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Increasing the Resilience of Cities in MENA

Status: Completed
  • The World Bank and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), in partnership with  the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and, the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI), are organizing the high-level workshop: “Increasing Resilience of Cities in MENA: What can City Leaders Learn from International Experience”.  The event will be held in Marseille, France, from May 22-23, 2014.


    The workshop will bring together about 70 participants, including 15 mayors from 13 MENA countries, risk management practitioners from MENA, Europe, the US, Latin America and East Asia, as well as CEOs of leading risk management corporations, UN, other international experts and Alice C. Hill, Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience at the White House. The Marseille gathering responds to MENA stakeholders’ growing interest in integrated risk management strategies supporting the development of more resilient economies. As the third in the MENA UKP conference series[1] and the second in a series of WB MENA resilience conferences[2], this conference will also help advance a broader program to improve urban development in MENA. 


    To support MENA policymakers’ efforts to develop comprehensive and integrated risk management policies (including communities and the private sector),


    Regional Context

    In a context of demographic pressure and rapid urbanization, MENA cities are particularly sensitive to exogenous hazards and shocks. Most cities in MENA are especially exposed to natural disaster and climate-related shocks, and the impact on cities has been aggravated by the rise in population density (62% of the total population of MENA live in cities and in absolute terms, the MENA urban population is expected to double by 2040), water scarcity and climate change. While the number of natural disasters around the world has almost doubled since the 1980s, in MENA it has almost tripled, affecting 40 million people over the last 25 years, and costing US$19 billion. With greater integration into global markets and in the wake of the Arab Spring, MENA cities are also increasingly exposed to broader sets of adverse shocks beyond natural risks, which can also jeopardize hard-won gains and affect cities’ stability, their enterprises, households and individuals. While enabling democratic reforms and paving the way for economic development (the results of which will be achieved on a medium and long term), it is estimated that the Arab Spring has resulted in US$800 billion in lost output in the seven hardest-hit countries. The migration flows generated can also have significant potential impact on the stability of several MENA cities.


    Conference objective

    The objective of this conference is to help cities in MENA increase their resilience toward a range of shocks through:

    • sharing the experiences and lessons learned from major cities and countries in the world that have similar risk exposure and have taken successful measures to enhance their resilience;
    • enabling MENA leaders to share the challenges and opportunities they face in enhancing their cities’ resilience;
    • discussing ways to operationalize the recommendations of recent studies[3]  and to replicate this type of approach in other cities ; and
    • discussing ways to involve the private sector in the definition, the funding and the implementation of new solutions/technologies to address/reduce risks in cities.

    The presentations made during the conference are accessible through the links providing below. The agenda of the workshop is also available here.

    World Bank report on Natural Disaster in the Middle East and North Africa

    World Bank Quick Note on “Natural Disasters in MENA: a Regional Overview”


    Participants’ PowerPoint presentations

    Day 1

    SESSION 1 – The Cost of Natural Disasters and Climate Change on Cities: Mayors’ Views on the Threats and Opportunities Confronting Cities

    SESSION 2 – Mitigating Risks and responding to Shocks in Coastak Cities: Experiences from Cities in MENA and Around the World

    SESSION 3 – Risk, Resilience and Growth: How Can Finance Help?

    SESSION 4 – Managing Multi-sectorial Risks in Cities

    Day 2:

    SESSION 5 – Leveraging Technology to Enhance Cities’ Resilience

    SESSION 6 – Mainstreaming Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation in City Planning



    [1] The MENA UKP was launched in September 2012 during a conference held in Marseille, kicking off a cycle of conferences. This was followed by a regional event organized in Rabat, Morocco, March 2013, delving into the municipal finance issue.

    [2] A regional consultative workshop to present the WB draft regional report “Natural Disasters in the Middle East and North Africa: A regional Overview” took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, November 2013.

    [3] Including the action plans developed in 4 coastal cities with the support of the World Bank, the French Caisse des Dépôts, and the CMI.