Manchester Briefing #22 – Cities for a Resilient Recovery: International lessons on recovery from COVID-19

Featured image of the Manchester Briefing blog produced by the University of Manchester and Resilient Cities Network as part of the Cities for a Resilient Recovery program, International lessons on recovery from COVID-19.
Written by Resilient Cities Network
Thursday, 17 December 2020


Bi-weekly Manchester Briefing #22 (17 December 2020)

This week, we consider how community conversations, protecting jobs, and the Sustainable Development Goals can play a key role in response and recovery from COVID-19.

International Lessons

  • Challenges with remote health care services
  • Supporting community conversations on COVID-19
  • Utilising the SDGs for recovery and renewal
  • Sustainable models for protecting jobs and promoting employment through recovery
  • Tackling transport related climate change issues at a local level
  • Developing a record of lessons learnt from COVID-19

Useful Webinars

Please note The Manchester Briefing will resume mid-January after the holiday break.


Health and Wellbeing: Everyone living and working in the city has access to what they need to survive and thrive

Consider the challenges faced by remote health care services during COVID-19. Primary health care workers providing care in remote areas have faced challenges during COVID-19 including inaccessibility to locales, poor hospital infrastructure and facilities, and meeting the needs of vulnerable communities. In Australia, remote health services also face challenges in maintaining adequate appointment and retention of healthcare workers. Consider how to protect remote healthcare staff and remote communities, for example:

  • Be mindful of competition between remote and metropolitan areas for staff and resources during COVID‐19
  • Consider the reliance of remote health services on short‐term or fly‐in, fly‐out/drive‐in, drive‐out staff, and the increased risk of transmission into remote areas
  • Ensure there are adequate pointofcare COVID-19 testing sites in remote communities to avoid unnecessary travel to centralised locations and to reduce delays in test results
  • Consider distribution and storage challenges in maintaining adequate stocks of PPE. Remote health service may also benefit from stocks of hygiene products to distribute to community households through remote health services
  • Ensure remote health services are meeting regularly with other essential services e.g. police, schools, and hospitals locally and regionally, to develop local plans for concurrent emergencies in isolated areas
  • Ensure the availability of an adequate, appropriately trained local workforce, especially for outbreaks in healthcare buildings
  • Consider heightened costs for accommodation for remote healthcare workers due to staffing constraints or COVID-related isolation
  • Consider staff burnout due to impact of insufficient staff, frequent orientation of new staff, concerns about the clinical and cultural competency of incoming short‐term staff and continuity of care


Economy and Society: The social & financial systems that enable urban populations to live peacefully, and act collectively

Consider developing guides on how to support community conversations about the impacts of, and renewal from, COVID-19. The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) has published a ‘how to’ guide that outlines how to organise a Citizen’s Assembly, to discuss and understand the impacts of COVID-19.  A Citizens’ Assembly is a representative group of citizens who are selected at random from the population to learn about, deliberate upon, and make recommendations in relation to a particular issue or set of issues. The RSA has also launched a ‘Future Change Framework’ which can work conjointly with a Citizen’s Assembly to support community conversations about the impact of COVID-19, recovery and renewal, transition to a post-COVID world, and support communities to heal. The framework includes ways to consider:

  • How people have responded to Covid-19 and how that can drive positive change
  • What communities and individuals have stopped doing, paused, put in place temporarily, and innovative strategies which could be continued
  • How to evaluate the next steps and actions for the future for organisations, local communities, teams, or networks


Consider sustainable models for protecting jobs and promoting employment for recovery and renewal from COVID-19. A key model (followed by many countries) to help protect jobs, workers and the economy has emphasised job retention through wage subsidies, layoff restrictions, and short-term compensation schemes. In Greece, initial data suggests that job retention was an effective means of reducing large-scale unemployment – and that additional work is needed to create new jobs. This suggest that strategies to protect jobs should also consider proactive policies to enhance employment possibilities for unemployed and otherwise vulnerable workers to avoid long-term chronic unemployment. Consider:

  • Investing in training designed for a ‘post-COVID-19’ labour market e.g., focusing on upskilling in technical and internet-based skills
  • Investing in infrastructure in organisations to support new types of jobs and ensure funds are allocated to ensure employees have adequate resources for the job (e.g., hardware and adequate internet access)
  • Allocate funding to improve technical systems for effective job search and job matching, alongside relevant skills training for the new job
  • Utilise learning from the pandemic about technology adoption and innovation, the digital divide, and the impact this can have on access to employment and ability to undertake work at home or online


Infrastructure and Environment: The man-made and natural systems that provide critical services, and protect and connect urban assets, enabling the flow of goods, services, and knowledge

Consider how to tackle transport related climate change issues at a local level. Recent research in the UK suggests that people are planning to drive more in future than they did before the coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact many people accept human responsibility for the climate crisis. The preference to travel by car is likely the result of people feeling unsafe on public transport because of COVID, reduced public transport services, and a lack of trust in services. To encourage tangible action on climate change for recovery and renewal from COVID-19, localised climate policies for transport can consider:

  • Limit and reduce measures to increase road capacity as research suggests new road capacity encourages more traffic and increased emissions
  • Introducing low emission zones and/or congestion charging areas – the funds from these can be used to subsidise public transport
  • Invest in rapid transition to electric vehicles for public services e.g. public transport, waste removal, and for vehicles that are required to be used by council staff (a ‘grey fleet’ of vehicles used by staff but not owned by the council)
  • Build reduced car use into local plans to consider quality walking and cycling routes, and the provision of transport and delivery hubs to enable the use of cargo bikes and similar for deliveries
  • Require that all taxis are electric vehicles through licensing regulations


Leadership and Strategy: The processes that promote effective leadership, inclusive decision-making, empowered stakeholders, and integrated planning

Consider how to utilise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a foundation for economic recovery and renewal. The SDGs represent the world’s agreed economic, social, and environmental targets for 2030, and can act as a common scorecard to ensure there are objective standards for assessing progress. Localising the ambition of the SDGs to develop local economic development strategies can help integrate social and environmental standards within local economic agendas, reduce disparities between regions, generate local business opportunities and jobs, and aim to include all marginalized communities. Consider how the SDG framework can support inclusive and diversified economic growth:

  • Integrate SDG targets into on-going budget reviews process, thereby improving resource allocation and performance evaluation
  • Examine the link between ongoing public policies, the SDG targets and budget expenditures
  • Analyse the official indicators related to budget-planning instruments
  • Partner with the private sector to launch impact investment initiatives that address the SDGs, recovery and renewal from COVID-19 and sustainable economic renewal


Consider encouraging organisations to develop a record of lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Time is a main barrier to learning lessons and implementing actions from those lessons. However, learning lessons while an event is still unfolding provides contemporaneous thinking to help guide actions. Organisations or all sorts can identify and learn their own lessons, feeding into industry/association calls for learning. Consider:

  • Appointing someone to identify lessons during events
  • Maintaining an up-to-date log of lessons to capture learning and support institutional memory
  • Using the log of lessons dynamically and reflectively to assess performance and guide debriefs
  • Coordinating the lessons learned across an area or industry to pool learning for greater effect, to bring the system together to share context specific learning through:
  • Holding workshops and industry seminars
  • Liaising with academic institutions, networks/associations, and business centres
  • Promoting information widely through various media e.g., online and in print

Guidance on collating lessons to assess performance and processes for debriefing can be found in previous briefings, including 18 and 14.



Key webinars on how cities are building resilience in the face of the pandemic and other shocks & stresses.

Date Webinar Title (Click to register or to access materials)
30 NovemberResilient Cities and the World Bank – Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series: Climate Change Governance
30 NovemberRTPI – COVID19 planning system changes and the historic environment
01 DecemberUNDRR – Responding to dual challenges of climate-induced disaster and COVID-19 pandemic
16 DecemberIHPO – When Systems Fail: Covid-19, NHS acute hospitals and public health
16 DecemberUsher Institute – Addressing COVID-19 in Pakistan and Bangladesh: Public health interventions, policy response and new research findings

Produced by The University of Manchester, UK (Professor Duncan Shaw, Dr Jennifer Bealt) in partnership with the Resilient Cities Network (Femke Gubbels)

What is the weekly briefing on Cities for a Resilient Recovery?

Each week the University of Manchester brings together relevant international practices and examples on recovery from COVID-19. The weekly briefing is curated by the Resilient Cities Network to bring key lessons and examples targeted for resilience officers, emergency planners and other city practitioners. The structure of the briefing follows the City Resilience Framework – specifically the four drivers that cities have identified as mattering the most when a city faces chronic stresses or sudden shocks – Health & Wellbeing, Economy & Society; Infrastructure & Environment; and Leadership & Strategy. 

For more international examples please register @

If you would be willing to contribute your knowledge to this briefing series (via a 30-minute interview) please contact

Download the Manchester Briefing #22

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