Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series
#16 – Co-Designing a Resilient Recovery in Cities
The sixteenth edition of Cities on the Frontline Series discussed the importance of prioritizing a resilient green recovery in cities as they face the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The pandemic has challenged the economic, environmental and social systems around the world in unprecedented ways, exposing new vulnerabilities while compounding underlying stresses. Felix Döhler, co-host of this session and Head of Component, Urban Development at the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), expressed during the session, cities must take recovery as a singular opportunity to transform and to create a double dividend of tackling short term response measures to Covid-19 while orienting the economic reconstruction in a sustainable way.
Soo-Jin Kim, Head of Urban Policies and Reviews Unit at OECD, began the conversation by emphasizing that the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated recovery is extremely uneven as the crisis hits cities in an asymmetrical way. However, she expressed there is hope since even when the crisis unveiled weak points and inequalities, it also resulted in as acceleration of major transitions that were already underway towards smarter, greener and more inclusive cities due to the urgent need to build more resilient systems in preparation for future shocks and stresses. She ended her intervention by acknowledging that while we are moving in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to be done and the key targets will not be reached without proper engagement and coordination with local and regional governments.
Dr. Andrew Mcclelland, Research Associate at The University of Manchester continued the discussion, by sharing an overview of the main lessons and findings from Manchester Briefings on Covid-19 in partnership with the Resilient Cities Network, and the development of a Recovery Framework focused mostly on local governments and local agencies around the world. Some of the mostsignificant lessons identified in this work include, considering how to invest in a circular economy to promote healthier, more resilient cities and consider new funding models to increase city recovery and resilience.
Ilaria Giuliani Deputy Chief Resilience Officer, Environmental Transition Department, Milan Municipality, discussed Milan’s experience dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the efforts that have been undertaken to overcome this. They have focused their efforts on predicting the post-emergency phase in order to mitigate the effects and disruptions of the “after” phase while at the same time, thinking about the long run and more specifically of what can be learned from this experience and how the city can build resilience towards future epidemic shocks. One of the key actions that Milan has taken is publishing a Milano 2020 Adaptation Strategy that was informed by other already existing city strategies as a starting point to reconsider and reframe real actions to face the pandemic with a wholistic approach. The five transversal objectives that Milan has focused on include equity, accessibility, re-naturalization, decarbonization and active participation.
Nazmul Huq, Head of the Resilient Development Programmeat ICLEI wrapped up the session by sharing some of the work ICLEI has done to lead resilient recoveries around the world. For instance, he discussed the work done in Rwanda as part of the ReCAP21 program in partnership with the Resilient Cites Network andthe Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), where they are implementing solar street lights in front of health centers for enhanced safety and security at night adding green recovery and resilient benefits. He also shared some key targets that cities must focus on in order to construct climate resilience and a green recovery including: aligning local and global resilience goals, reaching zero vulnerability, collecting local metrics of resilience (contextual understanding) and improving monitoring, reporting and adjustment. Finally, he emphasized the importance of bringing these local lessons to a global level to scale the impact and create a global effort towards better adaptation and resilience.