Barcelona, 9 June 2015. Today, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is holding the Urban Projects Finance Initiative (UPFI) Workshop at its headquarters in Palau de Pedralbes, Barcelona.
This one-day workshop, which brings together for the first time all actors involved in the UPFI process – namely project promoters, financial partners and consultant teams –, marks the start of the UPFI’s second phase.
The purpose of the UPFI is to identify and select sustainable and innovative urban development projects that offer bottom-up, regionally replicable solutions to the major urban development challenges facing the region.
Phase one of the initiative involved selecting the projects and defining the Technical Assistance needed. The second phase will focus on implementing the identified Technical Assistance, with a view to ensuring the projects’ bankability by international finance institutions.
Today’s workshop brings together major urban planning players, such as Laila Iskandar, the Minister for Urban Renewal and Informal Areas of Egypt; Anis Ghdira, the Secretary of State for Housing of the Government of Tunisia; and Mohammed Jalayta, the Mayor of Jericho (Palestine). Among the 60 participants, there were representatives of 15 UPFI projects from six countries, namely: Bouregreg-Rabat Salé, Tétouan, Ben Guerir and Agadir (Morocco); Gabès, Sfax-Taparura and Médinas (Tunisia); Imbaba-Giza and Esna (Egypt); Nablus, Bethlehem and Jericho (Palestine); Lod (Israel); and the II Project of local and regional development (Jordan).
“The UfM Secretariat plays the role of ‘trusted third party’ among different countries for exchanging information, ensuring project implementation and helping cooperation logics to prevail. This is what makes each partner’s action more efficient and visible,” said Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi during the workshop. “The Urban Projects Finance Initiative can be an example for other fields in which regional cooperation represents a real added value,” added Sijilmassi.
The UPFI is one of the pillars of the Euro-Mediterranean Sustainable Urban Development Strategy, as stated in the declaration of the First Ministerial Conference of the UfM on Sustainable Urban Development, held in Strasbourg on 10 November 2011. The initiative was launched during the Senior Officials Meeting on 7 April 2014, and was endorsed by the representatives of the 43 UfM member countries. The UfM has already been labelled three projects under the framework of this initiative: the Imbaba urban upgrading project, the Sfax-Taparura project and the Bouregreg Valley development.
Under the umbrella of the UfM Secretariat, the UPFI is managed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), with the support of the European Commission. The KfW Development Bank, the Caisse des Dépôts (CDC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Finnish Cooperation are closely associated, while other IFIs and investors have expressed their interest.
This workshop, which gathers together all relevant Euro-Mediterranean institutions and stakeholders operating in the field of sustainable urban development, illustrates the UfM Secretariat’s role as an operational platform to foster coordination efforts, by drawing on the synergies with and between institutions, stakeholders, cooperation schemes and donors.
This project’s main objective is to strengthen the integration of Imbaba – one of Egypt’s most populated and unplanned urban areas – with the city of Cairo by providing its 700,000 inhabitants with the basic facilities, infrastructure and services which are currently lacking.
Sfax is a coastal city on the Mediterranean. It is the second biggest city in Tunisia and the most important industrial and commercial centre in the south of the country. As a phosphate industry site, it has suffered from significant pollution which has hampered its development. After the depollution of the northern coast of the city, the project plans to rehabilitate its beaches and create 420 hectares of land to extend the metropolitan area.
Bouregreg Valley Development
The project aims to develop new neighbourhoods for professional and residential use (to achieve social diversity), as well as public amenities and spaces. It will preserve cultivated land, create natural ecological spaces, undertake reforestation actions and restore water courses at risk of gully erosion and landslides. It will also promote integrated development to meet the area’s present and future needs, including landmark facilities that benefit the entire metropolitan, such as a hospital and the rehabilitation of Chellah.