From left to right: Ms. Anne Odic, Head of Local Authorities and Urban Development Division, Agence Française de Développement; H.E. Mr. Mohammed Salah Arfaoui, Minister of Equipment, Housing and Territorial Development, Republic of Tunisia; Amb. Ihab Fahmy, Deputy Secretary General, UfM Secretariat; Mr. Jan Vapaavuori, Vice-President, European Investment Bank; H.E. Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Vice Minister for Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, Arab Republic of Egypt.
Quito, 18 October 2016 – On the margin of the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), the Union for the Mediterranean organized in Quito on 18 October 2016 in cooperation with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) the Networking Event “Union for the Mediterranean – Urban Projects Finance Initiative (UPFI): Towards a New Urban Agenda for the Mediterranean region”.
The UfM-UPFI Networking Event has brought together more than 100 participants, including several Ministers from UfM Member States, international and regional organisations and IFIs leaders, key urban development actors in the Mediterranean and the 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 represented a good occasion 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 in Strasbourg in 2011.
It also raised awareness about the added value of the UPFI initiative and its related UfM-labelled projects. In addition, it provided an opportunity to discuss the best tools to implement a “New Urban Agenda for the Mediterranean region”, in view of the Second UfM Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Urban Development to be held in Egypt in the Spring of 2017, and taking into consideration major regional and international related milestones.
UPFI is an innovative initiative funded by the European Commission and co-managed by 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 including, among others, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Salah Arfaoui, Minister of Equipment, Housing and Territorial Development of the Republic of Tunisia; H.E. Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Vice Minister for Housing, Utilities and Urban Development of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Mr. Jan Vapaavuori, EIB Vice-President; and Amb. Ihab Fahmy, UfM Deputy Secretary General, 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 complementarity amongst key stakeholders, and assess the perspectives for working all together in the years to come.
EIB Vice-President Mr. Jan Vapaavuori highlighted “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 labeling 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 Amb. Ihab Fahmy stressed “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 an 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 urbanization, 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, collectively took stock of fast-changing urban trends and the ways in which these patterns are impacting on 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 guide urbanization efforts for the next 20 years.
The Union for the Mediterranean: an action-driven organisation with a common ambition
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is the intergovernmental organisation bringing together 43 countries: 28 EU members and 15 Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries. It provides a unique forum to enhance regional cooperation, dialogue and implementation of projects and initiatives with tangible impact on our citizens, mainly our youth, in order to address the three interrelated priorities of the Euro-Mediterranean region: stability, human development and integration.
The Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean, established in Barcelona in 2010, is the platform to operationalise decisions taken by the Member States, implementing strategic regional projects through a specific methodology based on dynamic multi-partner networks and the exchange of best practices and innovative methodologies: more than 45 regional projects labelled by the Member States, mainly in the areas of sustainable and inclusive growth, youth employability, women’s empowerment, student mobility, integrated urban development, and climate action.
UN-Habitat is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. UN-Habitat is the focal point for the monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the Habitat Agenda, as well as the task manager of the human settlements chapter of Agenda 21 and in collaboration with governments is responsible for promoting and consolidating collaboration with all partners, including local authorities and private and non-governmental organisations, in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.