Last 24, 25 and 26 April, the third International Forum Medinas was held in Tangier (Morocco), under the topic “Heritage: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development”. The event was organized by the Municipality of Tangier and the Mediterranean Network of Medinas, in collaboration with MedCites.

During the opening session, the Mayor of Tangier, Mr. Fouad el Omari, and the Mayor of Chauen, Mr. Mohamed Sefiani, who is also president of the Mediterranean Network of Medinas, stressed the importance of the role of heritage conservation, in particular the conservation of medinas, as the driving force of sustainable development.

Currently, the main problems that the Medinas are facing are the growing density of population, the lack of urban planning, housing in poor condition and lack of facilities. Medinas should be considered as urban models where social, economic and cultural factors converge to face the challenge of being integrated in cities and encourage neighborhood life and struggle to end marginalization.

Mr. Joan Parpal, the General Secretary of MedCities,  was the moderator of the workshop “What future for heritage areas in a state of crisis” in which participants from different African countries raised the possibility to restore monuments that had been completely destroyed due to vandalism or occupations.

Mr. Mokhtar James, Mayor of Djerba city member of MedCities,  emphasized the need for respecting the heritage considering the special characteristics of each zone, referring specifically to his city which is located on an island.

Ms. Carme Gual, Director of Urban Hab of the Barcelona City Council, spoke about the growing problems caused by the massive increase of tourism that is facing the city center of Barcelona. This situation is difficulting more and more the life of locals. Ms. Gual also pointed out the need to create joint ventures to manage the recovery of historic centers, as it was done on the occasion of the Barcelona Olympics 92.

Another aspect that was stressed during the Forum was the necessary collaboration between cities from the North and South to develop cross-border cooperation projects.