The World Bank – A Partner for City-Port Projects: An Interview with Marc Juhel, Sector Manager for Transport

Published by  22 February, 2013 10:56 am Leave your thoughts

The World Bank is one of the specialized institutions developed under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). The World Bank is an essential partner for port cities in helping them to implement their projects, but its strategy and work in the development of city-port projects still sometimes go unrecognized. In order to find out more, the AIVP interviewed Marc Juhel at the Bank’s headquarters in Washington.

AIVP: The World Bank has on many occasions shown interest in the work of AIVP in improving the city-port dynamic. In what ways does AIVP’s work coincide with the current concerns and the strategic transport and urban development objectives of the World Bank?

M.J: More than half of the world’s population already lives in urban areas, and the great majority of growth envisaged over the 21st century will take place in the cities of poor, developing countries. The urban agenda must, therefore, form a critical focus for any modern sustainable development policy. At the same time, helping these countries to emerge from chronic poverty requires enabling them to emerge with strong growth. This is the only way to generate the necessary economic benefits. This growth will come largely from increased international exchange of goods, foreign trade and access to global markets: the most important aspects of economic development policies. 90% of trade is still carried out by sea, and this is where urban and transport policies come together. Port cities are now not only national platforms for commerce, but often also regional and international ones. The city-port dynamic must, therefore, reconcile the demands of balanced urban development with those of a logistics industry still looking to optimize transport flows in terms of time and expense. This sometimes leads to approaches that conflict with good use of space, and to the need to arbitrate these conflicts in favor of the aims of the city and the country as a whole. The World Bank, when it is able, advises its client countries and their port cities on how to best carry out this arbitration.

AIVP: Has the need for urban integration of ports, both spatial and functional, become an important criterion for the awarding of World Bank loans?

M.J: The Bank is keen to stress the importance of this spatial and functional integration, which sometimes requires the physical separation of urban and port traffic flows, but also often offers the opportunity to bring to light the complementarity of port and urban policies, particularly during port extension operations and the updating of economically obsolete infrastructure. As a result, when the Bank is approached in the context of an urban or port development project in a port city, our teams are careful to ensure that this interface, and the issues it can give rise to, are fully discussed.

AIVP: Which port city operations in receipt World Bank loans are, in your opinion, particularly symbolic in this regard? Why are they notable?

M.J: The Rijeka* project in Croatia is a recent example of a port operation which integrates opportunities both for urban redevelopment and for the enhancement of maritime heritage in coastal urban areas. More ambitious, perhaps, is the Port Cities Development Program Project for the Republic of Yemen which aimed to improve the investment climate whilst encouraging growth and job creation in the three port cities of Aden, Hodeidah and Mukalla. This program, spanning twelve years, started with small-scale investment in infrastructure, followed by the designing of City Development Strategies for each of the three port cities. Later came more specific projects, such as the First and Second Port Cities Development Projects of Yemen, which helped to implement the actions identified in the Development Strategies.

AIVP: The issue of “sustainable” and “livable” cities is on the World Bank’s agenda. In this context, what kind of initiatives do you think can be promoted in the area of city-port cooperation?

M.J: To make cities more economically efficient and more socially inclusive: this is the main aim in terms of development and the fight against poverty. This task should be seen within the larger framework that the World Bank defines as Green Growth for All. Cities in general, and port cities in particular, are important vehicles for economic growth. As ports are such key instruments for international trade, the cities that harbor them therefore find themselves at the forefront of global competition for access to new markets. International financial institutions, when assisting the port cities of their client countries, must ensure that the needs of ports in the international logistics chain are effectively balanced with the needs of cities striving for socially balanced development. This is the approach of the World Bank.

*The port and the city of Rijeka are active members of the AIVP.

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