Sameh Wahba: «Urban resilience is the ability of cities to become stronger»

By  | 2021

Who more relevant than Sameh Wahba to answer what urban resilience is all about and what implications does it have for people and local governments? According to the World Bank’s Global Director of Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice, «Urban resilience is the ability of cities to address shocks and stresses that face them, to adapt to these and become stronger in the way that they provide opportunities and create a livable environment for their population».

Indeed, for Sameh Wahba, resilience is one of the three greatest challenges that cities face in the present, which is related to two global trends that define our world today: rapid urbanization and climate change. At the same time, competitiveness – cities’ ability of creating job opportunities and attracting investments – and inclusion – a phenomenon that, for Sameh Wahba, is intrinsically linked to distortions in land and housing markets – are part of the key challenges that local governments must face in order to offer optimal living conditions for people.

Those three main urban challenges – resilience, inclusion and competitiveness – are what any urban transformation project that seeks to generate a positive impact from an integrated perspective must address. According to Sameh Wahba, an example of this approach is the project carried out by the city of Buenos Aires in its Barrio 31 – with the support of the World Bank –, which has «improved living conditions for a large population that has been living close to the city center but historically shut off from economic opportunities and improved services».

To end our interview, we ask Sameh Wahba about the city that he would like to see in the near future. And his answer is clear: «In 2030, I want to see a city that is less divided, that is more connected, more inclusive, more equal, more diverse», he concludes.


Interview, text and edition by Sergio García i Rodríguez,
Communications Manager at Anteverti & CitiesToBe Executive Editor

Video by Eloy Calvo



🌍 According to @WBG_Cities' Global Director @SamehNWahba, «Urban #resilience is the ability of #cities to address shocks, to adapt to these and become stronger in the way that they provide opportunities.» | via #CitiesToBe & @anteverti Clic para tuitear



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About the authors

Global Director of Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice at the World Bank at World Bank | + posts

Sameh Wahba, an Egyptian national, is the Global Director for the World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice, based in Washington, D.C.

Prior to this, Mr. Wahba served as the Director for Urban and Territorial Development, Disaster Risk Management and Resilience at the World Bank Group’s Social, Urban Rural, and Resilience Global Practice, where he oversaw the formulation of the World Bank’s strategy, design, and delivery of all lending, technical assistance, policy advisory activities, and partnerships at the global level. He also served as Practice Manager for the Urban and Disaster Risk Management unit in Africa and the Global Urban and Resilience Unit, and as Acting Director of Operations and Strategy for the Global Practice.

Prior to joining the World Bank in 2004, he worked at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies in Rotterdam and at the Harvard Center for Urban Development Studies. Mr. Wahba holds a Ph.D. and Master’s degree in urban planning from Harvard University, and a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Architectural Engineering from Cairo University. He speaks Arabic, French, English, and Portuguese.

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