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Urban Development and Territorial Cohesion

Status: Completed
  • Countries Targeted

    Countries of Southern and Northern Mediterranean.



    The Center for Mediterranean Integration in partnership with AFD, Agence des Villes et Territoires Méditerranéens Durables (Avitem), CDC, Cities Alliance, CODATU, GIZ, EIB, MedCities, World Bank, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), UCLG-MEWA.


    Regional Context

    The MENA region is facing demographic pressure and rapid urbanization: while the region is currently 60% urbanized, it will experience a projected 45% increase of its urban population by 2030 (equal to 106 million additional urban inhabitants). Concentrating populations and resources, cities in MENA have represented powerful engines of growth. Yet the urbanization process has also contributed to concentrating and exacerbating socio-economic inequalities within growing urban territories, between larger and smaller cities, and between cities and their hinterlands. Generated and anchored in Arab cities, the Arab Spring uprisings well illustrated the growing demands for sustainable and good quality urban services for all, especially from populations living in areas with poorer amenities. Those demands included calls for greater decentralization, accountability mechanisms, and giving a voice to those who have traditionally been voiceless.



    The work program is structured around two pillars:

    • Territorial Cohesion - Urban Joint activities: The aim was to move forward the agenda of territorial cohesion in the MENA region by: i) developing a common understanding through sharing knowledge, common policies and activities, and developing best practices on Mediterranean Territorial Cohesion issues; and ii) setting up priorities and opportunities for action. The theme of territorial cohesion was discussed from an urban perspective, around the following specific policy issues: Cities and regional development; Engaging local stakeholders in local and urban development processes (with a focus on youth and women); Empowering cities and financing local development; Promoting Sustainable and Inclusive Cities.
    • Encouraging cooperation among existing urban programs: This pillar aimed at developing joint initiatives and fostering cooperation on the respective urban programs and operations of all partners. At the end of the coverage period (September 2016), four urban programs remained active:
      • CoMun Program (GIZ), aims to develop networks of urban practitioners within municipalities, and to improve municipal services management;
      • MENA Urbanization Knowledge Platform (WB), provides knowledge exchange for mayors and urban practitioners on municipal finance, city resilience and inclusive cities; Sustainable Urban Transport Program (AFD), Cooperation for Urban Mobility in the Developing World–CODATU, and Center for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility, and Urban and Country Planning–CEREMA);
      • Sustainable Urban Development Program (EIB, AFD, CDC) aims to identify and raise awareness about innovative urban development projects, while promoting knowledge exchange among urban developers in the region.


    Selected Outcomes

    Territorial cohesion – Urban joint activities

    • Public debate on “Territorial Cohesion and inclusive growth in a Mediterranean Region Undergoing Transition”: As part of the high-visibility Mediterranean Economic Week 2015, a one-day conference of donors, civil society, local authorities, businesses and representatives of youth from 8 Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, France, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal and Tunisia) provided an opportunity to analyze and discuss measures taken at different scales for more inclusive territories and improved territorial cohesion.
    • Agreement reached on common joint activities in territorial cohesion agenda in Mediterranean by Urban Hub partners: The CMI convened, at two Urban Hub meetings, active partners collaborating on urban programs. They agreed on a more focused approach to territorial cohesion and spatial disparities, and developed a work plan of joint activities including: analytical work on territorial cohesion in the Mediterranean basin (position paper; stocktaking of policies; catalogue of best practices), a knowledge event (a regional conference), and a possible community of practice to disseminate the analytical work, and further exchanges on successful/ challenging experiences related to territorial cohesion. 

    Encouraging cooperation among existing urban programs

    • Mediterranean learning network; communities of practice (CoP) of municipalities, urban developers and urban transport practitioners built and sustained:
      • GIZ/CoMun scaled up support for good practices in urban management and local democracy through learning networks involving Moroccan and Tunisians mayors and city practitioners, on 9 themes.
      • Caisse des Depots, as part of the SUD-MED program, organized the annual conference of the Network of Mediterranean Sustainable Urban Developers, with the aim of identifying best practices and levers for designing and implementing sustainable urban projects, focusing this year on: skills and operating methods.
      • AFD and CODATU in May 2016 launched a Community of Practice on urban transport facilitated by the CMI. A first newsletter was released and a first successful webinar was staged from the MEDCop22 in Tangiers, Morocco, in July 2016.
    • South-to-south exchange on Urban Transport allowed for mutual learning and training between Morocco and Jordan: In an event organized by AFD and CODATU, a senior official from Morocco presented the reforms implemented in this country for financing urban transport (as a result of a previous CMI workshop), during Jordan’s National Days of Urban Transport (26-28 October, 2015). As one of the results, a study tour was organized in Morocco for a Jordanian delegation of parliamentarians and representatives of the Amman municipality.
    • My city is my friend: Innovative one-stop-shops in Tunisian municipalities allowed for enhanced local democracy: CoMun (GIZ) contributed to local democracy, by establishing 10 one-stop-shops (citizen spaces) in Tunisian municipalities, where citizens receive fast and client-friendly services from their city administration, such as building permits, business licenses, birth certificates etc. The program has also established cooperation mechanisms between municipal administrations and civil society, in particular with the young generation, as well as participatory budget planning and other procedures to promote regular participation by citizens.
    • A draft roadmap from the National Days of Urban Transport, in Jordan, will be further developed by the authorities: The October 2015 “National Urban Transport Days” workshop in Jordan addressed the fundamentals of Jordan’s urban transport systems and identified top priorities in terms of governance, financing, planning and regulation, and stakeholders’ involvement. Particular attention was paid to medium-sized, growing cities like Irbid and Zarqa and to inter-city transport, to achieve a balanced regional development. Concrete priority actions were identified at the workshop and put together in a Roadmap. The Transportation Ministry and experts welcomed the work and requested further support in the development of an Action Plan for Urban Mobility and building up capacities in the field of urban transport. Technical assistance to respond to this request is under assessment by the EU in the field of the Euromed programme.
    • Good practices in Smart Initiatives in the Mediterranean region disseminated and discussed: The European Investment Bank, in partnership with ASCIMER, organized the “Implementation of smart city projects in the Mediterranean region” event in Casablanca (October 2016). The event included discussion of good practices in Smart initiatives and a site visit to Zenata project, one of EIB’s flagship projects for sustainable development. The smart cities project aims at contributing to cities’ economic development through encouraging integrated planning and management solutions. 


    Actionable Solutions

    Urban and Territorial Development Projects in the Mediterranean - A Compendium of Experiences of the CMI Urban Hub