City2City
HLPF 2020 Side-Event: Imagine a post-COVID-19 city—with women's human rights

08 July 2020 - This panel discussion will challenge us to imagine the post COVID-19 city that respects women’s human rights, builds resilience and prevents crises, and puts feminist and women’s movements’ aspirations into local action. Panelists will include representatives from the feminist and women’s movement, UN agencies and mayors. The event will open up to a Town Hall meeting using Zoom and will have simultaneous interpretation.

08 July 2020 - This panel discussion will challenge us to imagine the post-COVID-19 city that respects women’s human rights, builds resilience and prevents crises, and puts feminist and women’s movements’ aspirations into local action. Panelists will include representatives from the feminist and women’s movement, UN agencies, and mayors. The event will open up to a Town Hall meeting using Zoom and will have simultaneous interpretation.

This side-event to the High-Level Political Forum 2020 is being organized by the International Alliance of Women, Feminist and Women's Movement Action Plan, NGO CSW/NY, Habitat (To Be Confirmed) and UN Women (To Be Confirmed).

Event Details:

COVID-19 and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery

02 July 2020 - This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity.

02 July 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is unleashing a human development crisis. On some dimensions of human development, conditions today are equivalent to levels of deprivation last seen in the mid-1980s.

But the crisis is hitting hard on all of human development’s constitutive elements: income (with the largest contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression), health (directly causing a death toll over 300,000 and indirectly leading potentially to an additional 6,000 child deaths every day from preventable causes over the next 6 months) and education (with effective out-of-school rates – meaning, accounting for the inability to access the internet – in primary education expected to drop to the levels of actual rates of the mid-1980s levels). This, not counting less visible indirect effects, including increased domestic violence, yet to be fully documented.

The pandemic was superimposed on unresolved tensions between people and technology, between people and the planet, between the haves and the have-nots. These tensions were already shaping a new generation of inequalities—pertaining to enhanced capabilities, the new necessities of the 21st century, as defined in the 2019 Human Development Report. But the response to the crisis can shape how those tensions are addressed and whether inequalities in human development are reduced.

This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity. To assess the crisis, the note draws from original simulations that are based on an adjusted Human Development Index—with the education dimension modified to reflect the effects of school closures and mitigation measures—and that incorporate current projections of gross national income (GNI) per capita for 2020.

The simulations suggest conditions today would correspond to a steep and unprecedented decline in human development. With almost 9 in 10 students out of school and deep recessions in most economies (including a 4 percent drop in GNI per capita worldwide), the decline in the index –reflecting a narrowing in capabilities-- would be equivalent to erasing all the progress in human development of the past six years. Importantly, if conditions in school access are restored, capabilities related to education would immediately bounce back – while the income dimension would follow the path of the economic recovery post-crisis. The simulations also show the importance of promoting equity in capabilities. In a scenario with more equitable internet access—where each country closes the gap with the leaders in its human development category—the decline in human development would be more than halved. This would be eminently affordable. In 2018 it was estimated that $100 billion would be needed to close the gap in internet access in low- and middle-income countries—or about 1 percent of the extraordinary fiscal programmes announced around the world so far.

The note suggests three principles to shape the response to the crisis:

  • Look at the response through an equity lens.i Countries, communities and groups already lagging in enhanced capabilities will be particularly affected, and leaving them further behind will have long-term impacts on human development.
  • Focus on people’s enhanced capabilities. This could reconcile apparent tradeoffs between public health and economic activity (a means to the end of expanding capabilities) but would also help build resilience for future shocks.
  • Follow a coherent multidimensional approach. Since the crisis has multiple interconnected dimensions (health, economic, and several social aspects, decisions on the allocation of fiscal resources that can either further lock-in or break free from carbon-intensive production and consumption), a systemic approach—rather than a sector-by-sector sequential approach—is essential. A recent survey conducted in 14 countries found that 71 percent of adults globally consider that climate change is as serious a crisis as COVID-19, with two-thirds supporting government actions to prioritise climate change during the recovery. ii

The United Nations has proposed a framework for the immediate socioeconomic response,iii with which this note is fully consistent and meant to inform and further flesh out both the analysis of the crisis and possible responses.

Finally, the note also highlights the importance of collective action—at the community, country, and global levels. And the response to this crisis is showing how people around the world are responding collectively. The adoption of social distancing behaviour—which in some cases started before formal policies were put in place—could not possibly be fully enforced. It depended on the voluntary cooperation of billions of people. And it was done in response to a shared global risk that brought to the fore as a priority something other than having economies grow more rapidly. If we needed proof of concept that humanity can respond collectively to a shared global challenge, we are now living through it.

Read the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

COVID-19 and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery

02 July 2020 - This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity. 

02 July 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is unleashing a human development crisis. On some dimensions of human development, conditions today are equivalent to levels of deprivation last seen in the mid-1980s.

But the crisis is hitting hard on all of human development’s constitutive elements: income (with the largest contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression), health (directly causing a death toll over 300,000 and indirectly leading potentially to an additional 6,000 child deaths every day from preventable causes over the next 6 months) and education (with effective out-of-school rates – meaning, accounting for the inability to access the internet – in primary education expected to drop to the levels of actual rates of the mid-1980s levels). This, not counting less visible indirect effects, including increased domestic violence, yet to be fully documented.

The pandemic was superimposed on unresolved tensions between people and technology, between people and the planet, between the haves and the have-nots. These tensions were already shaping a new generation of inequalities—pertaining to enhanced capabilities, the new necessities of the 21st century, as defined in the 2019 Human Development Report. But the response to the crisis can shape how those tensions are addressed and whether inequalities in human development are reduced.

This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity. To assess the crisis, the note draws from original simulations that are based on an adjusted Human Development Index—with the education dimension modified to reflect the effects of school closures and mitigation measures—and that incorporate current projections of gross national income (GNI) per capita for 2020.

The simulations suggest conditions today would correspond to a steep and unprecedented decline in human development. With almost 9 in 10 students out of school and deep recessions in most economies (including a 4 percent drop in GNI per capita worldwide), the decline in the index –reflecting a narrowing in capabilities-- would be equivalent to erasing all the progress in human development of the past six years. Importantly, if conditions in school access are restored, capabilities related to education would immediately bounce back – while the income dimension would follow the path of the economic recovery post-crisis. The simulations also show the importance of promoting equity in capabilities. In a scenario with more equitable internet access—where each country closes the gap with the leaders in its human development category—the decline in human development would be more than halved. This would be eminently affordable. In 2018 it was estimated that $100 billion would be needed to close the gap in internet access in low- and middle-income countries—or about 1 percent of the extraordinary fiscal programmes announced around the world so far.

The note suggests three principles to shape the response to the crisis:

  • Look at the response through an equity lens.i Countries, communities and groups already lagging in enhanced capabilities will be particularly affected, and leaving them further behind will have long-term impacts on human development.
  • Focus on people’s enhanced capabilities. This could reconcile apparent tradeoffs between public health and economic activity (a means to the end of expanding capabilities) but would also help build resilience for future shocks.
  • Follow a coherent multidimensional approach. Since the crisis has multiple interconnected dimensions (health, economic, and several social aspects, decisions on the allocation of fiscal resources that can either further lock-in or break free from carbon-intensive production and consumption), a systemic approach—rather than a sector-by-sector sequential approach—is essential. A recent survey conducted in 14 countries found that 71 percent of adults globally consider that climate change is as serious a crisis as COVID-19, with two-thirds supporting government actions to prioritise climate change during the recovery. ii

The United Nations has proposed a framework for the immediate socioeconomic response,iii with which this note is fully consistent and meant to inform and further flesh out both the analysis of the crisis and possible responses.

Finally, the note also highlights the importance of collective action—at the community, country, and global levels. And the response to this crisis is showing how people around the world are responding collectively. The adoption of social distancing behaviour—which in some cases started before formal policies were put in place—could not possibly be fully enforced. It depended on the voluntary cooperation of billions of people. And it was done in response to a shared global risk that brought to the fore as a priority something other than having economies grow more rapidly. If we needed proof of concept that humanity can respond collectively to a shared global challenge, we are now living through it.

Read the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

Cities as bridges between SDGs and citizens in a post-COVID-19 world: elements for socio-economic recovery

The Venice City Solutions Series is a yearly event addressing issues that are central to the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local level, with specific focus to the

role of local and regional governments as key drivers of the 2030 Agenda. In 2019, the event focused on how the SDGs can be an instrument to create citizenship and to promote the values of the Agenda as well as on strategies to bring the SDGs closer to the people.

Each year, the organizers of Venice City Solutions 2030 bring the recommendations of the event to the formal mechanism of the HLPF. This year, this official side event has adapted the narrative of SDG role in creating citizenship to the situation created by the COVID 19 pandemic. 

As the COVID-19 global health crisis has demonstrated, we live in an uncertain world; and recovering from the current crisis is going to require both strong individual action and a monumental collective effort. The contribution and collaboration of citizens in the recovery phase of the pandemic is going to be even more relevant than in our recent past. Local and regional governments are responding to the emergency by keeping essential services going, caring for the most vulnerable and finding rapid solutions to adapt to changing and unpredictable needs. Socio-economic recovery, with a global economy that has come to a sudden stop, is going to require local development and a lot of local action. Local and regional governments are going to play a substantial role in bringing the citizens along, on one end, and to support local businesses and local economic action, on the other. Within this new context, coordination between spheres of government and policy coherence between central and local governments will be more important than ever. Multi-level governance needs to be strengthened both vertically and horizontally.

The event will gather representatives of local and regional governments, their associations, Mayors, Governors and other governmental representatives and selected partners to discuss the way ahead for SDG implementation at local level.

This HLPF side event is co-organized by AICCRE, UCLG, UNDP, UN-Habitat and the UN SDG Action Campaign.

Tackling Social Norms: A game changer for gender inequalities

02 July 2020 - The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population. The analysis reveals that despite decades of progress closing the equality gap between men and women, close to 90 percent of men and women hold some sort of bias against women, providing new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality. The publication also includes the GSNI trends for 31 countries, representing 59 percent of the global population. The trends show that while in some countries there have been improvements, in others, attitudes appear to have worsened in recent years, signaling that progress cannot be taken for granted.

02 July 2020 - Gender disparities are a persistent form of inequality in every country. Despite remarkable progress in some areas, no country in the world—rich or poor—has achieved gender equality. All too often, women and girls are discriminated against in health, in education, at home, and in the labour market with negative repercussions for their freedoms.

This is the time for a reality check. The commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+25) provides an opportunity to reassess the path to gender equality and adjust actions to close gender gaps.

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population.

The analysis reveals that, despite decades of progress closing the equality gap between men and women, close to 90 percent of men and women hold some sort of bias against women, providing new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality.

According to the index, about half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders, and over 40 percent feel that men make better business executives and that men have more right to a job when jobs are scarce. 28 percent think it is justified for a man to beat his wife.

The publication also includes the GSNI trends for 31 countries, representing 59 percent of the global population. The trends show that while in some countries there have been improvements, in others, attitudes appear to have worsened in recent years, signaling that progress cannot be taken for granted.

Read the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

Temporary Basic Income (TBI)

This paper provides estimates for a Temporary Basic Income (TBI), a minimum guaranteed income above the poverty line, for vulnerable people in 132 developing countries.

Posted on July 23, 2020

Download the full report from https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/transitions-series/temporary-basic-income--tbi--for-developing-countries.html

As the rate of new COVID-19 cases accelerates across the developing world, it exposes the potentially devastating costs of job losses and income reversals. Unconditional emergency cash transfers can mitigate the worst immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis on poor and near-poor households that do not currently have access to social assistance or insurance protection. This paper provides estimates for a Temporary Basic Income (TBI), a minimum guaranteed income above the poverty line, for vulnerable people in 132 developing countries.

A TBI amounts to between 0.27 and 0.63 percent of their combined GDPs, depending on the policy choice:



i. top-ups on existing average incomes in each country up to a vulnerability threshold;

ii. lump-sum transfers that are sensitive to cross-country differences in the median standard of living; or,

iii. lump-sum transfers that are uniform regardless of the country where people live.

A temporary basic income is within reach and can inform a larger conversation about how to build comprehensive social protection systems that make the poor and near-poor more resilient to economic downturns in the future.

Temporary Basic Income to protect the world's poorest people could slow the surge in COVID-19 cases, says UNDP

The immediate introduction of a Temporary Basic Income for the world’s poorest people could slow the current surge in COVID-19 cases by enabling nearly three billion people to stay at home, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released today.

Posted on July 23, 2020

Article retrieved from https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/news-centre/news/2020/Temporary_Basic_Income_to_protect_the_worlds_poorest_people_slow_COVID19.html

Photo: UNDP Bangladesh/Fahad Kaizer - Many of the huge numbers of people not covered by social insurance programmes are informal workers, low-waged, women and young people, refugees and migrants, and people with disabilities – and they are the ones hardest hit by this crisis. 

New York – The immediate introduction of a Temporary Basic Income for the world’s poorest people could slow the current surge in COVID-19 cases by enabling nearly three billion people to stay at home, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released today.

The report, Temporary Basic Income: Protecting Poor and Vulnerable People in Developing Countries estimates that it would cost from $199 billion per month to provide a time-bound, guaranteed basic income to the 2.7 billion people living below or just above the poverty line in 132 developing countries.

The report concludes that the measure is feasible and urgently needed, with the pandemic now spreading at a rate of more than 1.5 million new cases per week, particularly in developing countries, where seven out of ten workers make a living through informal markets and cannot earn money if they are at home.

Many of the huge numbers of people not covered by social insurance programmes are informal workers, low-waged, women and young people, refugees and migrants, and people with disabilities – and they are the ones hardest hit by this crisis. UNDP has carried out assessments on the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 in more than 60 countries in the past few months and the evidence shows that workers who are not covered by social protection cannot stay at home without an income.

A Temporary Basic Income would give them the means to buy food and pay for health and education expenses. It is also financially within reach: a six-month Temporary Basic Income, for example, would require just 12 percent of the total financial response to COVID-19 expected in 2020, or the equivalent of one-third of what developing countries owe in external debt payments in 2020.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures. Introducing a Temporary Basic Income for the world’s poorest people has emerged as one option. This might have seemed impossible just a few months ago,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

“Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business. A Temporary Basic Income might enable governments to give people in lockdown a financial lifeline, inject cash back into local economies to help keep small businesses afloat, and slow the devastating spread of COVID-19,” he said.

A Temporary Basic Income is not a silver bullet solution to the economic hardship this pandemic has brought, however. Protecting jobs, expanding support to micro, small and medium enterprises, and using digital solutions to identify and access people who are excluded, are all measures that countries can take.

One way for countries to pay for a Temporary Basic Income would be to repurpose the funds they would use this year to service their debt. Developing and emerging economies will spend $3.1 trillion in debt repayment this year, according to official data. A comprehensive debt standstill for all developing countries, as called for by the UN Secretary-General, would allow countries to temporarily repurpose these funds into emergency measures to combat the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Several countries have already taken steps to introduce Temporary Basic Incomes. The government of Togo has distributed over $19.5 million in monthly financial aid to over 12 percent of the population through its cash transfer programme, mostly to women who work in the informal sector. Spain recently approved a monthly budget of €250 million to top up the incomes of 850,000 vulnerable families and 2.3 million individuals up to a minimum threshold.

COVID-19 has exacerbated existing global and national inequalities and has created new disparities that are hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest. With up to 100 million more people being pushed into extreme poverty in 2020, 1.4 billion children affected by school closures, and record-level unemployment and loss of livelihoods, UNDP predicts that global human development is on course to decline this year for the first time since the concept was introduced.

UNDP is the socio-economic lead for the UN system on COVID-19 recovery and is implementing social and economic recovery strategies in countries across the world.

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UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.

Learn more at undp.org or follow at @UNDP.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner's Statement on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - 17 October 2020

Despite the monumental challenges the world now faces, the COVID-19 pandemic presents us the world with a unique opportunity to press the “re-set button” towards a more sustainable future.

Statement on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - 17 October 2020

by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner 

The theme of this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all – is extremely pertinent in the era of COVID-19. The poorest have the highest risk of exposure to the virus and they have the least access to quality healthcare. And people living in conflict zones still face the most severe threats of hunger and even famine amid COVID-19. In the wake of the pandemic, global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in over 20 years while an additional 115 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year.

The pandemic is having a marked effect on workers in developing countries, where seven out of ten of them make a living through informal markets – many of them simply cannot earn a livelihood if they cannot leave their home due to lockdowns. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has estimated that the introduction of a Temporary Basic Income for 2.7 billion people living below or just above the poverty line, could halt the COVID-19 surge in an era when half the world lacks social protection and healthcare.

Indeed, the United Nations has long recognised that poverty is multidimensional -- that includes working to address environmental injustices that may result from climate change and environmental degradation. People living in poverty and other disadvantaged groups are being increasingly impacted by the risk of extreme weather including floods, storms and droughts as well as land degradation as the world contends with a  “staggering” rise in climate disasters. And the lives and livelihoods of people living in poverty are finely attuned to environmental conditions that are now changing rapidly. Indeed, climate change is affecting both the prevalence and depth of poverty, thereby contributing to inequality. Therefore, UNDP’s upcoming 2020 Human Development Report will focus on how to rekindle our relationship with nature and improve people’s lives today and in the future -- in balance with the planet. 

Despite the monumental challenges the world now faces, the COVID-19 pandemic presents us the world with a unique opportunity to press the “re-set button” towards a more sustainable future. On the ground in 170 countries, UNDP is not only helping countries to merely recover from the pandemic’s devastating socio-economic effects but to help them to build forward better towards an inclusive green economy -- for instance through our Climate Promise.  In a wider sense, we must transform our unsustainable production and consumption patterns, decouple economic growth from environmental degradation -- and tackle the structural causes of social and environmental inequalities in our societies. Doing so will help us to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – and to realise our global ambition to finally end poverty in all of its forms, everywhere.

Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Photo: UNDP Bangladesh/Fahad Kaizer - In the wake of the pandemic, global extreme poverty is expected to rise for the first time in over 20 years while an additional 115 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year. 

Statement retrieved from https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/news-centre/speeches/2020/international-day-for-the-eradication-of-poverty.html

Venice City Solutions 2030 - Visualising the SDGs in the city

Venice City Solutions 2030 is a yearly event to advance in the local implementation of the SDGs by identifying and sharing existing tools available to local, regional governments and its partners.

Each year, Venice focuses in one specific theme, becoming more than an event, a process to develop new narratives and build partnerships to advance on SDG implementation.

This time around we are advancing on how Agenda 2030 can be a long-term planning instrument for the city and how the SDGs play a role to assess, analyze and create a future vision for territories.



VCS is co-organized by United Cities and Local Government together with its Italian section AICCRE, UNDP, UN-Habitat and the UN SDG Action Campaign. The event counts with the support of Platform and the Frauhofer Institute. 

Given the present situation created by the COVID19 epidemic, the event will take place both online and in Venice (circumstances permitting) on 26 and 27th November 2020. Interpretation will be available in English, Spanish, French and Italian.

More info in the attached concept note and contacting us at info (at) city2city.network

Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption – UNDP Service Offer for COVID 19 response and recovery

Corruption and its consequences significantly impact COVID 19 response and recovery.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, the socio-economic impact of corruption and its implications for governance systems, including but not limited to the governance of the health sector, will be significant.

This UNDP document wants to offer some guidance for action during this challenging times.