Barcelona, 24 March 2022 – The UfM Working Group on Evaluation, Monitoring & Reporting Systems on Sustainable Urban Development convened its 4th meeting on 24 March 2022 online to highlight the importance of having available data for evidence-based urban policies.
As a follow-up to previous discussions, main challenges and advancements in the implementation of the United Nations Statistical Commission methodology for delineation of cities and urban and rural areas for international and regional statistical comparison purposes, Degree of Urbanization (DGURBA) were presented, showcasing also the experience of Lebanon in applying it. The meeting was also an occasion to start discussing urban health and how UfM Member States could address urban health-related indicators.
The meeting was co-chaired by the UfM Co-Presidency, represented by Wallis Vandebrock-Goelen, European Commission’s DG REGIO and by Jomana Attyat, Director General of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation in Jordan, and hosted by Erdal Sabri Ergen, UfM Deputy Secretary General for Transport and Urban Development and Victoria Jimenez, UfM Head of Sector for Urban Development. It included presentations by Thomas Kemper of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, Ziad Abdallah, Statistician Head of IT Department, Central Administration of Statistics, Lebanon and Mark Nieuwenhuijsen of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
As stated by UfM Deputy Secretary General Ergen during his opening remarks, this working group promotes the definition of cities, proposed by a consortium of international organisations led by the EU, and endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission. The adoption of this definition by UfM countries for statistical and monitoring purposes will enable comparisons and accurate monitoring of SDGs within the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Following the training organized by the UfM in 2021, Thomas Kemper, from the European Commission’s Joint Research Center, presented an update on the capacity building activities conducted during the past year and of the current resources available to implement the DEGURBA, which include a whole range of guides, recorded training sessions and online courses. Thomas highlighted also the availability of the JRC to support countries on a bilateral basis.
Ziad Abdallah, Statistician Head of IT Department, Central Administration of Statistics, presented the results of applying the DEGURBA to Lebanon and explained the main challenges experienced during the process. The Joint Research Centre is also in contact with Tunisia and Egypt and hopes to extend its collaboration to other UfM member states in the near future.
The working group explores the feasibility of opening a new path in advancing in the implementation of jointly-agreed health-related GIS indicators with the support of ISGlobal and the WHO. In this regard, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, ISGlobal, discussed the scientific evidence on the impacts of urban and transport planning on health and presented examples of what has been done with European cities. This work could be extended beyond Europe to develop health-related urban indicators and consequent policies, also for cities in the Mediterranean region.
In closing, Wallis Vandebrock-Goelen, European Commission’s DG REGIO noted that the second Quadrennial report on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda to be presented in the UN High-Level Meeting which will be held in New York on 28 April 2022, refers to the UfM work on urban development. It states: “Regional platforms have proved to be key to sharing resources and building capacity. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) regional platform, which is co-chaired by the European Commission, initiated a dialogue among its 42 member States on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda that produced the UfM Strategic Urban Development Action Plan 2040, accompanied by a dedicated plan on affordable and sustainable housing”.
The meeting, which contributed to the implementation of the UfM Strategic Urban Development Action Plan 2040, brought together national coordinators and focal points for urban development indicators from technical line ministries and experts from National Statistical Offices of UfM Member States.
The UfM Urban Agenda aims to support the creation of more resilient and inclusive cities in the Mediterranean region, with a focus on reducing inequalities and contributing to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The UfM Strategic Urban Development Action Plan 2040, adopted by UfM Senior Officials in July 2021, establishes a common vision to tackling urban challenges in the region. It is the result of a three-year collaboration between the European Commission and all 42 UfM Member States, aiming to improve the quality of life for all citizens by building better, more inclusive, climate-resilient communities. The Plan promotes science-led, evidence-based, inclusive and integrated planning, investment and implementation of urban projects, with coordination at the local, national and regional governance levels. It involves cooperation between national and local authorities, intergovernmental organisations, international financial institutions and other stakeholders.