London, United Kingdom – 5 December 2018 – Today, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region and Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to commence efforts to encourage reconstruction efforts that foster environmental and social sustainability in war-torn countries across MENA.
Urban areas and essential infrastructure across Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Gaza have suffered large-scale damage and destruction due to multiple, recent and ongoing conflicts. These countries also face severe levels of water stress and environmental degradation overlaid by climate change. Extreme temperatures coupled with lack of access to power are already exacerbating inequalities across the region. Reconstruction is likely to take place in a vacuum of environmental regulation, reducing countries’ long-term prospects for the inclusion of returnees, social stability and economic recovery.
Estimates suggest that over 560 billion USD will be needed across the region just to repair and rebuild what was previously there. Rebuilding allows the opportunity to benefit from the latest practices, materials and technologies adapted to a country’s specific climatic conditions and social fabric.
Internationally agreed guidelines and principles and the capacity to apply them within both the construction industry and donor and finance institutions is essential to raise the level of accountability in this area.
This initial one-year knowledge and cooperation partnership will focus on developing a strong plan to research and raise awareness of past experience, local cultural practices and inspiring adaptive examples; coupled with intensive cross-sector dialogue to develop geographically appropriate principles and practical guidelines for sustainable post-conflict reconstruction.
Through the partnership, WorldGBC MENA Region and Chatham House will collaborate to:
- Develop the initial concept note and proposal for activities
- Develop a fundraising strategy
- Secure initial partnerships with international organisations
- Work together to promote the concept, meet with potential funders and prepare and submit proposals
The initiative will facilitate unprecedented engagement and consultation among experts and decision-makers on this topic. Research and recommendations will be grounded in local knowledge with a handpicked team of experts and advisors inside and outside the region including: the water-energy nexus and reconstruction specialists at the Issam Fares Institute, Lebanon, multilateral development bank practitioners and construction, urban planning and civil engineering expertise accessed through the MENA country chapters of the WorldGBC.
Mohammad Asfour, Head of WorldGBC’s MENA Regional Network said:
“We are delighted to commence this partnership between the WorldGBC MENA Region and Chatham House. This collaboration will lay the essential groundwork for a regional agenda for sustainable recovery and reconstruction in which the re-built environment contributes to healthy, resource-secure and climate-resilient societies.”
Glada Lahn, Senior Research Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources at Chatham House said:
“Rebuilding to meet the needs of societies recovering from conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa is a momentous international challenge. But it also presents an opportunity to increase water and energy security and improve resilience to climate change across the region, thus fostering peace and development. We look forward to working together to achieve these goals.”
The project will partner with practitioners working on the ground on recovery and reconstruction including UN Habitat, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent and local municipalities to ensure that the project draws on first-hand knowledge and has practical application.
The signing ceremony at Chatham House, London UK; 5 December 2018
Notes to Editors
About the World Green Building Council
The World Green Building Council is a global network of Green Building Councils that is transforming the places where we live, work, play, heal and learn.
The goal is to help reduce the building and construction sector’s CO2 emissions by 84 gigatonnes and ensure all buildings have net zero emissions by 2050.
We believe green buildings can and must be at the centre of our lives. Our changing climate means we must reshape the way we grow and build, enabling people to thrive both today and tomorrow.
We take action – championing local and global leadership and empowering our community to drive change. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts, and commit to green buildings for everyone, everywhere. www.worldgbc.org
Angela Howarth, Marketing Communications Director at the World Green Building Council
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About Chatham House
Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a world-leading policy institute based in London. Our mission is to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.
We engage governments, the private sector, civil society and our members in open debate and private discussions about the most significant developments in international affairs. Each year, the institute runs more than 300 private and public events – conferences, workshops and roundtables – in London and internationally with partners. Our convening power attracts world leaders and the best analysts in their respective fields from across the globe.
Our research work focuses on independent and rigorous analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities.
UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) 2018: ‘Experts discuss post-conflict reconstruction policies after political agreement in Syria’, 7 August 2018, online https://www.unescwa.org/news/syrian-experts-discuss-post-conflict-reconstruction-policies-after-political-agreement-syria)
World Bank (2018), Iraq Reconstruction and Investment, Part 2 Damage and Needs Assessment of Affected Governorates, The World Bank Group, Washington DC, online http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/600181520000498420/Iraq-Reconstruction-and-investment-volume-two-damage-and-needs-assessment-of-affected-governorates)
World Bank (2016), Yemen, Crisis Assessment Series. The World Bank Group, Washington DC. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/356891495770515127/Yemen-Republic-of-Crisis-assessment-series)
World Bank (2018): ‘Reconstructing Gaza: Donor Pledges’, online http://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/rebuilding-gaza-donor-pledges).
 United Nations experts estimate that the war has caused damage to the value of around $388billion in Syria (UN ESCWA 2018), for Iraq, $88.2billion (World Bank estimate 2018), for Yemen, $4 – 5billion – (World Bank estimate for 2015) this will now be higher; and for Gaza, $3.5billion was pledged for reconstruction in 2014, 54 percent of which had been disbursed as of March 2018 (World Bank 2018). References at the end of this document. Estimates for Libya vary between $10bn for Benghazi to around $100bn for all infrastructure and housing.