Lessons for Resilience
Consider A journey of developing Resilience: From supporting the system to calling for transformative change
When we volunteered to collect international experiences of responding to COVID-19 in March 2020, we aimed to support local authorities in the UK during their response to the pandemic. We never expected that COVID-19 would evolve into an international crisis of this scale and duration. A few months after the start of the UK response, our systems and societies were stretched and various vulnerabilities were uncovered. The RRR team (and our engagement) grew in response and we identified new theoretical and practical insights on response, recovery, and renewal which were formed into The Manchester Briefing. Concurrently, our engagement with local authorities and international organisations flourished and the RRR project in its complex form was born.
Despite the overwhelming engagement with the response to the pandemic, the need for transformational change to rebuild more resilient systems remained in focus. Two lessons stood out as crucial for resilience and renewal. The first is the need for a holistic approach when building resilience. The pandemic showed the interinfluence and interdependency of all components of societies i.e. individuals, communities, businesses, organisations, and others. For example, we shared case studies from Asia which showed that small but ignored vulnerable areas in the society could cascade into a larger problem for the COVID-19 response, government, and society. The lesson learned was that sustainable and feasible renewal programmes should be inclusive, fair, and holistic. The second lesson was the need to think beyond the existing systemic limitations when designing and managing our resilient systems. From the traditional management and economical perspective, building resilient societies may be ambitious or unrealistic. However, alternative paradigms exist which can facilitate creating a shared and feasible vision of our resilient society, provide innovative solutions to manage the complex endeavour, and make it happen.
This lesson is part of a collection of team reflections from the Recovery, Renewal, Resilience team, shared in the final Manchester Briefing under their ESRC-funded project. The collection of 10 reflections can be found in Issue 51 of The Manchester Briefing, accessible via the link below:
Consider how COVID-19 offered insights into how shared responsibility might work in practice
Over the last 15 years or so, the resilience narrative has evolved in three ways:
1) ‘We’re here to save you’ – a heavy public reliance on assistance and support from official response agencies;
2) ‘We’re prepared are you?’ - the sharing/shifting/transfer of responsibility onto the public that created an expectation of them to enhance their own preparedness and build their own resilience;
3) ‘We’re here to support you’ - the recognition that individuals, groups, organisations and networks in our communities are resilient capabilities and those who can and want to, are capable of both helping themselves and helping others in need with support from official agencies (where requested/appropriate).
As we begin to think about how WoSR might be best designed and implemented, learning from COVID-19 demonstrated that strategic collaborations across societal systems will be central to developing a shared responsibility for WoSR strategy. Strategic collaborations are active and autonomous partnerships where targeted relationships are used to identify demand for support (e.g. vulnerable people, at-risk locations) and understand supply (e.g. with volunteers providing capacity, delivery partners, business partners). Central to these strategic collaborations are clarity and consensus on partner expectations, operational roles and responsibilities, inclusivity, and effective management and coordination e.g. communications.
For shared responsibility to develop within strategic collaborations of WoSR strategy, it is essential to have clear roles for government, emergency response agencies, the voluntary sector, volunteers, businesses and organisations, communities, community groups, and individuals. Shared responsibility should focus on building resilience capabilities through partnerships and networks. It should focus on enablement [i.e. increasing the agency and ability of societal actors to participate and activate] rather than a form of empowerment that might risk a transfer of power/responsibility without knowledge sharing, guidance or support.
This lesson is part of a collection of team reflections from the Recovery, Renewal, Resilience team, shared in the final Manchester Briefing under their ESRC-funded project. The collection of 10 reflections can be found in Issue 51 of The Manchester Briefing, accessible via the link below:
Consider how socio-political context is everything when understanding emergencies and how to deal with them
Across research that considers the socio-political circumstances that underpin global events, disasters are often described as revelatory. Their occurrence exposes structures that organise collective social life but have become so normalised as to be taken for granted. Over the last two and half years, there’s been different ways that COVID-19 has played this revelatory role. The initial spread and disastrous impact of the virus, particularly in those countries worst affected such as USA, Brazil and UK, reinforced how detrimental cutbacks in public spending and the cultivation of mistrust in expertise for political gain has been for disaster preparedness. No doubt owing in part to these factors that shaped it’s unfolding, the pandemic also showed the need for emergencies to be governed in a way that is sensitive to local needs and developed in dialogue with communities whilst also being supported by a strong central government response.
By default, this need concurrently means abandoning ‘models’, ‘disaster management cycles’ and ‘holistic systems’ for practice that promise general applicability but are abstracted from reality. This emphasises the importance of how disasters are labelled, how such labelling effects public conscience of disasters and what effects these levels of consciousness might have for the future of the disaster in question. Despite the decision to end restrictions in the UK and reduce such restrictions in other parts of the world, the pandemic still rages on causing death and illness to thousands every day. This tells us that disasters do not have clear ‘start’ and ‘end’ dates and so we need to plan to mitigate their ongoing effects and develop better anticipatory measures for their future occurrence.
This lesson is part of a collection of team reflections from the Recovery, Renewal, Resilience team, shared in the final Manchester Briefing under their ESRC-funded project. The collection of 10 reflections can be found in Issue 51 of The Manchester Briefing, accessible via the link below:
Consider Intrapreneurial leadership as a key enabler of innovation and agile working
Working with the National Preparedness Commission and partners of NCSR+, we collected case study data on how fifteen community initiatives delivered value to their local communities during COVID-19. Each initiative was unique in design and uncovered rich insights as to how societal resilience was supported by the agility and innovation of local community groups. A distinct finding across the case studies is that intrapreneurial leadership (the leadership of entrepreneurial activity inside of an organisation), emerged as a key enabler of their COVID-19 work.
A particular benefit was that intrapreneurial leadership from within local government enhanced trust in partnership working across different societal systems. The need to build trust with partners to co-produce activities was prioritised – both giving trust to the partner, and receiving trust from the partner. Some examples of how intrapreneurial leadership was characterised in practice and the resulting benefits include:
Consider learning lessons on Recovery now, and for the future
Governance of delivering recovery and renewal
One of the key learning points emerging from the pandemic concerns how it has forced a reappraisal of what recovery encompasses, who it is for, and how it can be effectively planned for and implemented. For example, considering recovery and business continuity planning it was clear from many of the early interviews with recovery experts that however well-prepared organizations felt they were, the scale, scope, uneven impacts, and prolonged duration of COVID-19 were not adequately anticipated. Enhancing preparedness and wider societal resiliency for the complex and "unruly" challenges ahead requires improved capabilities to assess the landscape of systemic risks, develop foresight, and scenario planning with communities.
Our work has further emphasized the multi-dimensional and long-term nature of recovery. Specifically, we recognize the importance of recovery frameworks and how they are the foundation for the kind of local inclusive development and transformative renewal initiatives that the pandemic has underlined the imperative for. Such frameworks act to inform impact assessments, prioritize actions, and guide the monitoring and evaluation of recovery activities. However, the past two years has shown the inadequate focus in the past on incorporating public health concerns, and more especially pandemics, within recovery thinking. For example, the social determinants of health - e.g., where people are live, learn, work etc. - have been so central to COVID-19 risk factors and health outcomes that tackling these inequities through renewal initiatives are critical to enhancing community wellbeing and reducing vulnerabilities to future disasters.
Consider Recovery and Renewal through local government
Governance of delivering recovery and renewal
For two-years we have been examining the way that Recovery and Renewal was managed by the resilience community – through a combination of experiences, including: participating and contributing strategic advice in local government recovery coordination groups (RCG); researching global lessons on COVID-19 which we shared through 51 issues of TMB; interviewing global resilience and risk professionals to uncover their changing impression of Recovery and Renewal (summer 2020, spring 2021, winter 2021; gaining feedback from >80 workshops and presentations we delivered on Recovery, Renewal, Resilience). Unique insights are currently being collected from interviews with RCG Chairs – the strategic leads who chaired RCGs and were typically local government Chief Executives.
These RCG chair interviews are providing rich insight which, when combined with our participant observations over the two years of RCGs, has taught us a great deal, including:
- challenges of coordinating Recovery and Renewal at the national, sub-national and local levels – such as different impacts, prioritisations, and potential solutions
- the local ambitions for recovery, including the transactional activities that were implemented to address the impacts and disruptions of COVID-19
- the local appetite for renewal, including the transformational initiatives to exploit the enthusiasm for changing societies in the aftermath of COVID-19
- learning about the politics of COVID-19 (e.g. governance, scrutiny, accountability), the maturity of resilience arrangements and partnership working at all levels, the value of analysing the impacts of the pandemic
We have learned of the impact of specific constraints from the prolonged crisis, including;
- the challenges of repetitive waves of infections, reintroduction of control measures, parallel response coordination, information and data supply, emerging and acute impacts and needs, work/crisis/empathy fatigue
- preparedness of resilience arrangements (e.g. guidance, knowledge, reality checks) to deal with pandemics beyond the initial responses
- the limitations of current partnerships for integrated emergency management, such as what is the role of local resilience partnerships in a health-led crisis
- what the R in LRF actually means – questioning whether it reflects ‘Resilience’ as a strategic priority in its widest sense, or better characterises ‘Response’ to an event
- the need for new forms of active learning, support and research – including the role of government, centres of excellence and academics in supporting resilience partnerships
Consider that Recovery is necessary; Renewal is ambitious; Resilience is the aim
Partnerships and coordination (national - subnational - local)
It was in May 2020 that we called this project Recovery, Renewal, Resilience (RRR) – never thinking that those three words would be repeated so often across the UK and overseas (TMB Issue 4) - establishing a new international narrative for the aftermath of crises. Those three words have transformed how many places think about the aftermath of Covid-19. In that order, those words have been used by the ESRC as the title of a major funding call and have led to numerous local governments (those we have worked with and ones we have not) using them to frame their own thinking about their aftermath of the pandemic and develop recovery and renewal strategies. To mention five:
- Essex County Council established a Recovery Coordination Group and a Renewal Mobilisation Group which worked extensively together on their county’s recovery and renewal
- Bath and North East Somerset (BNES) established a Strategic Recovery Group which developed their Recovery, Renewal and Resurgence Strategy
- Our work with BNES informed the South Somerset District Council’s Recovery and Renewal Strategy
- Devon County Council published their Recovery and Renewal Strategic Plan
- Cardiff City published their City Recovery and Renewal Strategy
Also, the UK’s Local Government Association used Recovery and Renewal to title their pandemic support to local governments.
Through this project we have established a new international narrative that short-term recovery is insufficient for an experience such as a pandemic. The devastating impacts have called for a new ambition – to renew the foundations of our society because the pandemic has exposed their fragilities, for example, COVID-19 exploiting inequalities and vulnerabilities. This renewal needs to build a nation that is more resilient in every way.
Through working closely with many excellent staff in local government, we have come to appreciate what Recovery, Renewal, Resilience really means. Recovery is the short-term activities done by organisations to undo the negative impacts of the crisis and get the system back to being prepared for the next emergency. Renewal is the more ambitious work programme that seeks to coordinate multi-agency initiatives to resolve the broken foundations of society on which to create a new resilience. We also developed a process to support local government in planning Recovery and Renewal for Resilience.
We were asked to document that process in a fast-tracked International Standard ISO/TS 22393 Guidelines for planning Recovery and Renewal. This is now available worldwide through national standards making bodies. We have just returned from a visit to our long-term partner, Ramallah Municipal Government, as we are working with them to implement ISO/TS 22393 and design Recovery, Renewal, Resilience. Our team (Jenny Moreno) is continuing to work in Chile to support the Government of Talcahuano to develop their Recovery, Renewal, Resilience strategy. Overseas we have enjoyed working in Vancouver City and with the Resilient Cities Network and The International Emergency Management Society. We have greatly appreciated working with the numerous UK bodies that have supported the dissemination of Recovery, Renewal, Resilience – such as UK Cabinet Office, The Emergency Planning Society, and Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership, which have provided constant support.
Consider the opportunity to renew societal resilience: Founding the National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+]
One shining light in the darkness of COVID-19 was the community spirit that was volunteered by many who supported vulnerable people as they shielded in their homes. This continued into volunteering to support the NHS, staffing vaccine centres, donating essential items, self-organising communities to support those in need, among countless other activities. This has stimulated a new realization that, across the country, society will get involved to help others for prolonged periods. A recent exhibition of this has been the outpouring of welcoming via the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
The UK Government communicated its national ambition for harnessing this goodwill for resilience in various publications (see Community Resilience Development Framework (July 2019); National Resilience Standards (August 2020), but it was the Integrated Review of Security and Defence (March 2021) which established a new aspiration, whole-of-society resilience.
Through this ESRC-funded project, we have brought together local resilience partnerships and their sector partners by establishing (with Thames Valley LRF) the National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+] (NCSR+). NCSR+ aims to establish national consistency 'to enhance the UK[+] whole-of-society approach to resilience, so that individuals, community groups, businesses, and organisations can all play a meaningful part in building the resilience of our society' (see www.ambs.ac.uk/ncsr). 63 organisations (including 50 of the 53 resilience partnerships in UK and its Crown Dependencies) are now collaborating through NCSR+ on developing practical approaches for how to enhance societal resilience.
The learning we have realized from the project is that there is a significant will in NCSR+ partners to tackle this intractable challenge together to co-produce a local strategy for societal resilience. We will conduct research through NCSR+ to identify those foundations, develop the strategy, and produce these into a toolkit for how to create nationally-consistent, locally-translatable foundations on which to build good practices. This toolkit will be made freely available to support those who want to pursue improvement in societal resilience in a strategic manner. There will be further opportunities for NCSR+ to support the implementation of whole-of-society resilience by working closely with partnerships and learning how the strategy can make a difference to societal resilience in UK+.
Consider understanding a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to societal resilience
COVID-19, like other emergencies, challenged the surge capabilities of official response systems. Community response to COVID-19 demonstrated a collective will and ability of societal actors to play an active role in preparedness, response and recovery. For this to be galvanised, coordinated, and managed strategically through a ‘whole-of-society’ approach, clarity and consensus is needed on: who we mean by ‘whole-of’; what resilience means in this respect; and, who holds responsibility for its development. The term ‘whole-of-society resilience’ (WoSR) conveys a philosophy, is ambitious, and an aspiration of policy. But, as a concept of operations, questions remain on how it can be understood, communicated, developed, and operationalised locally.
Reflecting this, we conducted a literature review, a number of workshops with resilience professionals, and gathered feedback from partners in NCSR+ to develop a working definition of WoSR. This definition aims to guide the pursuit of WoSR and draws on our ongoing work with NCSR+ and wider partners. We define WoSR (TMB Issue 47) as:
capability created by local systems that help people and
places to adapt and advance in a changing environment
There is important detail within the words (italicised) used in this definition and we define these as:
This definition, by design, aims to capture the widest landscape that is of relevance for local resilience partnerships and sector partners in the NCSR+. But, a single definition will not satisfy all societal actors because different parties will want to accentuate the aspects that they prioritise and attenuate those that sit elsewhere. Also, the user/audience for the definition will change, meaning we need to change the language in the definition and the concepts to align to the context. For example, local community groups may not warm to the NCSR+ working definition because it does not speak in their language to their priorities. Recognising this, The University of Manchester created an intuitive, community-focused definition of WoSR which can be used when communicating with community groups and amplifies those aspects that community groups may have an interest in:
capabilities created before, during, and after a disruption that
involves everyone who wishes to support those who are in need
Two key aspects underpin this definition:
Consider Volunteers: the primary delivery arm for community resilience resources
Voluntary, community and social enterprise sector
COVID-19 saw a voluntary response on a scale and diversity previously unimagined – volunteers who have proved to be an invaluable national and local resilience capability. Despite contextual and narrative differences for Recovery and Renewal, the opportunity to utilise the wave of volunteerism and solidarity emerged as a common theme globally. Individual volunteers, mutual aid groups and community action groups formed the backbone of community resilience resources during COVID-19. A large part of this volunteer community arose spontaneously, individuals and groups unaffiliated with organised voluntary organisations or official response agencies that can bolster capacity and capabilities during emergencies.
Despite the many benefits of Spontaneous Volunteers (SVs), challenges around safety, training, communications, and coordination had (before COVID-19) created a reluctance to engage with SVs during emergencies. Our case study research showed how COVID-19 changed that as community resilience initiatives implemented new activities that ensured the safety of volunteers and beneficiaries (e.g. risk assessments/personal protective equipment). Resilience partnerships and other agencies pivoted to using online systems and social media to rapidly attract, recruit, and train new volunteers by engaging with mutual aid groups and SVs. These online systems provided continuous dialogue and co-ordination with all partners, including volunteers, statutory services and local business partners.
We also found that maintaining the flow of local intelligence and maintaining the motivation of volunteers worked effectively through ‘informal situational trust’. In these community resilience initiatives, informal situational trust was characterised by the use of soft management skills, demonstrating sensitive awareness to the valuable contributions of volunteers, and treating them as equals. For example:
Innovation and agility in volunteer management during COVID-19 has resulted in:
Multiple organisations increasing their use of online means such as social media to recruit, maintain engagement and increase retention of volunteers.
Consider guidance for self-reflection on Recovery and Renewal
As part of our ESRC funded project on Recovery, Renewal, Resilience (RRR) we committed to designing a self-evaluation methodology that enables reflection on recovery and renewal practices. This methodology is informed by lessons we gathered from working across the world – spending thousands of hours working on recovery/renewal and with multi-agency groups that coordinate recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 (in the UK these are called Recovery Coordination Groups - RCGs). This selfevaluation methodology supports local government and other organisations (e.g. voluntary sector) to self-assess their recovery plans and renewal strategies. This self-assessment complements the international standard we wrote ISO/TS 22393 ‘Guidelines for planning Recovery and Renewal’ and its operational version ‘Operationalising ISO/TS 22393: Seven steps to plan recovery and renewal’.
This briefing outlines the self-reflection methodology and can be used in conjunction with ISO/TS 22393. The self-reflection is portioned into seven areas each with a set of questions to pose. Annex 1 provides a template for how those questions might be assessed using a Likert scale – and it is important to record the justification for assessments. The questions focus more on the principles of developing Recovery and Renewal activities – not the intricacies of the activities themselves.
Follow the source link below to read this briefing in full:
Consider 'Operationalising ISO 22393: Seven steps to plan recovery and renewal'
This month’s TMB details ‘Operationalising ISO 22393: Seven steps to plan recovery and renewal’, a new iteration of our project’s international standard - ‘ISO 22393 – Guidelines for planning Recovery and Renewal’ (see TMB Issue 39). This briefing simplifies ISO 22393 into an easy-to-use process to support the implementation of recovery activities and renewal initiatives.
To read the briefing in full, follow the source link below.
Consider co-producing strategy for societal resilience
Co-production is a popular approach to service design and delivery and has been found to exist in all sectors of public services including education, agriculture, health, local governance, and information technology among others (Khine et al., 2021). At its simplest, it involves working with others to design and deliver strategies with the aim of achieving a collective outcome, in our case, to build societal resilience. Some examples of co-production activities include:
Last month’s TMB 47 outlined an initial definition for whole-of-society resilience and noted how societal resilience should be co-produced as a collaboration across resilience partnerships, sector partners and communities. This article explains co-production for resilience and explores how it can support the design and delivery of resilient society. This article builds on TMB 33 when we explored the difficulty of co-production during the response phase of a crisis.
To read this briefing in full, follow the source link below:
Consider the meaning of whole-of-society resilience
This month's TMB discusses 'whole-of-society resilience’ and presents a definition of it from the National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+]. We write how there may not be one single definition of whole-of-society resilience because different definitions will be needed to amplify the priorities of different audiences within society. The definition we provide is from the perspective of local resilience partnerships and sector partners. We link to Issue 44 where we wrote about ‘Understanding ‘whole-of-society’ resilience’.
Follow the source link below to read this briefing in full:
Consider opportunities for Community Recovery and Resilience
This briefing explores opportunities for community recovery and resilience through commemoration. Contributed by colleagues at the University of North Texas USA, this article discusses the unique challenges of considering where, when, and how to commemorate the pandemic, and details various modes of meaningful commemoration for local communities such as public art, collective performances, and intergenerational resilience stories.
Follow the source link below to read the article in full.
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Consider exploring an overview of topics covered in The Manchester Briefing (Part 2)
The Manchester Briefing Issue 45 presents Part 2 of the important topics for recovery and renewal that have been covered over the last 18 months. Part 1 appeared in last month’s TMB Issue 44. This month the Briefing, which is put together by Alliance Manchester Business School and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, collates and summarises the remainder of the articles it has explored across a range of themes including governance, communities, health and economics, as well as providing links to those articles which cut across numerous themes.
Follow the link below to read in full.
Consider climate insurance as a risk transfer process to protect communities and build resilience
COVID-19 has shown that existing planning and programmes are much more accustomed to respond to immediate, tangible local risks, and consistently struggle to anticipate and respond to global risks such as climate risks. A recent report examines how financial tools, namely insurance, could make vulnerable communities more resilient in the face of escalating climate impacts. Consider that climate insurance could:
When planning the design and pricing of climate insurance, consider:
- Conducting a risk assessment to develop a robust and evidence-based understanding of risk and the strategies that are required to mitigate and prepare for risk
- If evolving hazards have been taken into account – e.g. risk assessments should look forward and assess how risks are evolving in light of climate change
- If risk communications are effective e.g. are individuals fully informed so they can make informed decisions about insurance?
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Consider embedding Neighbourhood Community Psychologists to enhance recovery and resilience building in communities
The pandemic has highlighted the multitude of ways that community action has supported resilience (see TMB Issue 30). The British Psychological Society (BPS) recognises that although this is very much the case, it is critical that we don’t overlook those communities who have “long faced and struggled to overcome adversity”. As with many other impacts of the pandemic, the psychological impacts vary significantly in “scale and social distribution”. Those who have limited local/neighbourhood connections have been found to be more socially, economically and clinically vulnerable to psychological strain and distress. The BPS have provided guidance on the potential benefits and possibilities of appointing a Neighbourhood Community Psychologist which may be of use to local government teams, civil society organisations/other community workers. Consider embedding psychologists in local authorities to:
- Improve community engagement and prevent distress by co-creating with local communities, and to research and provide the evidence base for preventative interventions to improve community health
- Bring distinct knowledge, skills, and capabilities, such as:
- Extensive theoretical and evidence-based knowledge and understanding with regards to behaviour and experiences in various contexts e.g. social, cultural, policy and politics
- Understanding of important forms of capital (social, economic, cultural) and factors of place that affect people’s lives
- Experience of directly working with individuals, groups and across organisational boundaries, with abilities to work with and balance power, conflict and diversity
- Co-designing research that tackles complex societal challenges and places reflection and learning at the heart of practice
The guidance helpfully offers a job description which could be used in full to create a new post within a local authority or could be used in part to align with another role.
Case study example from the pandemic:
- MAC-UK, a group of community psychologists, have been working in communities with vulnerable young people during COVID-19. Some of their activities include:
- Investigating the ‘underground economy’ where many excluded young people work to identify ways in which they can be supported in the event of income loss due to the economic impacts of the pandemic
- Developing strategies on ‘what next’ in the aftermath of COVID by exploring the potential role of community psychologists in creating social change in communities
Consider how nature-based solutions (NbS) can build resilience
COVID-19 has exacerbated what has already been described as a “triple emergency: climate change; nature loss; rising poverty and inequality”, while also presenting a rare opportunity to improve preparedness and mitigation through recovery and renewal. Effective NbS involve working closely with nature, people and the climate, realising the interdependent nature of these elements. NbS are a cost effective approach and have the potential to deliver multiple benefits simultaneously when implemented effectively. A recent report brings together examples of NbS for climate, nature and people from 13 local community case studies. Consider the following examples of holistic approaches that address the these interdependent threats:
- The Medmerry project, UK, embarked on a coastal managed realignment to build new sea defences inland from the coast allowing a new ‘intertidal’ area to develop. Cross benefits of this initiative include:
- Climate change: The intertidal habitat serves as a blue carbon store, meaning the area can itself adapt to the effect of climate change and mitigate future climate change impacts, making the area more resilient to sea level rise and storms
- Nature: Bird populations have thrived as a result of the site creation
- People: The project has developed flood protection to homes, critical infrastructure and local services. The work of this project has increased the economic value of production in the area, boosted tourism and reduced the emotional stress faced by vulnerable communities
- Talensi, Ghana, implemented a farmer-led and community-based dryland restoration initiative to tackle the deteriorating soil fertility and local natural resources. The communities used ‘Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration’ to restore multipurpose trees to rural areas. Cross benefits of this initiative include:
- Climate change: Increase in water retention and soil erosion reduction as a result of soil and tree restoration on farms
- Nature: 718 hectares of degraded land was restored and the project resulted in the planning of 23,000 additional fruit trees in the area
- People: A reduction in annual household hunger and an increase in diverse household income sources (e.g. greater range of food crops) leading to increased levels of household resilience
Consider how socio-economic and socio-cultural variables can affect the impacts of public health crises
Research has found that additional statistical modelling based on cultural and demographic factors can help to predict how disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 can accelerate and progress. The aim of this ongoing research is to project the spread of future pandemics by utilising the predictive power of cultural and demographic data. Effectiveness of response interventions should consider cultural values among people in communities. Consider:
- A data driven approach to modelling disease outbreak prevalence based on cultural and demographic factors such as:
- Population size
- Population density
- Public transport
- Health (e.g. obesity)
- Culture (e.g. voting patterns – research has shown that societies/communities with low trust in institutions tended to have higher COVID-19 death rates)
This paper offers a predictive model of COVID-19 prevalence – finding that the above 5 risk factors can predict between 47% and 60% of variation in COVID-19 prevalence in US counties. A second paper explores how cultural values can support the prediction of how outbreaks could progress and also what population groups may be most vulnerable.
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Consider re-evaluating disaster preparedness and response strategies to centralise the needs of persons with disabilities
Many local governments have begun to take the lessons learn lessons from their COVID-19 response and amend strategies to improve emergency response plans for the future. E, ensuring these plans are disability inclusive is critical. Persons with disabilities can often be more vulnerable to risk during normal times and even more so in the height of a crisis. A recent paper explored the social determinants of disabled people’s vulnerability to COVID-19 and the impact of policy response strategies. The paper identifies recovery and renewal strategies that focus on reducing the social, economic, and environmental conditions that create disproportionate and unequal impacts. When re-evaluating local disaster preparedness and response, consider:
- Seek feedback from local people in your local community who live with a disability, and their carers, to understand how local response to COVID-19 met their needs or how their needs might be met more effectively in the future e.g. communications, access to services, community support mechanisms etc.
- Include strategies that recognise social vulnerability, as well as health related vulnerabilities, for example ‘universal basic income’ approaches to social security or ’housing first’ approaches to tackling homelessness
- Identify the various forms of risk that persons with disabilities might be exposed to, taking geographical and locale-specific risks into consideration. Needs will differ in the case of a flood/fire and evacuation than when faced with a health crisis
- Integrate the diverse and intersecting needs of persons with disabilities into preparedness and response plans. Co-produce these plans with them and their carers
- Identify the barriers that people with disabilities face in the community – work to reduce these barriers through long-term renewal initiatives, and not just in the case of emergency (e.g. re-designing local infrastructure to increase accessibility)
- Incorporate training for volunteers on the rights and diverse needs of people living with disabilities to maintain their dignity, safeguard against discrimination, and prevent inequalities in care provision (see UK guidance on supporting people with disabilities)
See: ‘Disability and Health Emergency Preparedness’ for guidance on identifying needs, tools and resources, and guidance for assessing preparedness and response programmes. See also: TMB Issue 19 for a further case study on disability-inclusive recovery and renewal.
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Consider the meaning of 'whole-of-society' resilience
Understanding 'whole-of-society' resilience
There is a new term being used in the emergency planning community – ‘whole of society resilience’. This term was integral to government’s Integrated Review (IR) (see TMB 32) and featured heavily in the call for evidence for the National Resilience Strategy (NRS). This new term points to an ambitious endeavour for societal resilience and forms a call-to-action that is broader than community resilience. But … What does whole-of-society resilience mean? What might be its implications for emergency planning? Below we share some initial thoughts on answers to these questions.
What does whole-of-society resilience mean?
Building a collective understanding on the meaning of ‘whole-of-society’ resilience is a critical first step to ensure that ambitious endeavour is aligned. To aid this process, we share an early definition which could inform debates and future definitions. Whole-of-society resilience is the:
capability created by local systems that help people and places to adapt and advance in a changing
In this definition,
What are the implications of whole-of-society resilience for emergency planning?
The use of the term whole-of-society resilience has ignited change in the resilience narrative across the UK. It suggests that whole-of-society resilience embeds the need to depart from historically government centred approaches to building resilience, towards an integrated approach with whole-of-society. This is characterised by a combination of top-down and bottom-up collaboration, and the co-production of local resilience capabilities with whole-of-society resilience actors.
Whole-of-society resilience reinforces that the world is interconnected so you cannot be resilient on your own.
Therefore, responding to this call on whole-of-society resilience requires thought on how resilience partnerships and society can work together to understand and reduce risk, pinpoint vulnerabilities, enhance our preparedness and leverage the agency of our communities. Building the resilience of our society should be a strategic endeavour, with national policy being influenced by knowledge and work at the local level and then interpreted and implemented locally, through collaboration between resilience partnerships (government sector), sector partners (voluntary sector and business), and communities (individuals, groups, networks, businesses and organisations). Such a partnership is demonstrated through the newly established National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+] (NCSR+).
The NCSR+ recognises that resilience must be rooted inside communities. This includes building on existing community structures and partnerships and establishing new ones, and creating an inclusive, supportive, and enabling environment for the co-production of whole-of-society local resilience capabilities. Over the coming months, the members of NCSR+ aim to tackle this challenge together. An early activity for NCSR+ will be to develop a shared understanding of whole-of-society resilience, identify the principles that should underpin a whole-of-society approach, and gather and promulgate good practice examples of community resilience strategies.
This blogs aims to support the first step of developing a shared understanding of WoS resilience, agreeing on “what it is and how we make it relatable to the person on the street”. To achieve this the members of NCSR+ are already listening to their local communities to gain information on their own local risk and priorities for resilience. However, with the backdrop of communities’ responses to COVID-19 and the whole-of-society resilience that was built, we have to move quickly. COVID-19 has “helped to galvanise every single aspect of society into realising that there is a place for everybody to have some responsibility” when it comes to building resilience and we should try to firmly embed this rather than lose it.
In summary, you cannot be resilient on your own. Shared understanding and joint working is needed, which requires an adjustment of relationships on resilience between whole-of-society and resilience partnerships. The aspiration is to work towards collective resilience of whole-of-society, a collaboration across local resilience partners, sector partners, and whole-of-society. Government is organising itself to respond to this call-for-action and the NCSR+ is positioning its work to support local government to collaborate with whole-of-society on resilience.
 HM Government (2021) Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. Cabinet Office, March 2021
 HM Government (2021) National Resilience Strategy: Call for Evidence. Cabinet Office, July 2021
 Shaw and Jordan (2021), Understanding ‘whole-of-society’ resilience. The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19: International lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal. Issue 44, October 29th 2021, p.16-17. The University of Manchester. Available at: https://www.alliancembs.manchester.ac.uk/research/recovery-renewal-resilience-from-covid-19/briefings/
 Joan McCaffrey, Local Government Civil Contingencies, Northern Ireland, speaking at the launch of the National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+]
 Kevin Murphy, The Office of the Committee for Home Affairs, States of Guernsey, speaking at the launch of the National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+]
Consider ways to drive a more productive and inclusive digital economy
Digital technology proved invaluable for much of society and the economy to adapt and cope with the effects of the pandemic. However, the pace of digital transformation has exposed much of the inequalities in accessing and benefiting from the digital economy. For example, during the pandemic, most SMEs adopted basic digital technologies, however, many lack the resources and infrastructure (compared to larger firms) to employ complex digital strategies that could increase growth and productivity. An uneven distribution of digital productivity advantages may accelerate a “K-shaped recovery”, which risks leaving people and places behind. Consider:
- Increase access to digital technology e.g. improve access to broadband and digital devices to provide the technical means for productivity to develop/advance. Where connectivity is “slow, expensive or non-existent”, local governments can address the digital divide and increase access by creating or investing in publicly or privately run local networks, e.g. libraries/public buildings. For example, Toronto city council, Canada:
- launched the ConnectTo 2021 programme which increases access to affordable, high-speed internet across the city, targeted at underserved communities in the city and;
- in partnership with a private sector partner will establish a municipal broadband network; expand access to free public Wi-Fi and design a ‘Digital Equity Policy’ to tackle the growing digital divide and support the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in the city.
- Create means by which people can increase their digital skills – training, skills development workshops etc. in collaboration with local partners (local schools, colleges, businesses, voluntary organisations). Creating an eco-system of support to tackle digital inequalities can drive inclusive productivity growth and benefit the whole community
- Implement new strategies for inclusive productivity that consider the advantages of digital technology on the local economy, productivity and community wellbeing. New strategies should be informed by evidence, taking multiple dimensions into consideration e.g. education, business innovation, housing, and infrastructure
United States of America
Consider ways to meaningfully engage young people in disaster risk reduction (DRR)
TMB 36 discussed the potential role of young people in reducing and responding to disaster risk. The lesson details meaningful, inclusive, and creative strategies for engaging young people in all stages of DRR such as youth-led/collaborative participation. A recent addition to the Sendai Framework Voluntary Commitments details The Africa Youth Advisory Board on DRR (AYAB DRR), a collective established to encourage meaningful youth engagement and participation in DRR policy development, implementation and evaluation across Africa. Consider:
- Connect with local youth-led/youth-focused organisations, invite these organisations to collaborate on all stages of DRR and connect their voices with local decision makers
- Support young people as agents of change by acting as a facilitator/brokerage to connect their groups and initiatives to resilience partners who can inform and coach/take inspiration from youth-led DRR initiatives. This activity could also support the development of local/regional networks between young people and resilience partners
- Use online platforms (websites, social media etc.) to create open, accessible and inclusive knowledge sharing capacity for youth-led DRR groups/organisations, or to showcase, celebrate and promote their work. For example:
- The Himalayan Risk Research Institute is developing a platform for disaster risk reduction students, researchers and young professionals. The initiative aims to develop a “skill transfer mechanism” whereby training, field research and workshops can build the knowledge and skills of young scientists and professionals and in turn benefit local DRR activities
- Enable the mobilization of youth groups, by increasing their access to local resources (e.g. community spaces they could use) and support “physical and virtual capacity building” to improve their visibility, inclusion and active participation
Considerations for an equal recovery
COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable in our society as evidenced by impact and needs assessments. As a result, some local government recovery plans have sought to build fairness and equality into recovery and renewal. This case study explores some of the unequal impacts shared through the Health Foundation’s COVID-19 impact inquiry report ‘Unequal pandemic, fairer recovery: The COVID-19 impact inquiry report’ (July 2021), and considers how equality can be placed at the centre of recovery and renewal efforts.
The report examines the impacts of the pandemic on our health and the implications of this for recovery. A comprehensive review of the unequal distribution of impacts on different population groups and places across the UK is offered. In addition, the report shows how strategies to respond to the pandemic have exacerbated and created new impacts, with immediate and long-term consequences for health and wellbeing. This case study presents the key findings from the report, and suggests key issues for consideration, based on the webinar: ‘A healthy recovery – Acting on findings from the COVID-19 impact inquiry’.
In just one month of the pandemic the UK saw “128,000 deaths, a 10% drop in GDP and 2 million children were facing food insecurity”. The report demonstrates how “health and wealth are inextricably connected…the poorest families are relying on savings and debt…the wealthiest are saving”. It goes on to highlight the opportunity to drive a sustainable recovery, one that creates a healthier, more inclusive, fairer and prosperous society; one that reduces the stark inequalities exposed by the pandemic. The findings of this inquiry and key issues for consideration include:
- The pandemic has exposed distinct differences in the health of the working age population – for example, people under 65 in the most deprived areas in England were “3.7 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those in the wealthiest areas”. Recovery and renewal requires:
- A comprehensive understanding of the wider determinants of health, taking systemic inequalities (poverty, education, employment) into account. Identifying differential outcomes of the pandemic is key to building resilience to future shocks
- Recognition of the inherent link between socioeconomic factors and underlying health conditions, e.g. people living in deprived areas have fewer opportunities for good health, as they predominantly work in sectors (e.g. industrial jobs) that place them at risk during crises such as COVID-19, and have poorer access to welfare protections such as sick pay
- Targeted strategies that create opportunities for good health and wellbeing in historically underserved areas
- The groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the consequences of containment measures (mental health, education gaps, lost employment and financial insecurity) include: young people, persons with disabilities, ethnic minority communities, care home residents, prisoners, homeless people and those experiencing sexual exploitation. Recovery and renewal requires policies and initiatives that:
- Address issues exacerbating the impacts of health emergencies such as COVID-19. For example, “education, employment and income are the longer-term risks to health” and strategies need to mitigate the greater loss among disadvantaged groups
- Prioritise access to and the quality of jobs, as certain areas across the UK are still suffering striking unemployment rates. Equal distribution of work and opportunity is key to prevent leaving people and places behind
- Type and quality of work, housing conditions, and access to financial support have all affected exposure to the virus. Recovery should:
- Identify and address the root causes of poor health and invest in communities – employment opportunities, housing, education, and community resilience
These issues of fairness and equality in recovery and renewal are not well served by the ‘Build Back Better’ vision which has been much criticised for often reproducing past inequalities and challenges. Instead, given the diversity and deep-rooted impacts of the pandemic, a more appropriate vision for recovery and renewal would be to ‘Build Forward Fairer’. This puts the much-needed priority of equality at the heart of renewal and transformation in the aftermath of crises.
 Suleman M, Sonthalia S, Webb C, Tinson A, Kane M, Bunbury S, Finch D, Bibby J. Unequal pandemic, fairer recovery: The COVID-19 impact inquiry report. The Health Foundation; 2021 (https://doi.org/10.37829/HF-2021-HL12)
Consider how collaborating with international humanitarian agencies can support local community-led preparedness and resilience
Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe are working with civil society organisations (CSOs) and faith-based organisations (FBOs) to design, develop and enhance local level preparedness systems and capacities to support resilience building during and after crises. Local and national governments, the private sector, the media, and academia are also collaborating with the initiative, to help communities to develop their preparedness and response planning. Working with existing community structures, the initiative aims to mobilise and engage community leaders, key stakeholders, and underrepresented groups. The initiative ensures that the most vulnerable people in the community are at the heart of activities. A lack of capacity, resources and capabilities often creates challenges for local governments to initiate effective disaster risk reduction strategies and support from partners e.g. international humanitarian agencies can help to fill the gaps in the initial planning and implementation processes. Consider establishing new partnerships with international humanitarian agencies to:
- Provide institutional capacity and knowledge on emergency preparedness and response processes;
- Support the design, planning, development and implementation of projects that incorporate new initiatives which enable communities to participate and collaborate on emergency response;
- Support partners to establish local preparedness and response systems, including their own governance capacities;
- Conduct peer reviews to identify lessons learned and share examples of good practices;
- Inform future disaster preparedness and response planning
The activities in this initiative include:
- Train CSOs and FBOs on integrated disaster management. This activity aims to develop localised first response systems and capacities;
- Support and train CSOs and FBOs on Emergency Preparedness & Response Planning capacity development, including strategies for building resilience;
- Establish/strengthen 40 local voluntary community groups on areas such as community preparedness, early warning and response;
- Pilot a ‘Supporting Community-led Response’ programme which aims to enable communities and self-help groups to collaborate on response to crisis, and to address root causes of vulnerability, through workshops, peer review and lessons learned sessions
Consider how to engage with micro- and small-medium enterprises (MSMEs) owned by underrepresented groups to better support their recovery and renewal
Underrepresented groups such as women- and minority- owned MSMEs have shown a higher degree of vulnerability during the pandemic. Women- and minority- owned businesses tend to be micro in size (10 employees or less), more financially fragile, and face barriers when accessing professional and financial support services, according to the OECD and McKinsey. Past experiences of barriers to support mean that these groups are less likely to seek support or are unaware of the support that may be available to them. During a recent webinar, it was reported that these types of businesses could add £70 billion to the UK economy, if fully supported. We explore ways in which national and local government can better engage with MSMEs to develop policies and support mechanisms that will adequately address their recovery and renewal needs. The OECD and the UK’s Business in the Community recommend:
- Understand the barriers faced by these business owners by directly engaging with them, for example:
- Establish and facilitate discussions (e.g. consultation) with MSME owners, organisations that represent them, and others such as banks, insurance companies, and professional services providers
- Design inclusive schemes that acknowledge and remove barriers, increase accessibility, and provide adequate support to women- and minority-owned businesses. Examples include:
- Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Fund (CAD 15 million) and the Black Entrepreneurship Program (CAD 221 million)
- Ireland’s Women in Business 2020 Action Plan
- Malaysia’s Short-term National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) which includes a USD 12.5 million micro financing program and an initiative aimed to raise funds to help finance microenterprises. Both initiatives are targeted at women entrepreneurs
- Deploy targeted advertising and collaborate with business associations, to raise awareness of new and existing aid schemes
- Reduce the bureaucracy of existing aid measures, by decreasing ex ante eligibility checks and deploying easily accessible digital portals. For example:
- Switzerland's “bridging credit” scheme which can be applied for through a simple one-page form, increasing to accessibility of financial aid and the speed at which companies can receive assistance
- Create contract/tender opportunities that are targeted at women- and minority- owned MSMEs (see examples from Florida and Indiana)
Consider methods to increase participatory decision-making
Consider methods to increase participatory decision-making. The Open City Toolkit (OCT) is a web-based geographic information system (GIS) that supports “integrated and participatory urban planning processes, fostering dialogue between governments and citizens and exchange of knowledge and data between government departments”. The OCT Toolkit, developed by HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU) and Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeir GnbH (GIZ), is now freely available and offers:
- Guidance to help local government and urban planners to visualise and analyse complex urban data, collaboratively among local practitioners and with citizens
- An online introductory tutorial which details the technical components of the system and how these components work together for the tool to function
- A further tutorial series which guides the user of the OCT step-by-step through the process of managing the system.
The OCT is currently being piloted in two cities:
- Bhubaneswar, India where high numbers of people are living in informal settlements (e.g. slums) and the local government are using the OCT to identify land for the development of affordable housing
- Latacunga, Ecuador, where large areas of the city are vulnerable to risk due to their proximity to the Cotopaxi volcano and the local government intend to use the OCT to develop collaborative solutions for volcanic risk governance
The OCT has been adapted to the specific local planning requirements of the two pilot cities mentioned above, but offers open software for the development of further functionalities for new contexts.
Consider new governance models to increase preparedness and ensure effective responses to future crises
The role of all levels of government in determining the success or failure of the COVID-19 response in different countries was recognized early in the pandemic. So, it is no surprise that multi-level governance and an integrated approach are generally accepted as key elements in achieving the best results to fight against the pandemic. The UN recognizes that governance systems are complex due to their interaction with the social, legal, political context of each country and region. Therefore, there is no “off-the-shelf” solution that can be universally applied. Considering this, the UN recommends:
- “Incorporating governance approaches into national, subnational, and local pandemic responses, that take into consideration local situations and needs
- Promote an integrated and cooperative approach between different levels of governance, to avoid competition/division, political confusion, and institutional friction
- Maintain and strengthen health care, social welfare, and other protections, by increasing funding to these areas and developing revenue sources such as progressive tax models
- Ensure that emergency preparedness is effectively integrated into health governance at all levels. The current pandemic is a learning opportunity for national, regional, and local governments and its lessons should contribute to build appropriate governance mechanisms
- Incorporate digital technologies into policy making and improved governance, by investing in the appropriate infrastructure, increasing the number of government services available online, and promoting digital inclusion
- Ensure crisis management strategies incorporate long-term recovery strategies that align with aspirational goals around social inclusion and sustainability. The current crisis offers a unique opportunity to rebuild and renew. Governments, at all levels, should consider new paths forward in order to not only improve resilience against future pandemics, but also to address pre-COVID problems such as inequality, climate change, migration, and the erosion of human rights”
Consider the potential impacts of long-COVID on local services
TMB Issue 36 mentioned the need to identify and address the impacts of ‘Long COVID’ on people who receive and provide care and support in local communities (e.g. social care services/unpaid carers). The most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures (July 2021) report that just under one million people in the UK have self-reported symptoms of Long COVID. The symptoms associated with ‘Long COVID’ (e.g. fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, cognitive dysfunction) have the potential to impact people’s ability to work, and their physical and mental health. The impacts of Long COVID have the potential to increase long-term demand on local health and social care services. Consider:
- How a rise in demand will impact current capacities and resources in local health and social care services
- Where re-deployment (e.g. of volunteers) may be possible to alleviate pressure on health and social care workers and meet the needs of people who might require continuous support e.g. with transport/shopping
- What training and safeguards would need to be put in place to ensure any additional support provided by volunteers is done safely
- The impacts of Long COVID on other services such as housing, transport, welfare and employment
- Conduct a review to:
- assess current resources and surge capacities
- understand who in the community does and might need additional support and estimate the length of time this might be for (using information such as people who have underlying health conditions)
- estimate what funding might be required to meet a rise in demand and how this potential rise can be forecasted, budgeted, and planned for
Consider the value of play in building resilience in young people and their communities
The pandemic has disrupted children and young people’s education, physical health, mental well-being, and social development. There is an abundance of evidence that shows how play is crucial for children’s “health, their physical-and emotional growth, and intellectual and educational development”. The social and behavioural skills that children acquire during play can support the development of resilience, increasing children’s ability to manage stress and adversity. Local areas now have an opportunity to increase spaces for play through city infrastructure and land use planning in their Recovery Strategies and Renewal Initiatives. Resilient Cities Network (RCN) explored this topic in a recent webinar. Consider:
- The Reclaiming Play in Cities initiative, which recognises how the “built environment as a critical play and learning resource for children”. Increasing opportunities for play in cities can support communities to build resilience. For example:
- Barnet, London have taken full advantage of urban regeneration to invest in play infrastructure. Core strategies include “balancing private development with adequate resourcing for the local voluntary and community sector (VCS) to provide play activities for the most vulnerable children in the area”, and the redesign of two local parks
- Khayelitsha, Cape Town, with the support of the Urban Play Framework (discussed below), began a two-phase intervention to develop a local play culture in the area. With community participation, the first phase upgrades a series of existing courtyards to create a network of designated play spaces. The second phase will link this network to a refurbished nursery which will serve as a central hub to establish a safer, more varied and stimulating environment for play
- The Urban Play Framework which offers guidance on design and ‘placemaking’ in cities:
- The Urban Play Framework Toolkit which provides methods and tools to support local governments and communities to conduct a play assessment of their area, and identify and co-design play activation initiatives
- The importance of participatory processes and community engagement in the assessment, design, and evaluation of play initiatives so that children are active participants in the process to increase their agency
Consider tools to support and drive local economic recovery
A recent event organised by Geneva Cities Hub (GHC) and UN-Habitat examined the measures that cities across the world took to tackle economic and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The session discussed lessons learned and how these might inform and accelerate the development of strategies which effectively prepare for and mitigate the effects of future crisis in cities. One core response lesson identified was that “cities which have best managed the crisis are those who have been flexible in the allocation of resources and capacities to support their citizens”. A further key takeaway was the potential for tools developed by international organisations to support and drive city recovery and renewal. The tools discussed include:
- The Urban Economic Resilience Performance Diagnostic and Planning Tool which can support cities to:
- Identify the “strengths and weaknesses of institutional and operating” mechanisms with a focus on economic recovery, renewal, and resilience building
- Analyse the “structure and functioning” of cities and effectively measure economic performance. This tool can specifically help cities to understand how these factors impact vulnerability to shocks and stressors, and broader local resilience
- Inform the design and implementation of comprehensive Recovery Strategies and Renewal Initiatives that restore and enhance preparedness, and tackle systemic socio-economic conditions to reduce vulnerabilities
- The Municipal Financial Self-Assessment Tool which aims to support cities to:
- Analyse city financial health and identify strategies that will improve the “mobilization of local resources, financial management, public spending, assets management (public), investment programming and access to external funding”
- Evaluate local budgets, finance management practices, city savings capacity, investment history and future opportunities, and review financial forecasts
- Benchmark according to a set of comparable key indicators and ratios
- Define strategies for a ‘Municipal Finance Improvement Plan’ aiming for “greater accountability, visibility and efficiency in the use of public funds”
- The local government of Kisela Voda, Macedonia, detailed how this tool supported them to mobilize local resources such as increasing land development fees and selling municipal assets
- The City Resilience Profiling Tool, designed to:
- Assess and understand unique urban systems by engaging local governments, the private sector and civil society stakeholders to build city resilience
- Support the establishment of strategies that consider five core and interdependent components: “spatial attributes; organisational attributes; physical attributes; functional attributes; and time”
Consider a Multi-dimensional Framework for Recovery and Renewal
legislation policy guidance
This briefing details our Recovery and Renewal Framework, we explore updates to the framework, its development since April 2020, and how the framework might be applied in practice. The Recovery and Renewal Framework underpins ISO/TS 22393, The Manchester Briefing, and our new database of international lessons.
To read the briefing in full, follow the source link below (p.3-6).
Consider examples of resilience strategies from regions within the state of Queensland, Australia
In 2018, The Queensland Reconstruction Authority began a transformational initiative to develop “locally led, co-designed regional resilience strategies to support the coordination and prioritisation of future resilience building and mitigation projects across Queensland”. The initiative was recognised by the UN’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Sendai Framework Voluntary Commitments platform. The aim is to ensure that by 2022, “every region across Queensland will be involved in a locally-led and regionally-coordinated blueprint to strengthen disaster resilience”. While the strategy was implemented prior to COVID-19, it has lots to offer those currently planning regional and local Recovery Strategies and Renewal Initiatives post-COVID-19.
The regional resilience strategies incorporate an integrated planning approach involving multiple professional and stakeholder groups. The key elements contained in each strategy include:
- “physical and mental health;
- structural mitigation;
- land-use planning;
- building practices;
- economic continuity;
- disaster response;
- landscape management;
- essential infrastructure;
- community awareness and resilience”.
Each strategy will be supported by local resilience action plans to guide implementation of resilience pathways. The aim for local resilience action plans are to:
- “Address local needs within the context of the regional strategic imperatives;
- Draw regional connections and commonalities;
- Increase local government capacity and capability;
- Support local government with day-to-day activities;
- Identify risk-informed projects;
- Identify integration pathways”.
Although developed at regional level, the strategies aim to be “flexible and scalable, so that they can be adapted to changing contexts and tailored to specific community needs”. The initiative supports capacity building to develop local and regional capabilities as well as to coordinate support from other regions and the state. The initiative has prioritised the development of resilience strategies that closely align to available resources and funding. We provide details on two regional strategies and related case studies below:
Central West Queensland Regional Resilience Strategy
The Central West Queensland Resilience Strategy is centred on “new possibilities” through aligning the objectives of economic development, resilience and climate adaption to mitigate the region’s exposure to the impacts of climate variability and uncertainty.
The strategy offers local case studies in disaster recovery, health and economic resilience. For example:
- The 2019 Monsoon Trough devastated the Winton Shire area. Local government and the community implemented the ‘Winton shire community-led recovery’ plan. The plan put the ‘Neighbourhood Centre’ staff as the central point of contact for community-led recovery, allowing “locals to speak with a local” – so residents got recovery support from other local people who were familiar with the area and the communities values
- The ‘Head Yakka’ programme focused on partnership working between local governments, communities and not-for-profit organisations, for the mental health and wellbeing of outback communities. ‘Head Yakka’ is a “place-based” and “engagement-based” program that capitalizes on existing community networks
- ‘The Lake Dunn Sculpture Trail’, an organically created local tourism project showcasing the innovation and creative spirit of local communities. This project transitioned a local venture into an international tourist attraction
Mary Regional Resilience Strategy
The Mary Regional Resilience Strategy takes a “multi-hazard approach to the varied aspects of disaster resilience, noting that many resilience-building measures and activities are often multi-dimensional”.
The strategy offers case study examples of recovery and resilience building initiatives. For example:
- ‘Get Ready Generation Z’, a workshop run in partnership between local school leaders and regional and local councils, focused on educating young people on the foundations of local resilience. The workshop also gave local young people the opportunity to share their personal stories on being a resilient member of a resilient community. The workshop inspired young people to outline their criteria for community resilience
- Regional community-focused readiness workshops, facilitated by local authorities, enabling community groups to share information and insights on community assets and capabilities available in the event of an emergency
- ‘Remembering our history’, an initiative that documents the history of local natural hazard events. Markers, plaques and public art installations support remembrance and commemoration of past events, their impact on community recovery, and record historical events
 A multi-hazard approach that involves the integration of “all aspects of the disaster management cycle including preparedness, response, recovery and prevention”. https://www.preventionweb.net/files/14348_14348SheshKafleICBRR2010.pdf
 E.g. A climate-resilient pathway can include “strategies, choices and actions” that mitigate climate change and its effects, the design and implementation of effective disaster and risk management practices. https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/5_warner.pdf
Consider how cities can build resilience by addressing poverty and inequality
Cities have grown considerably in the recent decades but this growth has exacerbated existing problems related to poverty and inequality. Deep-rooted inequalities have heavily influenced the degree and nature of COVID-19 impacts on society as whole. Thus, reducing inequalities, marginalization, and poverty should be a cornerstone of the strategy to recover and renew to increase resilience. Consider the following recommendations from the UN:
- Ensure that strategies provide un-registered people (e.g. people who are homeless or reside in slums) with access to basic and affordable services, like water, waste disposal and sanitation facilities. Longer-term strategies should work to build the resilience of people living in informal settlements and reduce their vulnerability to crises
- For example, the DARAJA initiative is working to build the climate resilience of vulnerable communities who are living in informal settlements in Tanzania and Kenya. The goal is to improve the climate resilience of vulnerable people by increasing their access to climate and early warning information through feedback loops that enable hazard communication and awareness in informal communities
- Establish stronger labour and health protection for those not covered by formal government support systems e.g. casual/zero contract workers and people who work in the informal labour market
- “Plan for mixed use, socially diverse communities”, to avoid the creation of segregated communities (e.g. migrant worker complexes) of discriminated groups (e.g. ethnic minorities) when planning for public housing
- Establish policies that increase the long-term affordability of housing, by implementing measures such as “housing price caps, rent vouchers, subsidies, and investments in affordable or/and social housing”. Consider the example of Portugal, where the Resilience and Recovery Plan includes a total of EUR 2.7 million in affordable housing
- Implement strategies that improve connectivity in cities and affordable transport options, particularly for low-income neighbourhoods, including cycling and open, safe and affordable public transportation (e.g. buses, trains, among others)
- Invest in digital inclusion, by increasing infrastructure and training programmes, so that vulnerable populations can take advantage of recent trends such as digital government
- Support a comprehensive recovery and renewal strategy for densely populated areas e.g. slums and informal settlements, by implementing a variety of measures, such as “equitable land management, regulation of property markets, and application of progressive land-based finance and value capture instruments”
- Invest in communities, by engaging with them through meaningful participatory and inclusive methods (see TMB Issue 39 on co-production). Actively work to include “marginalized and minority groups, including persons of African descent, indigenous peoples, minorities and LGBTQ+”, so that their experiences and perspectives are fully heard and accounted for
Consider how recovery and resilience programs account for budget constraints
Local and national governments are investing significant resources in recovery of public health, economic and employment regeneration, humanitarian assistance, among other areas. Consideration of budget constraints is crucial – for example, the OECD uses Spain as an example to highlight the dual-task: support vulnerable people and reduce public spending. Consider strategies to prevent fiscal debt following recovery from COVID-19:
- Implement the use of subsidies for vulnerable populations during recovery
- Promote efficient use of resources, e.g. focus on sectors most severely impacted and have strong productivity potential, such as small-medium businesses
- Re-regulate future retirement arrangements for workers (e.g. measures such as “disincentivise early retirement”) to reduce the gap between the average labour market exit age and the statutory retirement age
- Identify local jobs which can be targeted toward the unemployed/marginalized (e.g. infrastructure/green economy jobs created through recovery and renewal strategies) and skills development opportunities (e.g. through apprenticeships) to increase employability
- Make public spending transparent using ICT platforms. Specify how much is spent, in which programmes, and the number of beneficiaries
Consider local initiatives to tackle loneliness and build community resilience
TMB 39 noted how “tackling loneliness” was a key priority for community wellbeing in the next year, particularly in rural areas with high numbers of elderly residents. For example, ‘TED Ageing Better’ in East Lindsey is working to foster sustainable resilience in older people by strengthening social capital in the community and providing specific support services. Consider, from TED in East Lindsey’s recent report:
- When establishing community well-being initiatives, focus on “flexible and person-centred” activities. For example:
- Magna Vitae's Community Health Activity Project employs a range of outreach mechanisms (online, telephone, one to one and group meetings) to ensure their service is inclusive. This has led to higher levels of engagement, enabling the development of innovative activities to meet diverse needs of the community
- Co-produce recovery initiatives (see TMB 38) and underpin these initiatives with a common goal e.g. to increase social capital and thus resilience amongst older people in the community
- Strengthen “peer-to-peer relationships” which can develop ties amongst residents and increase their sense of belonging. Such initiatives benefited from the delivery of “activity packs” that keep residents engaged and connected to people in their community during periods of isolation and social distancing
- Build on the relationships developed through well-being initiatives and co-production activities to support digital inclusion and build digital skills e.g. through community donation programmes (computers/laptops) and skill-building workshops facilitated by local volunteers
- Examples of strategies to tackle loneliness in Northern Ireland (NI) include:
- The Department for Communities works with Libraries NI and National Museums NI to deliver projects that address loneliness, e.g. “Supporting People”, a programme which aims to improve levels of digital connectivity and digital inclusion
- The Village Catalyst Pilot Project, which aims to tackle social isolation and rural poverty. The project will repair vacated buildings and repurpose them to improve local access to critical services and facilities, and provide increased space for community-led projects and social activities
Consider new funding models to increase city recovery and resilience
Cities’ have been in the forefront of the fight against the pandemic, by providing emergency services, containing the spread of disease, mitigating the resulting social and economic impact, and coordinating efforts for recovery. In addition, cities have delivered financial aid to companies and families in need, and reduced or suspended municipal taxes (see European Committee of the Regions). Naturally, this has impacted their public finances and there have been various calls to change how cities are funded, in order to increase fiscal resilience. The current funding model for most cities, around the world, is primarily based in transfers from national governments. Own revenues, such as taxes, comprise the second most important source of revenue to cities, followed by external financing. The UN proposes reversing the current model, by decreasing the dependency on national transfers and increasing revenues from own revenues and external financing. The UN recommends the following:
- Provide funding to cities to support economic recovery, for example:
- National governments could provide emergency funding to cities earmarked for service provision, infrastructure, and special relief programs for populations
- Improve the accessibility of finance and credit for local governments, by allowing them direct access to grant/loan applications and enabling them to develop public private partnerships
- “Strengthen multilateral financing and cooperation” to allow cities to fund recovery and renewal programs. For example:
- International organizations, development banks, and national governments could establish dedicated global funds to finance urban responses to COVID-19, to help cities and their local economic and financial recoveries
- The European Union Solidarity Fund will cover 100% of costs incurred by Portuguese cities, associated with the fight against COVID-19
- Channel financial support to productive sectors most at need. City authorities could facilitate coordinated action across urban areas to provide “loan programmes, grants, tax incentives, and temporary rent deferrals” to businesses in need
- Introduce incentives for “sustainable production and consumption through new policies, subsidies and knowledge transfers”. E.g. grants for new clean energy strategies such as green roofs
- “Address dysfunctional and exploitative development practices such as land speculation and unserviceable sprawl”, by, for example, implementing and enforcing clear regulations and introducing taxes to increase own revenues
Consider shared platforms to facilitate and support the coordination of disaster risk research and partnerships
The Himalayan Risk Research Institute (HRI) is developing a platform for disaster risk reduction students, researchers and young professionals to conduct research and share findings to inform policy and practice. The platform aims to build resilience through a scientific approach to DRR initiatives in Nepal. Consider establishing a DRR coordination platform in partnership with local and national government and non-government organisations, national and international research institutes to:
- Facilitate and promote the work and research of young scientists, researchers and professionals to build a scientific base for local DRR initiatives
- Establish a “skill transfer mechanism” whereby training, field research and workshops can build the knowledge and skills of young scientists and professionals and in turn benefit local DRR activities
- Share research and findings, and establish local databases to inform local governments on disaster preparedness and response activities that aim to build resilience
- Involve young people in the co-production of local development planning
Consider the role of digital government in the management and communication of disaster risk
legislation policy guidance
Data management and risk communications have been in a constant process of adaptation throughout the pandemic. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has released a summary of the main challenges and learnings for public administrators who manage data and communicate risk across Central America. ECLAC has identified digital government as an essential feature for public administration and disaster management. Consider their recommendations to strengthen the processes run by local government offices during the recovery phase.
Lessons for digital government
- Increase the role and use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in governmental procedures and processes
- Coordinate, through those ICTs, databases across different offices and Ministries, and levels of government
- Invest in the digitalization of society, from schools to public offices, to investment in infrastructure and subsidies for equipment
- Integrate society into a feedback loop of communication through digital tools, as a measure of accountability and as a constant process of evaluation of services
Examples from Central America
- Establish “home office” schemes for government employees during the response and recovery of COVID-19
- Use ICTs to centralize information about the spread of COVID-19 and the amount of resources available across hospitals and clinics. Apps could also be useful to communicate risk to the public and provide medical appointments through video calls
- Use communication apps (e.g. WhatsApp), to continue online classes during the recovery phase, or as part of hybrid, combined online and face-to-face schemes
- Make public procedures accessible through online platforms, so that people do not need to visit public offices during the recovery phase
Challenges to address digital governance
- Integrate digitalization of public services into the wider public agenda
- Identify available infrastructure/resources that are available. Identify new resources needed
- Involve communities in the process of digitalization and government evaluation (see TMB Issue 38 on co-production)
- Generate strategies to support inter-organizational cooperation
- See also TMB Issue 37 Briefing A on risk communications as part of the local resilience capability.
Consider the vulnerability of agricultural producers and workers after COVID-19.
Like many other sectors, agricultural production has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Farmers and workers in rural areas in developing countries live with low levels of income and scarce access to public services so disasters and pandemics increase their vulnerability. Even so, the sector provides an opportunity for economic recovery, given that in countries such as Mexico agriculture grew by up to 20% during 2020. The Agricultural Association of Culiacan River in Mexico has implemented measures to protect and prevent the spread of infection between agricultural workers and sustain their sources of income. Consider the priorities of their recovery approach for the sector:
Maintain agricultural production, livelihoods, and income (Michoacán experience)
- Strengthen the local chains of production and the local partnerships between agricultural and livestock producers and providers. In Michoacán, products that were mainly export-oriented are also being sold at the local level through the coordination of local farmers and governments
- Implement subsidies at the local and state levels to protect small and medium-sized producers against increases in the price of inputs (e.g. farming equipment), particularly given the increased demand for such inputs during the recovery stages
- Take advantage of existing local, regional, and international treaties and agreements that facilitate commerce and the exchange of products. In the absence of such arrangements, governments and financial institutions should provide financial guarantees to enable small producers to participate in these markets in the medium term
Protect the health and safety of agricultural workers and farmers. Increase preventive measures (Sinaloa experience)
- Supply PPE to agricultural workers and increase sanitization measures in agricultural facilities
- Implement sanitization protocols for the pickup and transport of workers to the field and back to their residency
- Identify workers at risk because of previous health conditions, or because of dangerous working environments. Identify and prevent children and young teenagers from working in the fields
Consider Financial Technology and Digital Government as policy delivery tools
This briefing presents examples of how FinTech and Digital Government have been used in countries as a policy delivery tool to help individuals and companies cope with the disruption created by the pandemic. We present some examples of how governments can include FinTech and Digital Government in their recovery and renewal strategies. Read this briefing in full by following the source link below to The Manchester Briefing Issue 41 (p.3-5)
Consider international examples of COVID-19 mapping and vulnerability
This case study, written by Eduardo Robles Chavez and the Manchester Briefing team, presents examples of effective vulnerability mapping during COVID-19 in New Zealand and Wales, contrasting these with Mexico and Chile where mapping focused only on infection rates. Read this case study by following the source link below (p.13-16)
Consider lessons learned from previous crises for COVID-19 recovery and renewal
COVID-19 differs from previous crises in terms of its scale, its complex and prolonged nature, and the fragilities that it has exposed. Yet, the disruptions and losses experienced are broadly similar to those brought about by other recent major emergencies. Consider the lessons learned from previous disaster recovery efforts that aim to “promote longer-term, integrated thinking and planning, to create pathways out of the pandemic that more effectively support recovery” and renewal:
- Analyse how the crisis has changed vulnerability (prolonged crises in particular). Use this knowledge to inform recovery strategies and renewal initiatives (e.g. Ecuador)
- Recognise the long-term needs of recovery and renewal. Acknowledge that the impacts of pandemic are not static and will not end on a particular date (e.g. India). A flexible and adaptable approach will support longer-term activities that can change where and when required
- Plan recovery and resilience programmes that integrate actions to deal with the risk of other hazards that can interact and exacerbate the impacts of the current crisis (e.g. Ethiopia & Mozambique)
- Implement an approach that targets the most vulnerable and marginalised sectors of the population, given the uneven impacts of the pandemic and response strategies (e.g. Montserrat)
- Depoliticise, as far as possible, the recovery agenda by establishing the needs of those more vulnerable above political interests (e.g. Chennai)
- Understand recovery and renewal as a holistic process that focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 on the economic, social, and mental wellbeing of communities (e.g. Dominica)
- Support community-building activities and engage the community in recovery and mitigation activities (e.g. Colombia)
Consider recovery and renewal as an opportunity to increase community access to locally produced food
Latin America benefits from vast access to natural resources, however many people living in rural areas have limited access to locally produced food and rely heavily on imported goods. The fragilities in food supply chains were exacerbated by COVID-19, which left people at risk of not being able to meet their immediate food needs. Recovery and renewal provides an opportunity to support Latin Americas rural agricultural sector to renew its practices, promote community health and resilience, and contribute to achieving environmental sustainability. Consider the actions proposed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for COVID-19 recovery and renewal:
Transform food production
- Finance and support the production of a diverse range of agricultural products. Invest in multi-crop programs together with small and medium producers
- Reduce food waste by providing access to locally produced food and resources
- Prioritise local consumption and distribution of agricultural products over exports
- Promote the adoption of healthy diets with local produce through voluntary information groups, labelling policies, eating healthy campaigns, and fiscal incentives to schools that purchase local produce
- Provide quality education and skills-training to the rural agricultural sector
- Establish sustainable practices in the agricultural sector, that recognize the diversity of the ecosystem and the cultural and traditional practices or its habitants
- Increase the infrastructure for public services and connect with urban areas. This can help to reduce rural vulnerability and enables producers to access urban markets for their products
- Promote water conservation and soil maintenance practices
- Protect the ecosystem by delimiting conservation areas outside of agricultural practices
- Implement early warning systems and risk reduction programmes focused on local hazards
Consider recovery and renewal initiatives that align agriculture with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs
Agriculture is fundamental to sustaining livelihoods, by providing employment, income, and being key in the response to climate change – and food security and nutrition are challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Recovery and renewal present an opportunity to reform agricultural production in line with the SDGs. One of the challenges for such reforms is funding them, given that post-COVID-19 economies will have high levels of fiscal debt. Consider the strategies proposed by United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to fund the recovery and renewal actions needed for a new and more sustainable agricultural sector:
Funding and finance for response and recovery
- Focus response and recovery on food security across the most vulnerable regions, by supporting consumers and producers to acquire essential goods
- Take a regional approach to fund programs among several communities, cities, or counties, instead of focusing only on the local jurisdiction
- Implement focused tax discounts for the most vulnerable producers and consumers
- Promote payments for environmental services (PES) as a mechanism to transfer resources to producers who commit to protecting the environment, or provide an environmental conservation service
- Involve firms in specific social projects, e.g. through "parafiscal" taxes - those taxes based on employees, imports, or exports, and are used to fund part of specific programs, reducing budget pressures without risking the quality of the intervention
Funding and financing to renew
- New types of funding should be used to achieve the sustainable transformation that agriculture needs e.g. Defra’s ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive 2021 (UK) or the Agricultural Sustainability Framework (Australia)
- Invest in climate change mitigation measures in agriculture. For examples, see the following papers: ‘Technical options for climate change mitigation in agriculture’ (European Union); or ‘Strategies for mitigating climate change in agriculture’ (USA)
- Start financial inclusion programs for vulnerable agricultural producers. Such programs can be conditional on producers adopting sustainable cropping practices
- Define new approaches to social responsibility, in which firms commit to work with local government and NGOs in risk reduction programmes
Consider recovery and renewal strategies that build multi-hazard resilience
The proliferation of concurrent disasters (including natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and technological threats), alongside COVID-19, highlights the need for recovery and renewal strategies that tackle the multiple hazards facing society. Croatia’s National Recovery Plan considers both the lessons learned by the COVID-19 crisis and the earthquake experienced in 2020. Consider some of Croatia’s recovery and resilience strategies:
Economy, education, the environment & research
- Introduce new labour market policies that focus on building green and digital skills, and specifically target vulnerable groups
- Recognise the economic value of the culture and tourism industries through targeted investment
- Review the social welfare system, establish new social services, and implement measures that increase “coverage, adequacy, and targeting of social benefits”
- Reform the education system by updating school curricula, “increase access to early childhood education and care, and implement single-shift, full-day teaching”
- Establish partnerships between universities, research centres, and the private sector, to inform the development of context specific risk management strategies through collaborative research and action
Digitalization of government
- Decentralise governance practices, to simplify and increase the efficiency of local government systems
- Increase the use of ICT in statutory agencies (e.g. health care and judiciary systems)
- Implement community outreach services, to promote and integrate resilience building activities at the local level
- Targeted investment in repair and reconstruction of infrastructure impacted by the earthquake and COVID-19, both public and private, including local heritage sites
- Regulate, create, or change local building regulations, codes of practice and requirements for infrastructure, to consider the needs of a multi-hazard management approach
- Improve the water and waste management system through strategies that focus on the environment and transitioning to a circular economy
Consider renewed urban planning strategies
Historically, public health crises, such as pandemics, have transformed various elements of city planning - namely, urban ecology, sanitation systems, public parks, street design and housing regulations - and how people inhabit and interact within urban areas. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed various pre-existing problems, but also brought new opportunities to city planning. National, regional and local governments have the opportunity to address both old and new problems in their recovery and renewal plans. The UN recommends the following:
- “Strengthen coordination between cities, regions and territories through the creation of shared decision-making platforms”, in order to leverage shared interests and align policies
- Recognize the link between public health and environmental quality, and introduce environmental protection measures, such as blue-green networks (natural and semi-natural landscape elements like trees and ponds), urban growth boundaries, land use and zoning regulations, and carbon-taxes to reduce ecosystem deterioration and improve air quality
- Improve logistics and supply chains, including:
- “connectivity within cities and regions through national urban policies and plans that facilitate the secure flow and movement of goods, services and labour
- Building regional resilience by strengthening localized means of production for essential provisions such as food and medical supply chains, by, for example, incentivizing investments that support local means of production and/or shorten supply chains”
- Increase resilience, by identifying and improving urban “weak spots”. These are locations vulnerable to shocks or stresses due to issues such as overcrowding, limited or poor connectivity, or being situated in flood plains
- Prioritise neighbourhoods in city planning, with a focus on developing “self-contained and socially inclusive communities”. Consider the concept of a 15-minute neighbourhood, where all facilities can be accessed within a 15 minute walk
- Develop a strategy for public spaces and urban mobility to renew public areas and their potential uses. For example, in Milan:
- The “Strade Aperte” project which details Milan’s strategies for cycling and pedestrianization to “guarantee measures of distance in urban travel and for sustainable mobility”
- The “Piazza Aperte” project which aims to “bring public space back to the centre of the neighbourhood and the life of the inhabitants”
- Address housing issues through public health strategies, recognising the social, economic and environmental benefits of adequate housing
- Identify and tackle the fragilities in infrastructure, e.g. the design of buildings such as offices, factories, plants, and hospitals that have emerged as epicentres for COVID-19 outbreaks
Consider the role of new educational models after COVID-19
During COVID-19, schools were forced to move to remote delivery of teaching. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) note that high levels of pre-existing inequalities (e.g. poverty) have exacerbated the negative impacts of the pandemic on children’s education. The World Bank report predicts that the “shock on human capital will substantially reduce intergenerational mobility and the likelihood of children from low educated families to complete secondary school”. The bank also presents a call to action to address the significant learning loss experienced by Latin American and Caribbean children. As countries are transitioning back to face-to-face or to more hybrid styles of education delivery, consider:
- Work in partnership with schools, community groups (e.g. parental committees) and local social care services to identify vulnerable children and develop targeted measures (e.g. through remedial programmes) to ensure that schools are teaching at an appropriate level for all children. Specifically take into account the learning needs of children from lower-income families who may not have had the resources at home to keep up with remote learning measures
- For example, ‘Alerta Escuela’, Peru uses early warning systems to identify students who are at risk of dropping out or who are in need of targeted interventions
- Guide and support schools on how best to combine remote and in-person learning (e.g. the Ceibal initiative in Uruguay). To increase accessibility, blended learning recovery solutions should consider low- or no-tech options (e.g. educational TV programmes/local radio/community youth groups)
- Design a long-term transformational plan for accelerating the digital transformation of local and national Education Management and Information Systems (EMIS), for example:
- The World Bank is collaborating with education agencies to establish a “new generation of EMIS based on an enterprise architecture focusing on learning data”. The programme will collate best practices, tools and guidance that aim to enable education agencies to implement technology-driven solutions that accelerate cost effective educational programmes and generate high investment returns
See also TMB Issue 33 – a case study which explores the “attainment gap” and digital divide, detailing international strategies that aim to support children to catch up on learning time lost during the pandemic
Consider city examples of local economic and financial recovery
The ‘Building Urban Economic Resilience during and after COVID-19’ produced by UN-HABITAT and partners outlines the different economic recovery initiatives adopted by cities across the world. Urban areas, as “engines of growth” have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and are predicted to take a leading role in recovery. This project is focused on “strengthening the capacities of local governments globally, to design, implement, and monitor sustainable, resilient and inclusive COVID-19 economic responses, recovery, and rebuilding plans”. The document presents city case studies from the African Region, Arab Region, Asia and the Pacific Region, Europe Region, and the Latin America and the Caribbean Region. Over the next two issues of TMB, we will present city recovery initiatives from each of these regions. This case study focuses on the Europe Region and the African Region:
Barcelona, Spain, is a city which frequently experiences “flash floods and coastal flooding, as well as heat waves and forest fires”. Prior to COVID-19, Barcelona was grappling with rapidly “growing social inequalities powered by low rental housing affordability and growing energy poverty”. Barcelona City Council have identified seven strategic economic recovery goals, including:
- “New models to make Barcelona a more resilient city;
- Maintain and strengthen the city’s business network;
- Protect jobs and foster employment;
- Promote local consumption as a priority;
- Protect and relaunch the city’s international reputation;
- Open up Barcelona to talent, to investment and to visitors;
- Define transformational solutions with a metropolitan vision”
The measures through which the City Council aim to achieve the above goal include:
- Provide subsidies and funding to increase business liquidity and mitigate the damage caused to the “production network” by the pandemic (e.g. cash flow challenges)
- Establish training and advice services to enhance local skills, targeted at high-risk or vulnerable groups within the economy
- Employ strategic communication and marketing programmes to promote and regenerate tourism in the city
- Design economic development tools which will enable “synergies between the city’s socio-economic and business networks”
- Review and amend regulations and administrative processes to generate flexibility in the city’s economic reactivation
Tirana, Albania, experienced two major earthquakes in 2019 which had devastating impacts on over 2,000 homes. The city was not equipped with an emergency preparedness plan prior to the pandemic or the 2019 earthquakes, which led to the municipality relying solely on central government support and guidance during both events. The municipality is focusing on the following recovery priorities:
- Design and develop a “Crisis and Resilience Management Plan to include pandemic and earthquake response”
- Implement “Orbital Forest”, a green recovery strategy which aims to plant a “wall of 2 million trees” around the city of Tirana
- Take advantage of the opportunities resented by COVID-19 to renew and reconstruct the Kombinati neighbourhood which was most severely impacted by the 2019 earthquakes and transform it to be a “smart city neighbourhood”
Arua, Uganda, is challenged by “heavy run-off water which regularly destroys crops and homes, significantly reducing agricultural production levels and housing quality”. Local government COVID-19 recovery initiatives include:
- Focus on the agricultural sector through “community sensitization” on urban farming and increasing the capacities of farmers to build and adopt new modern farming methods. This includes local government lobbying for financial and technical funding support for farmers for longer-term recovery
- Provide business development support and connect small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to targeted funding
- Provide business continuity support by “automating ICT infrastructure” and helping businesses to build their technical capacities
Harare, Zimbabwe, is faced with “rapid urbanisations, deindustrialisation and increasing numbers of people working in the informal sector, leading to urban poverty, barriers to service delivery and lagging education, health, water and sanitation, and housing systems”. The local government recovery priorities include:
- Boost recovery through the informal sector, by building “safer and more modern market spaces”
- Improve public sanitation and work to support and increase accessibility of services, particularly for women who have experienced increased gender-based violence during lockdown. The local government have partnered with UNDP, the national government and Oxfam on this initiative
- In partnership with Oxfam, the Harare city government are working to engage organised groups (e.g. women’s savings groups) to target women and employ them to support city recovery initiatives
 Including selected countries in Central Asia, Western Asia, and north America
 Ibid 1.