Over the past decades, sustainable urban development matters have been the focus of the Kingdom of Bahrain, as these challenges formed a fertile ground for research and discussion at various levels of decision-making bodies, which resulted in many national initiatives in planning for housing, infrastructure, open spaces, transport and communication, energy consumption, and waste recycling. Not to mention that Bahrain has a rich experience in dealing with the spatial variable by organising places through urban planning and urban development, in line with its international commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, Paris Agreement to tackle climate change, Sendai Framework for risk and disaster reduction, and the New Urban Agenda. These commitments formed the reference for the Kingdom’s orientations towards urban prosperity, social inclusion, sustainability, and resilience.
Stakeholder Partnership and Commitments
Work on this report included great cooperation and concerted efforts from many governmental and official agencies in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which included ministries, official bodies and councils, in addition to municipal councils, civil society institutions and Bahrain Studies Center at the University of Bahrain, which as a whole constituted an example of partnership in work for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
Moreover, Team Bahrain communicated with official and international bodies that are directly related to the preparation of the national report and worked permanently and continuously to provide support and advice from experts concerned with the New Urban Agenda, such as the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC), the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Office of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in the Gulf Cooperation Council - State of Kuwait, and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
Innovative approaches to COVID-19 response
Upon the great challenge that faced the world during the past period, due to the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its repercussions on societies, the Kingdom of Bahrain launched a financial package that exceeded 4.5 billion Bahraini Dinars (USD 11.9 billion) to support the economic and commercial sectors in the country and limit the repercussions of the global spread of the virus. The government took a number of rapid measures to confront the pandemic, including exempting consumers from paying electricity and water bills; the citizens were exempted from paying the electricity and water bills for the first main house from April to December 2020, while the rest of the country, including all residents and businesses, were exempted from paying the electricity and water bills for 3 months; April - June 2020, as well as stopping and postponing the payment of loan instalments while raising the lending capacity of banks to about 3.7 billion Bahraini Dinars to postpone instalments or to provide additional financing to customers. Also, the government ensured the payment of the salaries of all insured Bahrainis working in the private sector at 100% for a period of three months, and 50% of Bahrainis’ salaries working in private sector enterprises whose business and resources have been affected by the negative repercussions of the pandemic for another nine months during the Year 2020.