Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider tools to support and drive local economic recovery
Economic strategy

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:

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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”
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Consider preventing pandemics through a global reform of pandemic preparedness and response
Learning lessons

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response recently issued a report calling on the international community to employ a package of reforms to transform the global pandemic preparedness and response system to prevent a future pandemic. The report finds that the current system is unfit to prevent another novel and highly infectious disease from developing into a pandemic. The report recommends a transformational reform of the existing pandemic prevention, preparedness and response system, including:

  • Form a “Global Health Threats Council” to ensure political commitment to pandemic preparedness, prevention and response. In the Council:
    • Assign responsibility to key actors through “peer recognition and scrutiny”
    • Establish a ‘Pandemic Framework Convention’ in all countries within the next six months
  • Introduce an international surveillance system to:
    • Enable the WHO to share information about outbreaks of concern, and
    • Rapidly deploy experts to investigate such outbreaks
  • Immediate investment in national preparedness by:
    • Reviewing current preparedness plans
    • Allocating the required financing and resources to ensure readiness for another health event
  • Make The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) a global platform to transform the current market model to one targeted at delivering global public goods (vaccines, diagnostics, supplies)
  • Establish a funding model for the WHO to increase its agency and financing
  • Develop an “International Pandemic Financing Facility” to:
    • Fund ongoing preparedness
    • Enable immediate finance support for response if a pandemic is declared
  • Adopt a political declaration which commits to transformative reform of global pandemic preparedness and response
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Consider how to meet the humanitarian needs of migrants and refugees
Vulnerable people

Migrants and refugees face a multitude of health and safety challenges that have been intensified by the pandemic, such as: losing employment and income; eviction and homelessness; and lack of access to 'safety net' support. In addition, some countries have temporarily suspended issuing residency permits, leaving people with irregular status in their country of asylum and further impacting their access to employment and social services. To support migrants and refugees, consider:

  • Participate in national resettlement programmes (e.g. SRP UK) to guide preparations, ongoing support and integration of migrants and refugees into local communities
  • Establish a working group to enable collaborative working between local councils, community groups and related agencies to determine how local authorities can meet legislative requirements of resettlement programmes
  • Inform and prepare local communities where migrants and refugees are to be resettled
  • Identify registered and unregistered refugee populations in communities
  • Conduct risk and vulnerability assessment mapping
  • Include migrants and refugees in social protection schemes to support those who have lost income generating opportunities
  • How systems will protect migrants and refugees from harm, irrespective of their status, with access to essential health and social care
  • Agree that immigration status is not a legitimate basis to deny access to essential public services (e.g. healthcare, vaccination), and communicate this to public services, migrant and refugee populations, and wider groups
  • Invest in risk communication and community engagement at local levels to disseminate information in the relevant languages of migrants and refugees
  • Partner with humanitarian actors to provide services
  • Establish humanitarian service points or 'safe spaces' which are not subject to immigration enforcement activities, where humanitarian actors can provide essential services to vulnerable migrants
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Consider establishing an audit programme to certify and assure the COVID safe technology adoption of hospitality venues
Telecommunications and digital

As hospitality venues prepare for a safe re-opening, technology can support customer safety and rebuild client confidence. For example, the necessity of contactless service delivery has accelerated and motivated the wider adoption of new technologies across hospitality venues. Consider developing an audit and certification process that supports and guides hospitality venues in the adoption of new technology:

  • Identify actions that can make hospitality venues more COVID-safe using technology e.g. replace tangible menus with an ordering app, use scannable QR codes, replace room keys with mobile keys, contactless communications using customer-facing technology tools, guest communications via chatbots/messaging platforms, contactless temperature checks at entrances, air quality improvement and ventilation via bipolar ionisation technology
  • Use the identified actions to establish a checklist of practices that hospitality venues may be audited against
  • Identify the minimum requirement for hospitality venues to be eligible for certification of COVID-safe technology adoption and service provision
  • Identify how the hospitality venue protects its customers by using secure platforms
  • Use the checklist and minimum requirements as part of an audit process to certify the safety of hospitality venues
  • Apply the audit process to hospitality venues
  • Use the audit process to identify further actions that hospitality venues can implement to increase their COVID-safety
  • Publicise a list of certified hospitality venues
  • Provide certified hospitality venues with certificates/logos that they can display in their window and online
  • Have a whistleblower procedure for staff and customers to report serious breaches
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Consider using a geographic information system (GIS) to provide spatial and geographic data that can assist local response and recovery from COVID-19
Telecommunications and digital

GISs use computer-based tools to allow users to create interactive queries, edit and analyse spatial data and to visually share results by presenting them as maps or other infographics in real-time. During COVID-19 GISs have been used to reveal patterns and trends to help communicate information to the public, develop forecasting tools to identify trends in the virus’ transmission, and to support resource allocation during COVID response. Consider using GIS to:

  • Develop publicly available maps. In Singapore, a publicly available real-time map updates on the current situation in public spaces. This can help residents to plan their activities safely e.g. show how busy public spaces are and the location of less busy spaces
  • Provide near real-time updates of estimated wait times at Accident & Emergency. In Northern Ireland, a dashboard is updated hourly by NIDirect (an official government website) that provides information on open hospitals and wait times
  • Inform people about changes in business operations and location of key services. In New Zealand, officials built a map that shows open businesses and whether or not the organization’s operations have been impacted e.g. reduced hours or closures
  • Develop self-reporting health systems. In Switzerland, public health officials built a crowdsourcing application for people to anonymously self-report their health status. In addition, they can report their post code, age, size of household, living situation, and pre-existing health conditions. The results are shown on a map that health officials can use to assess gaps in confirmed cases and areas where people are self-reporting symptoms, and to identify areas for intervention
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Consider how to transform risks associated with climate change and COVID-19 into long-term opportunities
Living sustainably

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyday life which has emphasised concerns about environmental sustainability and resilience. Lessons to consider for dealing with climate change include capitalising on people's increasing interest/knowledge in climate risks, and associated opportunities. Consider how measures can help mitigate or adapt to climate change, or can exacerbate existing barriers:

  • Environmental considerations:
    • Implement nature-based solutions that aim to increase the resilience of ecosystems e.g. considering water security and pollution
    • Be aware of potential for increased illegal deforestation and poaching (as a consequence of less governmental control during lockdown)
    • Mitigate the interruption of environmental monitoring projects that can cause data gaps in climate/environmental data
  • Social considerations:
    • Assess changes in working conditions e.g. frequent, or sole use of virtual solutions, encouraging car-free days, reductions in energy consumption in businesses, and reductions in waste
    • Renovate and diversify the tourism sector towards sustainability so capitalise on environmental awareness since COVID-19
    • Develop policies that help reduce unemployment and mitigate potentially harmful domestic migration to rural areas that could cause environmental degradation
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