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The EU, UN-Habitat and partners in high-level meeting on urban recovery approaches

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

Officials from UN-Habitat, UN Development Programme (UNDP), the European Union (EU) and World Bank met in Brussels earlier this week for policy dialogue on Urban Recovery Frameworks (URF), taking stock of the lessons learnt in a number of countries, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

Image from the meeting between the EU, UN-Habitat and partners in Brussels, 8 April 2022.

The last decades have witnessed an increasing number of natural and man-made disasters, impacting complex and high-density urban settings. Since the signing of the Joint Declaration on Post-Crisis Assessments and Recovery Planning in 2008, the European Union, United Nations, and the World Bank have sought to identify new ways to ensure assessments of damage and needs are translate into concrete and well-coordinated recovery.

The participants said national level recovery frameworks should identify the institutional arrangements, policies and plans, as well as the coordination mechanisms and the financing instruments, to guide interventions.

Since 2015, the URF has been iteratively developed and applied in different countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by UN-Habitat in partnership with other UN agencies, as well as the EU and the World Bank.

The URF builds on area-based approaches to urban response but suggests a more structured approach to work at programmatic, policy and regulatory levels in parallel, prompting recovery and the renewal of the social contract from the neighbourhood to city level, and then to national (policy and regulatory) levels.

Initial piloting of the URF, for example in Syria, indicates that it can become an effective approach to respond to urban crises at scale, whilst acknowledging the complexity of urban crises and the impact of both pre-crises and post-crises stressors.

As an input to the Brussels event, UN-Habitat and partners prepared a policy brief, outlining the main components of the URF. It can be found here.

Speaking at the event, the Acting Director General of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations agency (ECHO) Michael Köhler said, “We need to understand urban contexts better. We need to mainstream urban dimensions in our actions, tools and modalities. We need a multi-sectoral approach, which means supporting existing services, infrastructures and systems through an integrated approach rather than creating parallel system delivery.”

And, he added, “We need a multi-stakeholder approach, involving local actors, private sectors, national authorities and engage with national civil-protection systems. And we need a stronger nexus approach, which necessitates engaging with development actors. Therefore, the EU welcomes the Urban Recovery Framework, which implies a more structured approach and also takes into account the complexity of urban crises and its challenges before, during and after the crisis.”

UN-Habitat’s Emergency Director Filiep Decorte called for a focus on financing instruments, multi-level governance arrangements, and housing and economic recovery to ensure urban recovery would be at scale and maximise impact with available resources.

Partners committed to the development of a roadmap to adopt URF as part of a recovery toolbox in support of the 2008 Joint Declaration and the 2017 Practical Note for Joint Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessments.

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