Equitable Cities

Today’s new normal requires models of governance that mitigate risk and respond to evolving challenges.

The Challenge

The compounding impacts of Covid-19 and climate change are shining new light on the deep inequities confronting cities around the world. These include gender, race and economic inequities. One in three urban residents globally are under-served by municipal services (WRI Report Series, Towards a More Equal City). The divide between those who have access to services and those who do not is worsening due to rampant and poorly managed growth. Inequity is also at the center of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has brought worldwide attention to racial violence and disenfranchisement that has existed for centuries in the western world.

Although urbanization has historically gone hand in hand with job creation and growth, the distribution of such gains has been uneven, often marked by striking spatial, social and economic inequalities within cities. This impacts cities’ capacity to respond to and recover from multiple shocks and stresses. More than that, the effects of climate change and natural disasters in cities are felt most by poor and disadvantaged people who are disproportionately people of color, indigenous people, and women who lack access to quality urban services and infrastructure.

Without addressing inequities that have left many behind, it is impossible to build inclusive and resilient cities that are livable and prosperous for all. Real access to opportunities for personal development – including education, public spaces, security, decent housing, healthcare, drinking water and sewerage – are no longer considered optional elements which cities may choose to provide; cities are aware that these are universal requirements which they must provide citizens in order to sustain their development trajectories.

Smart, green and circular investments and policies on resilience can create multiple benefits: helping cities boost their economies and create jobs; improving equity and reducing poverty; and preparing communities for inevitable threats such as those related to climate and public health.

What we do

R-Cities works with member cities to identify and introduce new ways of building cities from an equity perspective. We support cities to prioritize the poor and vulnerable in decision-making and to enhance overall urban resilience through the development of economic opportunities for vulnerable communities, particularly those whose livelihoods depend on small- and medium-sized businesses. We work with cities to enhance digital inclusion and create public spaces that can improve well-being and social cohesion. Through transformational planning approaches we help cities advance equitable delivery of services and infrastructure to build inclusive urban resilience.

News and Resources

A Point of View: Empowering SMEs for Urban Resilience

A Point of View: Empowering SMEs for Urban Resilience

Looking at SMEs through urban resilience lens
Speaker Series 2023 #7 | Urban Mobility: Innovating Through Payments

Speaker Series 2023 #7 | Urban Mobility: Innovating Through Payments

Urban mobility is the backbone of a city, as it enables people to access vital spaces for work, education and leisure. As rapid urbanization continues to intensify pressure on infrastructure and ...
The Green Opportunity of Green Mussels, Jakarta

The Green Opportunity of Green Mussels, Jakarta

The green mussel industry provides a livelihood for the coastal community of Kalibaru in North Jakarta. There are two sides to this reality: the shells pose an environmental challenge to the ...

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