State of Arab Cities Report 2020: Financing Sustainable Urban Development in the Arab Region (Executive Summary)

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The previous and first State of Arab Cities Report in 2012 was a groundwork publication that mapped the broad facts and trends of urbanisation in the region, as well as the historic background to the Arab region’s significant urban heritage. However, the world has changed even in the relatively short period since 2012, in some startling ways that are especially challenging to many countries contained in this report.

In its second edition, The State of Arab Cities report 2020 is driven by a sense of urgency around the headlong expansion of urbanization, in an area where more than two-thirds of the population will reside in cities by the middle of this century. In 1950, just two cities of the region had a million people, whereas by 2025 this is expected to reach 31. At a time whereas many Arab countries are undergoing major infrastructure initiatives and the proliferation of new cities, it is particularly useful to examine the role played by urban infrastructure in shaping the region as a whole and influencing its urban future.

The State of Arab Cities report 2020 argues that infrastructure answers two immediate and long-term needs. Firstly, the smart reordering of decentralised municipal finances to build, maintain, and retrofit infrastructure is one of the most narrowly pragmatic and achievable interventions possible for governments and municipalities, with some highly effective small and large-scale examples from across the spectrum of the Arab region.

Secondly, the report suggests that in a region of 22 countries often beset by social tension, exclusion, poverty, and conflict, the planning and implementation of infrastructure augments peacebuilding, stabilization, and legitimacy and inclusion, as citizens participate in shaping the environment of their cities. Infrastructure, as this report argues, can either be a vehicle for political and social exclusion that cements narrow conceptions of the city, or the engine for political and social inclusivity so vital for the region’s women and young people, as well as groups like persons with disabilities, migrant workers, and minority religious and ethnic groups whose human capital and contribution are often wasted through marginalization.

Migration and Inclusive Cities: A Guide for Arab City Leaders

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Migration, especially forced migration, is one of the defining phenomena of the 21st century. Millions of people across the global have fled armed conflicts, persecutions, natural disasters, and/or economic hardships in recent years. Whether they crossed national borders or stayed within the geographic limits of the country in which they originally resided, their ultimate movement has mostly been towards cities. It is impossible to stop the influx of migrants into urban areas in the foreseeable future. People will continue to move towards cities in search for livelihood opportunities, security, and a decent life. Unfortunately, due to lack of planning and resources, many end up in overcrowded and underserved settlements or in remote urban areas that lack basic infrastructure, social services and connectivity to labour markets. Denied access to formal job opportunities and social protection systems and excluded from the urban advantages that they are seeking in cities, migrants, particularly the most vulnerable ones, are often stigmatized as a problem rather than recognized for their energy and potential contribution to urban life.

Publication Year
2018
Publisher
UN-Habitat
Number of Pages
64 pages
HS Number
HS/039/18E

National Urban Policy: Arab States Report

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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.

Publication Year
2017
Publisher
UN-Habitat
Number of Pages
96 pages
HS Number
HS/025/17E

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