The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) has called for the EU’s Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) to play an integral role in a new Urban Agenda for the Mediterranean. The request, contained in a declaration issued on 22 May by ministers of the UfM’s member states, has been welcomed by the European Committee of the Regions, which established ARLEM in 2010.
The UfM declaration asks ARLEM to provide input into “the design and implementation of policies”, and to participate in a working group of a “UfM Regional Platform on Sustainable Urban Development” in order to discuss “the operational steps to be taken to implement the UfM Urban Agenda”. The purpose of the regional platform would be to develop ways of “fostering innovative and sustainable solutions, promoting better knowledge and best practices on common urban development priorities, and identifying new projects that would be replicated in the region”. The declaration also describes local authorities as having a “crucial role” in the implementation, monitoring and review of the new UfM Urban Agenda.
The UfM’s Urban Agenda will contribute to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, in Goal 11, explicitly sets the target of making “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
Speaking at the ministerial meeting in Cairo, ARLEM’s rapporteur on a sustainable urban agenda for the Mediterranean region, Fawzi Masad of Jordan, said: “We need to enable local authorities to fully grasp their potential as drivers for sustainable urban development. It is in cities that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will succeed or fail. Key policies do not exist independent of the territory, and they have to all have to be played out in urban areas.” Mr Masad is city manager for the Municipality of Greater Amman, Jordan’s capital.
The UfM says cities in the Mediterranean region face one of the fastest rates of urbanisation in the world, are suffering a “fast decline” in “many historical city centres” because of “the development of… major urban areas”, and are highly vulnerable to climate change.
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