From left to right: Ms. Anne Odic, Head of Local Authorities and Urban Development Division, Agence Française de Développement; H.E. Mr. Mohamed Salah Arfaoui, Minister of Equipment, Housing and Territorial Development, Tunisia; Amb. Ihab Fahmy, Deputy Secretary General, UfM Secretariat; Mr. Jan Vapaavuori, Vice-President, European Investment Bank; H.E. Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Deputy Minister for Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, Egypt.
Quito, 18 October 2016 - On the fringes of the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), in cooperation with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and European Investment Bank (EIB), organised the “Union for the Mediterranean – Urban Project Finance Initiative (UPFI): Towards a New Urban Agenda for the Mediterranean region” networking event in Quito on 18 October 2016.
The UfM-UPFI networking event brought together more than 100 participants, including several ministers from UfM Member States, representatives from international and regional organisations and IFIs, key urban development actors in the Mediterranean and partners involved in UPFI initiative, as well as potential partners, in order to develop future regional programmes and projects, with a view to addressing the region’s demographic and environmental challenges.
The networking event was a timely opportunity to take stock of UPFI’s success story, which was one of the main deliverables of the First UfM Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Urban Development, held in Strasbourg in 2011.
It also raised awareness of the added value of the UPFI initiative and its related UfM-labelled projects. In addition, it provided an opportunity to discuss the best tools for implementing a “New Urban Agenda for the Mediterranean region”, ahead of the Second UfM Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Urban Development, which is to be held in Egypt in spring 2017, and in consideration of major regional and international milestones in that regard.
UPFI is an innovative initiative funded by the European Commission and jointly managed by the AFD and EIB, under the auspices of the UfM. It is aimed at identifying and selecting flagship sustainable urban development projects likely to be politically endorsed (labelled) by the UfM Member States and financed and implemented in the short term.
Keynote speakers at the UfM-UPFI networking event included, among others, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Salah Arfaoui, Tunisia’s Minister of Equipment, Housing and Territorial Development; H.E. Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Egypt’s Deputy Minister for Housing, Utilities and Urban Development; Mr. Jan Vapaavuori, EIB Vice-President; and Ambassador Ihab Fahmy, UfM Deputy Secretary General. All agreed that, in view of the increasing magnitude of the common challenges in the Mediterranean, the event was a timely opportunity to develop and strengthen synergies and complementarities amongst key stakeholders and to assess the perspectives for working together in the years to come.
EIB Vice-President Mr. Jan Vapaavuori said that “the Union for the Mediterranean provides a strong political momentum for the visibility of the Urban Project Finance Initiative drawing on its relationships with the Mediterranean countries and by labelling projects to confirm their quality. The EIB is involved in several key projects in the region and is aiming to appraise and finance them in 2017.”
UfM Deputy Secretary General Ihab Fahmy said that “it is high time for common responses to the pressing challenges facing urban areas in the Mediterranean region, following a holistic approach that ensures urban sustainability and a greater socio-economic impact on the ground, through effective and concrete action towards a better future for the Mediterranean region.”
The Habitat III Conference was an historic opportunity to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanisation and to focus on the implementation of a New Urban Agenda. It was the first time in 20 years that the international community, led by national governments, took collective stock of fast-changing urban trends and the ways in which these patterns are impacting human development, environmental well-being and governance systems worldwide. The conference resulted in an action-oriented outcome document, the New Urban Agenda, which will lay the groundwork for policies and approaches and will guide urbanisation efforts for the next 20 years.