UN-Habitat initiated Urban Thinkers campus (UTC) series in 2014. Aiming to push for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Also to create local platforms for urban experts to enhance the constructive urban transformation of societies.
The MENA-Region didn’t take part in the ongoing events before and was identified as a strong regional gap. Urban Thinkers Campus El Gouna hosted on the 8th of December, the first UTC in North African countries.
The Technical University of Berlin in El Gouna hosted the Event. Inviting participants from different entities and urban experts ranging from academics, consultants and representatives from the government in Egypt and the MENA-Region. Department of Urban Development team coordinated by Hassan Elmouelhi and Martin Meyer together with GIZ Egypt, DAAD and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development organized the event from the 8th to 10th December.
Urban Thinkers Campus Program
TU Berlin vise president Angela Ittel and Zeyad El Shakra representing UN-Habitat ROAS gave the welcome speech. During the 3 days of the events, the experts provided comprehensive input. Professor David Sims (a well known urban planner and the writer of the Understanding Cairo books series) gave a lecture on the Social Cohesion, Urban Fragmentation, and Livelihoods. Dr. Fatima Al-Nammari the dean of Architecture department at Petra University discussed Migration, Refugees and how it affects urbanism. She presented Amman city as a case study. Due to several migrations and refugees waves to the city related to political events that occurred in the region resulted in a special urban fabric. Nihal Elmegharbel from UN-Habitat Egypt presented SDGs/NUA/SDSs – Egypt Vision 2030.
Partner groups including academics, civil society, government, private sector, consultants and international cooperation were formed to work together during the 1st and 3rd day. Throughout the second-day panel discussions took place discussing the regional, national and local level. The panels incorporated lectures from Elaf Raslan – UN-Habitat ROAS, Omar Nagati – Cluster, Myriam Ababsa – IFPO Jordan, Suzanne Maguire – UN-Habitat Lebanon, Matthieu Vernusse – Solidarités International, Lebanon, Ahmed Zaazaa – 10 Tooba, Egypt and several other experts.
Magd Zahran -UN Habitat Egypt- provided one of the interesting presentations titled “Banha Land readjustment, Pilot project”. Raising the topic of building on agriculture land in Egypt. Which is considered one of the biggest urban challenges facing the country. Huge fragmantation occurs in the land which makes it difficult to control and reform this exploitation. Due to the huge number of landowners for a small piece of agriculture land.
Raising during the 3-day event several other crucial topics. Such as social inclusion, safe inclusive and accessible public spaces, participatory planning approaches, political paradigm, and its reflections on urban decisions and shaping the cities.
The organizers asked the participants to work in focus groups at the end of the last day. To come up with ideas for capacity building and Agenda for Action. Which gave all the participants the chance to wrap up and propose innovative ideas as an outcome of this event.