Metropolisation at the heart of the debate

Concentration of populations, activities, wealth creation, value in large cities, metropolisation was at the heart of the debate during the webinar organizedthis Tuesday, December 6, by the CDG Group Institute.

The virtual meeting saw the participation of important specialist speakers in the field, such as Chaymae Belouali, specialist in urban development at the World Bank, Nicolas Maisetti, director of the POPSU Métropoles Europe program for architectural and urban projects, Aziz Iraki, research professor at the National Institute for Planning and Urbanism in Rabat, Houssam Oubbad, Director of Regional Development, Casablanca-Settat region and was moderated by Aziz Boucetta, publication director of the information portal PanoraPost.com.

The panelists, through very interesting exchanges, shared the various levers and approaches to be implemented allowing the success of this urban sprawl and its proper structuring aimed at making metropolitan cities a real engine of growth and a comfortable environment for its inhabitants. .

Responding to the question “Metropolis, metropolisation, metropolitan policy, how to define these concepts?”, Aziz Iraki, research professor at the National Institute for Planning and Urban Planning in Rabat, opens the debate by explaining that we “can say that when we talk about a metropolis, we are always talking about a concentration of financial and political powers…generally in a big city. The metropolitan area which is linked to globalization is an area which is very reticular”.

He noted that the great problem of metropolisation”is the problem of all the relocations that are made from a mother city. There are industrial relocations, the rehousing of slum dwellers, the deployment of non-regulatory housing, gated residences that come out to the outskirts. We find ourselves in a metropolitan area that brings together all these activities and its new residences”.

For Nicolas Maisetti, director of the POPSU Métropoles Europe program for architectural and urban projects, “we often tend to distinguish three dimensions of the metropolis, which then makes it possible to apprehend metropolisation a little differently and to distinguish it from metropolitan policies. One of the dimensions is a politico-institutional definition of the metropolis, which is a legal form of inter-municipal cooperation between a central city and neighboring territories and communities. The metropolis is also a national development policy”.

In an effort to share his experience, Maisetti followed up his response by breaking down the method that the POPSU program has adopted, which he called ” action-research on metropolitan facts and policies” , it is ” produce knowledge on the territories, on their mutation and on their trajectory. These are research teams that are at the heart of this system and since it is a research-action program, this knowledge is not produced for itself but for action purposes to enlighten the action of decision-makers. and to be useful for public debate “.

The second pillar of the program is to intensify the links between practitioners, elected officials, community services and territorial policy operators as well as researchers » and the third element is that « the POPSU program is based on the case study“, he adds.

With regard to the Casablanca-Settat region, Houssam Oubbad, Director of Regional Development, Casablanca-Settat region, intervened to specify that through the diagnosis that was made through the basic strategic document, either the regional plan for land use planning and which focused on the metropolis among other subjects, “it was detected that the Casablanca metropolitan area had strengths but at the same time presented shortcomings and blocking factors that delayed the completion of the metropolisation process” and added that the main factors are represented by “the absence of a metropolitan governance body”, “weak convergence between public policies and strategies”, “the weakness of activities with high added value”, “the explosion of the informal sector”, “poverty and unemployment”, “the predominance of rural culture”, “environmental degradation”…

Reacting to the first interventions, Chaymae Belouali, urban development specialist at the World Bank, says that today ” the observation is shared and established. The bank and other partners have already carried out major reviews of urbanization in Morocco which come out with clear findings. We are in a country where we have a strong urbanization dynamic with cities that allow about 60% of the population. The same in terms of economic receptacles, I think that 75% of the GDP is produced by the big Moroccan cities, as well as 60% of the jobs… It is clearly an urbanization which is double with obvious economic opportunities but also challenges in terms of disparities, articulation between the center and the peripheries, the functions and the level of service. Urbanization today does not produce the economic knowledge that is expected compared to countries at a similar level“.

The countries at a similar level that have achieved this economic growth in parallel with urbanization are countries that have opted for differentiated policies, territorial policies and I think that is really the heart, at the same time, of the regionalization process advanced and which has been confirmed in the case of the new development model where the action is truly territorial. The role of local governments or regional councils and municipalities is clear since we know today the challenges facing municipalities. We must move from a dynamic of guardianship to a dynamic of support and accompaniment to communities, ” says Belouali.

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