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Priorities under pressure: How cities can be inclusive, resilient and green in response to a refugee crisis

Eva Bernard


date June 28, 2022 | 17:30 - 19:00
Multifunction Hall Room 2
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
NE 82


In the context of the current crisis, cities face unprecedented challenges. More than 3 million refugees have fled Ukraine, with over half of them in Poland. Most of them are women, children and the elderly. Warsaw has seen a 20% increase of its population in just a few weeks. While the refugee crisis poses a major challenge to pursue the sustainability efforts of the city, it is also opportunity to build on the changing paradigms brought on by recent crises and include more citizens in the transition towards an inclusive, green and resilient economy. The event will be a panel discussion to reflect on the current situation and learn how the framework of the SDGs can help guide cities at different stages of refugee inflow develop economic inclusion and integration strategies. In Turkey, Gaziantep has welcomed almost half a million Syrian refugees over the past years. As part of its refugee response programme, the Municipality developed policies that promote their economic inclusion, and has engaged in a greener transition. Both cities face challenges due to a rapid and sudden growth in population and seek to promote equal opportunities for all and environmental sustainability in their long-term urban development. The EBRD and the OECD work with both cities and in many others, under respectively the EBRD Green Cities programme and the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth initiative. They will share insights about their work with municipalities and on urban inclusion, and their response to the crisis. The EBRD will share insights about its resilience package in response to the war on Ukraine, its Green Cities programme, and about its extensive work with private and public sectors to “build back better” in cities. Examples will be shared of EBRD’s work to support refugees, and to promote economic inclusion for all ages and abilities and gender equality, when it comes to access to employment opportunities and access to urban municipal services. The OECD will share its experience working on local integration strategies to advance inclusive growth in cities such as Stockholm’s efforts to integrate women migrants into the local economic fabric, and Athens’s efforts to provide community spaces and better linkages to civic life for new arrivals, and the opportunity to use the SDGs measurement tool to track distance to achieving goals. The initial interventions of the four panellists will be structured along the following questions. o In the context of the current crisis, what are the main challenges and priorities for urban development? o What kind of policies and investments are needed in cities to ensure the protection of livelihoods, employment opportunities, access to infrastructure services and care for both local and refugee populations? o How do you reconcile the current crisis and the longer-term approach to promote an inclusive, low carbon and resilient future in cities? These interventions will be followed by a Q&A.


o Understand the implications in terms of human capital and economic resilience of the crisis in cities with fast growing populations due to migration flows o Share examples of concrete actions, investments and policies that enabled create economic opportunities for refugee populations, in particular in terms of access to urban infrastructure services, and more broadly economic inclusion for all (including women, people of all ages and abilities) in cities o Understand how to integrate these actions into planning and financing for cities – drawing on lessons from Warsaw, Gaziantep, the EBRD’s Green Cities programme and the OECD’s work o Build awareness on the key role of partnerships and of both public and private sectors to mitigate the impacts of the crisis on labour markets, public finance, municipal services, and local economic growth o Reflect on the challenges faced by City leaders facing multiple priorities and having to conciliate short-term and long terms actions o Share and discuss actions that enable to use the momentum of the crisis recovery (refugee crisis but also Covid) to set foundations for sustainable growth in cities o Understand how green finance can help build back better and achieve goals of an inclusive and green recovery o Highlight the importance of partnerships and cooperation between public, private sectors and partners to tackle the challenges of the current crisis, and support cities towards an inclusive and sustainable future.

Session speakers

Ms. Susan Goeransson
Director for Sustainable Infrastructure, Europe
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Ms. Fatma Şahin
City of Gaziantep
Mr. Roman Szełemej
City of Walbrzych
Ms. Soo-Jin Kim
Acting Head, Cities, Urban Policies, and Sustainable Development, OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMES, regions and Cities
Ms. Sunita Pitamber
Associate Director for Gender Mainstreaming and Infrastructure
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)