The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it crystal clear that there is a critical need to fill the knowledge gaps regarding how to govern “in emergency mode”. Responding to the crisis has entailed taking radical policy decisions at an unprecedent speed, in order to ensure the safety of populations worldwide. Nevertheless, the current health crisis is by no means the only crisis threatening our societies. Other “slower” emergencies equally pose our cities and territories at risk, such as the climate emergency and the global housing crisis. Consequently, learning how to address these will be determinant to ensure there is a safeguarded future for the generations to come.
In order to promote this learning process, UCLG, LSE Cities and Metropolis have jointly launched the Emergency Governance Initiative for Cities and Regions (EGI), with the aim of providing city and regional governments with actionable information, suitable frameworks, knowledge and resources to navigate the new demands of leading emergency responses. To do so, the EGI regularly publishes Analytics Notes, whose object is to collect and analyse governance information, as well as quarterly Policy Briefs, focused on providing propositional commentary on reform agendas and governance innovations.
This week marks the launch of the second of such Analytics Notes and the first Policy Brief, which come at a critical time in which the reopening of economies and the outbreak of the virus’ second wave of contagion stress the urgency to reflect on governance reforms for the recovery. While the Analytics Note collates and analyses governance information on responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the Policy Brief focuses on understanding what are the existing knowledge gaps and identifies the main policy innovations and challenges that have arisen so far from a propositional perspective.
With such aim, the Policy Brief provides a global overview of COVID-19 and the urban governance response. It builds on the monitoring work undertaken for the elaboration of the first Analytics Note in June 2020 and the #BeyondtheOutbreak Live Learning Experiences. It also accommodates an analysis of the almost 60 responses of local and regional governments to a scoping survey circulated by the EGI – aimed at providing an insightful overview of policy innovations, challenges and gaps identified to date by local and regional governments themselves.
The Policy Brief further provides an analysis of the concrete policy innovations advanced by four cities in particular: Barcelona, Bogotá, Gauteng and Seoul. It features city profiles elaborated thanks to the direct engagement of such cities through interviews and follow-up consultations. It extracts the lessons that can be learnt from these four cities’ initiatives in the concrete policy dimensions of cooperation and collaboration between stakeholders; communication and consultation; coordination and integration; and information technology and data management – dimensions that have proven to be key to emergency governance. The Policy Brief complements this analysis with a thought-provoking commentary on “urban sovereignty in the time of pandemics” provided by Diane Davis of Harvard University and Graham Denyer Willis of Cambridge University.
With these new publications, the EGI thus positions itself as a well-rounded, actionable tool based on collective learning for local and regional governments, international organizations, CSOs and the private sector to respond to these difficult times in a way that leaves no one and no territory behind.