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Building Back Better through Urban Recovery Approaches

Natalia Atfeh


date June 28, 2022 | 17:30 - 19:00
Multifunction Hall Room 3
United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat)
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
NE 83


Disasters concentrated in urban areas have the potential to cause magnified large scale social, economic, political and built destruction and disruption. This can be particularly devastating to productive sectors, public services provision, infrastructure, social constructs and institutional management systems, which often has ramifications on essential systems at national scales.

For instance, the severe damages caused by the protracted crisis in Syria’s largest city and vital economic centre, Aleppo, and the pre-existing impasse to manage the Lebanese energy sector and recent collapse in energy provision brought to the forefront of the multiple crises in Lebanon, following the destruction of the national energy company, Electricité du Liban, in the 4 August 2020 blast in Beirut, shows impact beyond physically affected areas.

Crises unfolding in cities therefore have to be understood and responded to both by addressing the suspension in access to livelihoods, protection mechanisms, services, housing and more, for large populations at the local level, and by the critical impact such events have on interconnected systems and economic activities at regional and national levels, and on countries overall abilities to respond and bounce back from crises.

The emergence of a growing number of complex, multi-faceted and protracted man-made and natural crises affecting cities, has prompted international, national and local partners to elaborate and pilot new tools and ways of working that are more attuned to the specificities of urban crises impacts. Several urban profiling and analysis tools have emerged to guide needs overview and response planning in cities, and urban response methodologies have been formulated, in particular “area-based approaches” (ABAs). This becomes increasingly important as solutions to protracted crises are sought.  Few examples have emerged that are robust enough to persuade stakeholders to adopt ABAs as a tool for spatial coordination, prioritisation and sequencing of activities, whilst also ensuring a shift towards the triple (humanitarian-development-peace) nexus.  

In response to different types of urban crises, UN-Habitat, together with partners, has been promoting the application of the Urban Recovery Framework (URF), which aims to identify and address immediate and medium-term urban recovery interventions while laying the foundations for longer-term resilience strategies in cities affected by natural or man-made crises, including conflict.

The event aims at facilitating the dialogue between varieties of stakeholders in countries which have suffered from manmade and natural disasters and led to recovery and resilience building processes in cities. In the event, the experiences from different countries will be presented and discussed, with a focus on lessons learning for urban recovery and resilience in other crisis contexts. Challenges to promoting, adopting and implementing an urban recovery framework will also be discussed – including the presence of multiple, often uncoordinated, stakeholders and actors on the ground.


The objective of the event is to facilitate dialogue between different stakeholders who are engaged in post crisis urban recovery and resilience building. Participants will provide examples of approaches to urban resilience in post-crisis settings. By drawing lessons learnt and good practices through the discussion, the way forward for urban recovery and resilience building will also be discussed and shared among key stakeholders.

The URF builds on initial 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, to national (policy and regulatory) levels. While the approach is still in development, the initial conceptualisation and piloting has proven the URF represents an incremental approach to respond to urban crises at scale, acknowledging the complexity of urban crises and the impact of both pre-crises and post-crises stressors. The URF therefore both embodies the notion of bouncing back, as well as looking to transformative measures guided by common social and environmental safeguards (with a focus on the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as women and youth) that can contribute to strengthened systems, longer-term urban development, and resilience to future shocks.

Session speakers

Mr. Moutaz Kattan
Deputy Minister
Ministry of Local Administration and Environment
Dr. Raad Al Abasi
Deputy Governor
Ninewa Deputy Governor for Planning Affairs
Ms. Sera Saad
Live Love Lebanon
Eng. Mohammed Fahd
General Director of International Projects
Ministry of General Works
Mr. Emin Huseynov
Special Representative of the President
Karabakh Economic Region
Dr. Natalia Atfeh
Urban Advisor
Ms. Synne Bergby