|Municipal Management and Urban Development for sustainability in Arab Cities|
Kuwait State Ministry of Municipality and UN-HABITAT, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, in partnership with Arab Towns Organization are pleased to invite you to take an active part in the first joint Arab Regional Conference on Municipal Management and Urban Development in Arab Cities that will be held in Kuwait from 7 – 9 May, 2012.
The conference organizers wishes to extend their invitation to all interested institutions, professionals, mayors and urban practitioners from government, private sector and civil societies from around the globe to share their experiences, best/good practices debate and discuss as well as the new challenges of the urban agenda in Arab Cities. As the region is undergoing profound transformations through the Arab uprisings and given the critical role of urbanization in this historic process, the conference will contribute to consolidate an Arab region position for future urban agenda to be presented at the 6th edition of World Urban Forum (WUF6) that is going to be held in Naples , Italy 1-7 September 2012.
The Arab region is the most urbanized region in the world, with a total population of 375 million people in 2010. The urban population account to 56%, but the urban development experiences are diversified depending on sub-regions and also within the same sub-region and more within cities of a country. Urban development takes different modes, paths and approaches between the sub-regions Mashreq (Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine , Jordan and Iraq), Maghreb (Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria), Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar) and Southern Tier (Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Mauritius and Mauritania).
Medium- sized cities are growing more than larger cities . Urbanisation is slowing down in Mashreq, Maghreb and Gulf Cooperation Council while it is escalating in the southern tier countries. When it comes to population growth rate, the Gulf Cooperation Council is experiencing the fastest rate of total population growth. It is expected that the total population in the region is still projected to double by 2050, by which time the region will be 68 per cent urbanized. This trend will place continued pressure on urban infrastructure, housing and social services.
High growth rates will put enormous pressure on the provision of housing, basic services, mobility, and other public amenities. However, despite of growth disparities, reversals and problems, the associated benefits of urbanization speak for themselves; improved living conditions, education, life expectancy, infant mortality, absolute poverty and deprivation, and other development indicators. Cities are engines of growth, hubs of opportunities, and places for investments, technological advancement and quality services, employment and innovation.
The Arab region faces currently challenges in youth unemployment, social justice , government transparency and inclusiveness, housing affordability and rising food and energy prices. These challenges will become intensified given the demographics of the region and anticipated impacts of climate change. There will be then a need for better governance mechanisms and more innovative strategies for urban and regional integration to enable cities to become more sustainable.
Understanding which cities in the region will experience economic and demographic boom, and which cities will experience economic and population decline, will be extremely relevant for maximizing gains, locating or relocating investments and opportunities, as well as planning for more sustainable and balanced urban and regional development .