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Sustainable Urban Development in the Arab/MENA Region - WUF10 (8-13 February 2020, Abu Dhabi, UAE)
9 Feb 2020 -  The rapid rate of urbanization in the Arab States/Middle East and North Africa region as a result of changing social, political, economic and environmental factors has created new opportunities, along with a set of critical challenges in the development and sustainability of cities. Rising levels of urban poverty and inequality, unemployment, and a critical shortage of affordable housing have led to the rapid growth of informal settlements, leaving cities with inadequate capacity to provide basic services. Many cities also lack the institutional capacity necessary to oversee the transition to sustainable urbanization.

The effects of climate change expose many cities to the challenges of coping with damaged infrastructure and the disruption of public services, while the growing scarcity of natural resources threatens their food security. 

Extensive and unprecedented human suffering and the physical damage resulting from armed conflicts have caused large-scale population movements with millions of internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants moving into urban areas. The additional strain placed on the economies, infrastructure, and public services in host communities have a negative impact on the well-being of large numbers of the host, displaced and refugee populations.  

Adapting to such dynamic change and responding to the complex challenges of helping cities to recover from the consequences of conflicts, build resilience and achieve sustainable development require innovative humanitarian, developmental and peacebuilding initiatives.

The culture of innovation must be cultivated across all sectors through effective partnerships and appropriate business models. 

Identifying innovative funding mechanisms, promoting research, and sharing of knowledge and best practices will be necessary for cities in the region to overcome these challenges, increase their competitiveness and realize their full potential as drivers of equitable and inclusive growth.


The session is a platform for stakeholders to explore the potential of partnerships in innovation as enablers of sustainable urban development in the region. It will focus on the following specific issues:

Multi-stakeholder partnerships for innovative and scalable solutions that contribute to inclusive and sustainable urban development.
Innovative strategies to boost the urban economy, provide affordable housing, and develop city infrastructure while closing the gap in access to basic urban services between formal and informal settlements in cities.
Innovative financing mechanisms required to support localization of the SDGs, accelerate implementation of the New Urban Agenda, boost the urban economy and support post-conflict recovery and reconstruction. How to leverage partnerships and innovation to build resilience and scale-up urban recovery and reconstruction (building back better and strengthening the humanitarian-development-peace nexus) in conflict and post-conflict settings.

Guiding Questions:

What engagement strategies and partnership models can advance innovative and scalable solutions to inclusive and sustainable urban development in the Arab States/MENA Region?
How can uncontrolled urban sprawl be managed and transformed through quality urban planning and innovative design?
How can innovative partnerships support recovery and reconstruction in post-conflict settings?
Who are the existing stakeholders and what are some examples of successful stakeholder partnerships?
How can we create an enabling environment to promote innovative partnerships and financing?
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