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Urban Development as a building block of democracy




“Urbanisation is a major challenge for democratic transition in the Mediterranean”, says Henry Marty-Gauquié, Director – Links with International Organisations and representative of the European Investment Bank group (EIB), Paris.



Revolutions, evolutions, Mediterranean countries are committing to new horizons. Issues long buried under the altar of a centralising power are beginning to emerge, such as the need for the new governance of cities. “Urbanisation is a major challenge for democratic transition in the Mediterranean,” says Henry Marty-Gauquié, Director – Links with International Organisations and representative of the European Investment Bank group (EIB), Paris.

By 2050, the urban population on the European side will have stabilised at around 170 million inhabitants, while the population of the Maghreb and the Mashriq will have doubled to more than 300 million people. Structural changes resulting from this (urban sprawl and metropolisation) require that, as of now, methods of governance are appropriate to the new scales of operation of these large cities and that delays in infrastructure, already considerable, are quickly made up for,” says Henry Marty-Gauquié.

We must provide Mediterranean countries with infrastructure capable of meeting the needs of populations. “These investments, which are long-term by nature and usually large-scale, are traditionally borne by the public sector. They involve the most diverse sectors such as energy, access to water, sanitation, transport, social housing, education and health, to meet the challenges of urban demographics, climate change, economic attractiveness and, ultimately, employment”.


Promoting PPPs

Mediterranean countries must catch up with the lack of equipment in urban infrastructure (photo F.Dubessy)
Mediterranean countries must catch up with the lack of equipment in urban infrastructure (photo F.Dubessy)

To finance these projects, Mediterranean countries will not only have to ensure a double-digit rate of growth, but also find a new, more egalitarian development model. Democratic transitions have shown that people are fed up with a few individuals usurping all the power and wealth. “Urban development and regional balance are central to the “new growth” to be established in the south Mediterranean region, in terms of job creation and social justice. Catching up with the under-supply of equipment for urban infrastructure was just an economic necessity before the revolutions. Now it has a sense of political urgency”, says Henry Marty-Gauquié.

The EIB has three kinds of actions to support this change: funding integrated urban development (urban and hospital programmes in Syria, social housing in Morocco), technical assistance operations to define projects (Damascus metro, assistance with project management for the renovation of the Meknes medina) and preparing operational strategies with the Marseille Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), that the EIB created in October 2009, with the World Bank and six governments (France, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon).
In this context, the EIB is driving the “Medinas 2030 initiative” (promoting an integrated approach to renovating historic city centres in the south Mediterranean region) and is developing two programmes for sustainable urban projects and transport innovation with the French Development Agency (AFD). It also seeks to promote public-private partnerships (PPPs) by offering technical assistance. “A well-designed policy to use PPPs can both accelerate democratic penetration in economic governance and attract a sufficient number of investors and private operators”, notes Henry Marty-Gauquié.

French version


Frédéric Dubessy avec la BEI


Tuesday, October 30th 2012



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