FEMIP, the European Investment Bank’s financial arm for the Mediterranean, is today organising an international conference in Venice on the rehabilitation of historic cities in the countries of the southern Mediterranean. Bringing together town planners, architects, economists, sociologists and experts from organisations such as UNESCO and the World Bank on the occasion of Venice’s Biennale Architettura, this conference marks the starting point for wide-ranging discussion with a view to setting up an investment programme for the regeneration of the medinas. This initiative goes by the name of “Medinas 2030”.
FEMIP advocates an integrated vision for the rehabilitation of the medinas
Basically, the historic districts of the cities of the southern Mediterranean are lacking in infrastructure and facilities and are therefore steadily deteriorating, with the people living there becoming increasingly poor. The “Medinas 2030” initiative plans to take a longer-term perspective of the rehabilitation of these districts. It assumes that this issue will be looked at in the context of the economic, social and spatial changes that the countries of the Mediterranean will be undergoing over the next few years.
The conclusions drawn by Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, are tantamount to recommendations that will guide the “Medinas 2030” initiative:
- we must prevent city centres from deteriorating further and from becoming transformed into theme parks for tourists;
- we must bring the integrated rehabilitation of the medinas to a successful conclusion that will preserve their cultural character and encourage a high quality of economic and social life;
- good conditions must be guaranteed for access to public services in order to facilitate the right conditions for health and safety;
- the rehabilitation must target a mixture of urban functions and make it possible to support the existing local population or offer them appropriate conditions for relocation;
- the rehabilitation process must be based on close consultation with those affected, using, for instance, appropriate tools for participation;
- pilot schemes can provide a particularly useful frame of reference for instilling confidence among those affected;
- to ensure adequate funding, it is essential that the private sector be involved in an appropriate manner;
- a crucial aspect of the successful rehabilitation of the medinas is that experience be shared among Mediterranean cities. Best practice and pilot schemes will enable national and local capacity to be strengthened;
- international institutions and local organisations should be more involved in the rehabilitation of the medinas by providing the funding and technical assistance needed to develop integrated rehabilitation programmes;
- FEMIP is prepared to take on board anything that will contribute to the success of the 2030 initiative, which will be subject to annual review.
FEMIP, the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership, is the European Investment Bank’s financial arm for the Mediterranean. Its remit is to promote the development of nine countries: Algeria, Egypt, Gaza/West Bank, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. Its two investment priorities are support for the private sector, the engine of sustainable growth, and the creation of an environment conducive to investment, by means of efficient infrastructure and appropriate banking systems. FEMIP has established itself as the main financial partner for the Mediterranean region, with more than EUR 7 billion invested since 2002. It encourages dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean at the institutional level but also with the representatives of the private sector and civil society and carries out field studies financed by its Trust Fund, which is supported by certain EU Member States, in order to constantly increase its understanding of the challenges facing the Euro-Mediterranean region.
The EIB’s expertise in funding urban development
The EIB has developed acknowledged expertise in funding urban development throughout the European Union. In particular, it has been involved in financing the rehabilitation of old or historic urban centres, as in Grenada.
In the southern Mediterranean, FEMIP is active in the urban sector (environment, sanitation, segregated-lane transport, social housing and urban landscaping). Thus in Morocco, the EIB is providing funding for the social housing sector and helping to improve living conditions for households, by assisting with the demolition of shanty towns and with slum clearance schemes. It is also financing a study on the rehabilitation of the medinas, to support the owners of construction projects.