-Habitat Regional Director for the Arab States Erfan Ali said in his opening remarks. “We have no time to lose in making cities more liveable, more sustainable, greener, healthier, safer and affordable, leaving no place and no one behind.”

Dr. Mahmoud AlBurai, MECC director in Dubai called upon everyone to join The City We Need Now! movement and thanked all. He also announced upcoming campaign activities such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Disclosure events for CEOs, Dubai Expo Events, Young City Changers events, the Model COP28 for school students, community engagement events on the ground, the upcoming launch of the SDG Academy and the Urban Journalism Academy.

Dr. Sabrina Joseph, Chief Academic Officer at the American University of Dubai, emphasised the role of quality education to achieve sustainable cities and communities by championing inclusivity. Ishrat Siddiqui, Managing Director of the Middle East Model United Nations, explained the Model COP28 programme towards the 2023 Climate Change Conference for 75,000 school students in the United Arab Emirates.

Dr. Sameh Wahba, Global Director of Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Practice at the World Bank, made a case for recovery and accelerating green, inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities. Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities reminded that cities across the world deliver science-based climate action through effective leadership from rich to poorer countries.

Director of Climate Actions and Sustainable Technologies at SAP, Pedro Pereiera, explained that “the name of the game for The City We Need Now! is to start making sustainability profitable and profitability sustainable without sacrificing each other.” It is essential to “bring profit and planet together,” adding that it is the responsibility of all companies to create low carbon solutions in order to drive green markets.

Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Managing Director of Goumbook, explained how her company engages communities in Dubai in driving the sustainability agenda through awareness and action events such as workshops, markets, talks and community service.

Dr. Tariq Nizami, Founder of the CEO Clubs Network, a global networks of CEOs with a large base in the Middle East, described the commitments of business leaders to The City We Need Now! supporting the 10 actions areas defined by the World Urban Campaign. Dr. Wesam Al Madhoun, CEO of Global Ambassadors of Sustainability also presented the Middle East SDG Academy to spearhead sustainability education in the region.

Ms. Susan Greenfield, World President Elect at the International Federation of Real Estate (FIABCI) emphasised the need to strengthen urban sustainability in real estate practices through certification and design techniques for developers and property managers.  

Ms. Ayat Amr, Youth Ambassador for Jordan at the United Nations,  a social media influencer, and a former child refugee from Palestine who became a robotic engineer and received several international recognitions, the city we need should be “a place where youth can dream big, a place of opportunities and open to change.”

Mohammed Basil Al Madani, Founder and CEO of Entrepioneers 2030 Platform, joined the event from Syria to explain his lead role in engaging the youth in The City We Need Now! campaign across the region. Sara Al Ameri also presented the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change, aimed to equip youth with environmental knowledge.

Mirna Mounzer, TV Presenter & Media Entrepreneur, emphasised the role of  the media in driving the sustainability agenda by communicating  the meaning of sustainability for future cities. She announced the Urban Journalism Academy for the Middle East will be launched in March, in partnership with CNN, with the aim of increasing the capacity of journalists and social media influencers in urban news related to the sustainability agenda.

To end the session, Adrienne Doolan, CEO of Green Touches Echoes of Sustainability, invited everyone to Expo 2020 Dubai for an event on Co-Creating the Future where SDGs for The City We Need will be discussed on 17 February (registration link).

The event was broadcasted on Facebook live and recorded, available for replay at: