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Accueil du site > Equipes de Recherche > Outils pour une gestion durable du foncier et de l’environnement urbain dans un contexte de transition politique. Municipalités de Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, Palestine. > Problem, objectives, contexts and challenges

Policy Tools towards Sustainable Land Use and Urban Environmental Management under a Transitional Political Context

Problem, objectives, contexts and challenges

This project was designed as a pilot study of the policies needed to implement national urban and environmental policies at the municipal level through public participation and the integration of sustainable development concepts. Our team observed the interaction between population, urban development and the environment with special emphasis given to demographic factors, land use and the urban environment.

The target area of the study is the urban area of Bethlehem Governorate. It consists of the cities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour where 34% of the Governorate’s population lives. The three refugee camps (Ayda, Al Aza and Ad Duheisha) make up for 13% of the population and the remaining 58% account for the rural population.

The salient demographic features of the study area are its explosive population growth rate (32% from 1997 to 2005 – PCBS) and the resultant population density reached 3919 person/km² in 2005. Given the ongoing political tensions, access to open land is limited and therefore the situation increasingly difficult. It is therefore crucial to assess the capacity of the current infrastructure and services in the Bethlehem urban area to meet the demands of the population and to assess the needs for the coming years and to demonstrate to the decision makers at the local level the importance of taking the population distribution histogram into consideration.

Policies have been formulated at the national level to ensure the sustainable use of resources and to direct urban development but, these have never been implemented at the local level. The project also proposed ways of enhancing the role of the local residents, mostly the Palestinians, in decision-making and capacity building given the clear linkages between indices of environment, population, and poverty, and their impact on the sustainability of natural resources : the poor are considered both victims and agents of environmental damage. At the policy level, the population-environment link has to be realized at an early stage if the long-term impact would be poverty alleviation therefore the core question of this project has always been : Can Bethlehem District become sustainable ? If so, what type of environmental instruments and demographic interventions, and policies can be proposed and implemented for sustainable urban development ?