Expertise division :

Supporting Mediterranean project owners in their urban and territorial development projects


Within the framework of its cooperation partnerships, the Agency for Sustainable Mediterranean Cities and Territories supports Mediterranean project owners in their urban and territorial development actions with the objective of designing and producing more resilient, more inclusive, more economical and sustainable cities and territories of tomorrow in a renewed relationship with ecological, economic and social balances.


Among the major issues in this area of intervention are the imperatives that AVITEM addresses in an integrated approach The projects can be of different territorial scales – from the neighbourhood to the metropolis – and of different natures : strategic planning and territory project, urban renewal, urban extension…


At the various stages of the project, from the design stage to operational implementation, AVITEM plays a role in supporting and advising the project owners. It designs and leads consultation forums with local stakeholders – institutional, economic, international, citizens or associations – and seeks to create the conditions for mobilizing financiers, both private investors and international donors.


An agile approach based on co-construction, essential for building resilient territories


AVITEM is convinced that the resilience of territories lies not only in the specific development and planning actions that they deploy, but also in their systems of action, their social organization and their mode of governance. Thus, it promotes a renewed approach to urban development, both integrated and sustainable, but also agile and participatory.


AVITEM favours consultation and involvement of all potential stakeholders in the project at the various stages of its development. From co-design to co-production, this participative approach appears to be a sine qua non condition. It is justified both by the necessary democratization of urban action and its recognized beneficial effects on territorial cohesion, and by the strength that the creation of synergies between actors and the convergence towards common ambitions give to the project. 


Furthermore, AVITEM prefers an iterative and agile method, based on an in itinere evaluation of the project process and on a continuous dialogue with local actors, in order to be able to reorientate the project, rather than a linear approach following the sequence of diagnosis/guidance/program. This approach makes the choice of the scenario to think the development of the territory, in order to be reactive and in phase with its opportunities and its evolutions in the long time.


Thus, the medium and long-term planning exercise no longer appears to be contradictory to the reflection on concrete and immediate solutions. AVITEM’s approach links the elements of the diagnosis and the main orientations that should guide development with short and medium-term operational interventions, in order to support the implementation of projects that are driving territorial transformation.

Current projects :


” Bourj Hammoud 2021-2031   : cooperation with the Municipality of Bourj Hammoud for the production of a Strategic Urban Renewal Plan


 ” Bourj Hammoud 2021-2031 is a decentralized cooperation project initiated by the Municipality of Bourj Hammoud and supported by the Delegation for the External Action of French Communities (DAECT) and French local authorities : the South Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Region and the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis. The Agency for Sustainable Mediterranean Cities and Territories is leading the project and coordinating the project management. She brings her methodological and technical expertise to the project, in association with two expert architects-urbanists, Amine Benaissa and Bruno Marot. The Lebanese University and the American University of Beirut are also partners, organizing university workshops and bringing their detailed knowledge of the territory’s development issues.


Bourj Hammoud is a residential and popular community of 180 000 inhabitants, located in a densely populated suburb close to the capital. It stands out in the Greater Beirut area because of its dense productive and creative economy and its unique history, from which its Armenian identity stems. The city was founded by Armenian refugees at the beginning of the twentieth century who fled the Ottoman Empire. They created many shops, workshops for craftsmen and artists, theaters, giving life to an intangible heritage and a rich commercial activity, which has long endured in Bourj Hammoud and forged its reputation in Lebanon. The commune has also welcomed many waves of immigrants – Palestinians, Syrians and others – making up a real cultural mosaic today. However, as a peripheral city of the Beirut metropolis, Bourj Hammoud has been for a long time a place where environmental nuisances are transferred: vast metropolitan landfill, highways, polluting industrial zone… 

Bourj Hammoud. Credits: Municipality of Bourj Hammoud

With its full title “Bourj Hammoud 2021-2031 : Together for a better present and future “, this cooperation project aims to produce an integrated strategic urban renewal plan for the territory of Bourj Hammoud, which is currently facing numerous development, environmental and social challenges. These have been reinforced by the severe economic crisis in Lebanon and the explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, which hit the city hard.

By designing a Strategic Plan for urban renewal, the “Bourj Hammoud 2021-2031” project aims to to confer common ambitions and a framework of coherence to the interventions carried out on the territory, by associating immediate responses to emergencies and long-term planning. On the will of the city’s elected officials, the project is placed under the sign of a double imperative: the ecological transition and the restoration of social cohesion. The methodological principles of the approach are the association of civil society at all stages of the project’s co-construction, and the dual requirement of a long-term vision and a very short term operationality, in view of present needs.

Some fields of intervention are priorities: the local production of renewable energy, the rehabilitation of the old city center in an integrated approach, combining interventions on housing, shops and public spaces, a sustainable management of waste associated with the development of the circular economy, and the management of wastewater through renaturation solutions.

The project began with a first phase – the Workshop (2021-2022) – during which the local actors were mobilized and the main orientations defined. A document, the Preliminary Draft of the Strategic Plan, summarizes the work accomplished. It was nourished by expert exchanges, university workshops and co-construction workshops with local stakeholders, for each priority commitment as well as for the overall approach.

Workshops with civil society actors organized in Bourj Hammoud in February 2022.

A second phase – the Factory (2022-2025) – will allow for the finalization and operational realization of the Strategic Plan. The initial partners have been joined by new actors – the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis and UN agencies, who support the Strategic Plan initiative.


Resources :

      Project Vademecum

      Synthesis of the workshops of the Open Forum, in Bourj Hammoud, Lebanon :

o  Strategic Plan

o  Rehabilitation of the Old City

o  Sustainable waste management

o  Decentralized production of renewable energy


      Expert webinar reports :

o  Circular resource management : governance and infrastructure.

o  The Circular Economy from below : involvement of the population and the informal sector.

o  Rehabilitation of old city centers according to an integrated approach : feedback from France and Lebanon.



Organization of an international consultation for the development of a new sustainable urban center on the banks of the northern lake of Tunis


The Agency for Sustainable Mediterranean Cities and Territories is assisting the semi-public company Al Buhaira Invest for a new phase of the development project of the banks of the North Lake of Tunis on 110 hectares, in direct proximity of the hypercenter and in continuity of the historical districts of the city Tunis.

Aiming at a strategic and valuable site for the regional and Mediterranean influence of Tunisia and its capital, the project owner – the Al Buhaira company – plans a change of approach in the practices of making the urban and is committed to the creation of a territory whose design modes will participate in the ecological, economic and social transitions of the city. The project consists of a vast urban district designed by major public spaces, including the shores of the lake, and composed of multiple activities that will offer new opportunities for housing, work, culture, worship and recreation; a new territory that will make Tunis the productive city of tomorrow, attractive internationally.

AVITEM is in charge of organizing an international consultation to address these issues. It will take the form of a competitive market and will bring together multidisciplinary teams of high-level designers – urban planners, architects, landscape architects, economists, ecologists, etc. – whose urban proposals will serve to open up choices between several scenarios based on contemporary methods of associating institutions and local players. The project that best meets the challenges of Tunis’ transformation and the expectations of Tunisians will be selected. There are many aspirations to see the Lake transformed into an economic and ecological metropolitan engine, a sustainable, inclusive and climate change resilient hub.

Plots A and B of the banks of the North Lake of Tunis. Credits: Al Buhaira Invest.
North Lake Shore. Credits: Al Buhaira Invest.

Participatory Dialogues, organized by AVITEM in 2021, brought together a wide range of actors from Tunisian civil society – business leaders, public actors, academics … Addressing both urban and economic development issues, these Dialogues have resulted in a document, The Lake TomorrowThis is a summary of the visions and expectations that were expressed with regard to this flagship project for the Tunisian capital.

Djibouti Metropolitan Workshop Djibouti metropolitan workshop: accompanying Djibouti’s decision-makers and urban development actors in the face of climate change

The Djibouti Metropolitan Workshop is a decentralized cooperation project led by the South Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Region. AVITEM is the technical coordinator, providing its expertise on metropolitan development and territorial transitions.

The Metropolitan Workshop aims to create forums for dialogue and reflection on the capacity and prospects for transforming Djibouti into a resilient territory, able to cope with climate change and initiate the necessary changes related to it.

The workshop features:

By an interactive approach: it brings together a plurality of stakeholders: the Djiboutian State, the City, private actors in development and land use planning, both local and international, public and private, as well as the inhabitants through the neighborhood committees;

By an interdisciplinary approach, in order to think of an integrated development of Djibouti.

The municipality and its metropolitan area are now facing considerable challenges in achieving sustainable urban development. These challenges are ecological (water stress, shortage of agricultural resources, increasing natural risks, loss of biodiversity…), social (massive exclusion with a high rate of unemployment among young people, important migratory flows of populations weakened by wars in nearby countries, inadequacy of services to the population…) and finally geopolitical (neighboring countries at war, risk of conflicts, dependence on countries that come to invest in an extraterritorial logic…).

However, through the ambition of formulating a common vision for the territory, capable of arousing a collective dynamic towards a multiform transformation at the same time organizational, urban, technological…, this cooperation project aims in some ways to “re-enchant the future”. The challenge of the Metropolitan Workshop is to achieve a development project designed collectively and supported by politicians, in order to provide a framework of consistency to the many public or private, national or international actions taking place on the territory of the City and the metropolitan area of Djibouti.

National and regional and regional actors will participate in this workshop, such as the IRD, the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille, the Canal de Provence and the ADEME network of innovators.

City of Djibouti. Credits: Abass Chirdon.