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UNESCO and Arab Towns Organisation (ATO) join the EIB’s “Medinas 2030” Initiative

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UNESCO and Arab Towns Organisation (ATO) join the EIB’s “Medinas 2030” Initiative

  •  Release date: 09 December 2010
  •  Reference: 2010-227-EN

During the meeting of its Scientific Committee in Marseille on 9 December, the “Medinas 2030” Initiative of the European Investment Bank (EIB) celebrated the addition of two new members, UNESCO’s World Heritage Programme and the Arab Towns Organisation (ATO). Five Mediterranean countries – Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon – are represented at the highest level of the institutions responsible for regional and urban planning, as well as by urban developers and Arab heritage protection associations.

“Medinas 2030” was launched by the EIB at the Venice Architecture Biennale in October 2008. It aims to strengthen the public policies of the Mediterranean partner countries[1] on the regeneration of ancient districts and city centres. In practice, this Initiative works alongside the partner countries to facilitate medina rehabilitation projects that foster integrative urban strategies, a prerequisite for sustainable urban development and improved coordination between lenders, taking account of the financing requirements and the shortage of public funds. Since September 2009, “Medinas 2030” has been housed by the Marseille Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI : www.cmimarseille.org) and has formed one of the four programmes of the Centre's urban section.

Enhanced sharing of experiences and training with the partner countries

The “Medinas 2030” Scientific Committee is chaired by UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Prof Bandarin. As the management body of the “Medinas 2030” Initiative, the Committee has three objectives: to validate the programme's scientific approach; to identify (from a list of 16 exemplary projects in five countries) urban regeneration operations which will receive technical assistance and then financing from the international lenders; and to promote the Initiative’s cultural dimension.

The partnership agreement between the EIB and ATO, which was signed today in Marseille by the EIB Vice-President with responsibility for FEMIP, Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, and the Deputy Secretary-General of ATO, HE Ahmad Al-Adsani, has several aims including the sharing of experience in the rehabilitation of ancient heritage centres in Arab cities; the training of developers and the creation of governance structures for such projects; and the promotion of new initiatives by the Arab towns that are members of the Organisation.

The partnership between the EIB and UNESCO is consistent with the World Programme Charter and will facilitate the attainment of the "Medinas 2030" objectives in two respects.  First, technical seminars will be held in the sites selected by "Medinas 2030” that are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List: these seminars will focus on the methodologies and implementation of integrative urban strategies as well as levers for mobilising the private sector. Second, UNESCO intends to introduce, with the support of the International Financial Institutions, a Masters programme of further training in the field of urban renovation with a cultural dimension.

"Medinas 2030": progress and outlook

“Medinas 2030” brings together several partners around the EIB, including the World Bank, AfD (Agence Française de Développement), the French Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Commission’s “Euromed Heritage” Programme, local authority networks such as Medcities, ATO and the Alliance of European Cultural Cities (AVEC), and several universities including the IUAV University of Venice and the Polytechnic Institute of Barcelona. Since its launch, the initiative has achieved a number of concrete results:

  • the Marseille international conference in October 2009 reached a consensus on the importance of rehabilitating ancient centres in order to maintain the economic attractiveness of cities in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region and demonstrated the commitment of the partner countries to stepping up their efforts in this area;
  • the publication in mid-2010 of the book edited by Prof Marcello Balbo of the University of Venice which provides a summary of the lessons learnt from urban heritage rehabilitation strategies that have already been implemented and sets out scenarios for improvement;
  • an initial study submitted to the Scientific Committee in December 2010 helped to identify 16 exemplary sites and their development potential; this study will provide a basis for pinpointing a number of pilot projects in the partner countries, suitable for receiving technical and financial support from the lenders participating in the “Medinas 2030” Initiative;
  • a second, more detailed operational study will help to identify in 2011 the requirements and feasibility of innovative financing arrangements. As a complement to public resources, these financial products will be designed to mobilise the private sector with respect to public utilities (transport, sanitation) or collective needs (housing). This study will be based on the Meknes pilot project, undertaken by Al Omrane and financed by the EIB;
  • the provision of technical assistance and training programmes for the selected pilot projects in 2011 and 2012.  This will be accompanied by an international conference scheduled to take place at end-2011 in a partner country with the support of ATO;
  • a new conference at the Venice Architecture Biennale at end-2010 will close the “Medinas 2030” Initiative with a presentation of the lessons learnt, the methodologies and the results from  this programme.

Note to editors:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) puts the economic and financial partnership between Europe and the Mediterranean into practice through FEMIP, its dedicated Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership. This facility brings together the whole range of services provided by the EIB to assist the socio-economic development of the partner countries: loans, private equity, technical assistance and studies. Operational since October 2002, FEMIP is now the benchmark financier in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, having provided more EUR 12bn of financing, of which EUR 2.2 billion in 2010. Its priorities are the development of the local private sector, in particular SMEs, and the improvement of the business environment by financing basic infrastructure, modernising the financial sector and protecting the natural environment.  Further details are available on the website www.eib.org/femip.

The Arab Towns Organisation (ATO) was established in Kuwait City in 1967 to support the urban development of Arab towns using an integrated approach, taking account of the specific characteristics of the member towns.   Its expertise, well recognised through its observer status within the United Nations and the Council of Europe, for example, is based on a network of 400 members spread throughout 22 countries.  The signature of the partnership agreement between ATO and the EIB concerning the “Medinas 2030” Initiative reflects the Organisation’s intention to extend its field of activity to the historic centres and to introduce innovative solutions in order to raise financing and mobilise private resources.  Further details are available on the website www.ato.net/web.

The Marseille Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) was created in September 2009 to assist the modernisation of the public policies of the partner countries in five areas: spatial and urban development; water and the environment; transport and logistics; skills, employment and mobility; the knowledge economy; and technologies and innovation. The founder members of CMI are the EIB, the World Bank, AfD, Caisse des Dépôts, the City of Marseille and six governments: France, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Further details are available on the website www.cmimarseille.org.


[1] The countries of FEMIP, the EIB facility for implementing the objectives of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Algeria, Egypt, Gaza/West Bank, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia.


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