City leaders discuss risk management in international high level workshop

May 22, 2014 9:05 am

Representatives from around the world are gathered in Marseille this week to discuss how to improve the resilience of cities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region against shocks from natural hazards, water shortages, influx of refugees, pandemics and other risks. While the number of disasters globally has almost doubled since the 1980s, in MENA it has almost tripled.

The impact of disasters on MENA cities has increased with greater population density. The MENA region is 62% urbanized, and the urban population is expected to double by 2040. Over the past 30 years, natural disasters cost MENA economies about $19bn.

Disaster risks are particularly acute for coastal cities where population and economic asset concentration are high. In Morocco, 80% of industry and services are concentrated in 3 coastal cities and 40% of Egypt’s industry is located in Alexandria.

Cyber, financial, and pandemic risks are just a few of the risks that confront city managers in MENA. Risk management requires strategic measures by governments and businesses alike. Mayors and governments need to think holistically about the risks that can affect the future development and growth of their cities. The event, ‘Increasing the Resilience of Cities in the Middle East and North Africa’, which will convene 70 representatives from MENA, Europe, the United States, Latin America and East Asia is co-organized by the World Bank, the Arab Urban Development Institute, and the Center for Mediterranean Integration.

Participants include mayors and deputy mayors from 15 cities and 13 countries in the Mediterranean and MENA, central government representatives, private sector leaders, international experts and donor organization. Discussions will focus on the many challenges cities face in trying to strengthen their resilience.

Representatives will have an opportunity to:
•Share experiences and lessons learned from cities and countries with similar risk exposure;
•Interact with peers and world-renowned experts to turn risk into opportunities for measurable progress in building resilience;
•Identify ways to operationalize the recommendations of World Bank and partners’ recent studies; and
•Engage the private sector in the definition, funding and implementation of new solutions and technologies to mitigate risks in cities.

Media Contact: (Ms) Zein Nahas, Communication Officer at the Center for Mediterranean Integration, 00 33 6 04677242,