Essaouira (Morocco) hosts evaluation meeting of 'urban development and freshwater resources: small historical coastal cities' projectHow to restore and preserve the historical heart of coastal cities, without driving away their inhabitants, while respecting traditional building criteria as well as modern norms, with the participation of local craftsmen and the support of local and governmental authorities?
That is the multiple challenge the “Urban Development and Freshwater Resources: Small Historical Coastal Cities” project is designed to meet. UNESCO has been developing the project since 1997 in five “case study” cities – Essaouira (Morocco), Mahdia (Tunisia), Omišalj (Croatia), Saďda (Lebanon,) et Jableh (Syria). From November 30 to December 2, 2003, all those involved in the project – architects, urban planners, geologists, hydrologists, local officials and UNESCO experts – will be evaluating its progress in Essaouira, at the invitation of Morocco.
The project’s main objective is to promote and propose alternative solutions of sustainable sociocultural and environmental development to the municipalities and ministries concerned.
On December 1, the mayors of the case study cities will present the projects carried out in their towns since UNESCO’s activities in their municipality, such as expert missions and international seminars on “Urban development: a balance between Land, Sea and Society”. The mayors and experts will attempt to evaluate the real impact of these interventions on political decisions taken by municipalities in the choice of new projects or the reorientation of existing ones.
On December 2, the experts will formulate recommendations on the follow-up of the project. They will base their conclusions partly on the evaluation report of the Algerian geographer Rachid Sidi Boumedine. They will also consider municipalities’ expectations, partnership offers and the contributions of other United Nations agencies such as UN-Habitat, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
This UNESCO project associates primarily the experts’ networks of the MOST Programme (Management of Social Transformations), the IHP (International Hydrological Programme) and the “Coastal Regions and Small Islands” Unit. It is based on the principles of the Istanbul Declaration (Habitat II, 1996) and the ICOMOS Charter on Historical Cities.