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.

Building Back Better: Resilient Housing

5 August 2019 - For the 19th session of the Building Back Better Speaker Series, we focus on “Resilient Housing” we hear from Elizabeth Hausler, Founder, and CEO, Build Change and Santiago Uribe, Executive Director, Resilience Corporation Office of Medellin.

5 August 2019 - Building Back Better is a weekly session organized by the Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) and World Bank as a knowledge sharing session for cities in response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.

For the 19th session of the Speaker Series, we focus on “Resilient Housing” we hear from Elizabeth Hausler, Founder, and CEO, Build Change and Santiago Uribe, Executive Director, Resilience Corporation Office of Medellin.

Visit the Cities for a Resilient Recovery website: https://www.resilientcitiesnetwork.org/

For more information on the Speaker Series visit our resource library at https://bit.ly/3dUXrdA

Subscribe to GRCN to receive more on resilience around the world: https://bit.ly/2x6uafJ

COVID-19: Cities in the frontline of response and recovery: calls for adequate investments at local level

28 July 2020 - The UN SG’s Policy Brief on COVID-19 in an Urban World estimates that urban areas are at the epicenter of the pandemic, accounting for an estimated 90 per cent of cases. However, urban density does not correlate with higher virus transmission. Overcrowding and urban areas with poor infrastructure and housing or weak local governance does.

28 July 2020 - New York - COVID-19 shutdown measures have had economic impacts far beyond city boundaries as urban economies account for 80 per cent of global GDP. The response should tackle the inequalities and long-term development deficits that have been exposed and made marginalized groups more vulnerable. National COVID-19 stimulus packages must boost the capacity of local actors - including the budgetary capacity of local governments to quickly respond to and recover from this crisis, according to the new UN Policy Brief released today.

The UN SG’s Policy Brief on COVID-19 in an Urban World estimates that urban areas are at the epicenter of the pandemic, accounting for an estimated 90 per cent of cases. However, urban density does not correlate with higher virus transmission. Overcrowding and urban areas with poor infrastructure and housing or weak local governance does.

“Now is the moment to adapt to the reality of this and future pandemics”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his recorded message launching the new policy brief- COVID-19 in an Urban World.

“And now is our chance to recover better, by building more resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities”, he added.

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif stated, “The Secretary-General’s Policy Brief is a powerful instrument to put us on the right path to deal with the crisis and also to seize the opportunity to do things differently in the recovery, so that we can create greener, healthier and more resilient cities. The transformative potential of urbanization towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be lost. This moment cannot be missed.”

The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in how people live in cities, and how cities serve their residents. The Policy Brief prioritizes:

  1. Investing in disaggregated data to better understand inequalities;
  2. Guaranteeing safe shelter for everyone. Significant investments in affordable housing and slum upgrading can ensure everyone has access to shelter that facilitates physical and mental health;
  3. Ensuring uninterrupted access to essential public services for all;
  4. Guaranteeing equitable access to health supplies and resources and supporting the poor and other vulnerable groups with free or low-cost access to face masks, testing and treatment. Once available, it will be important to ensure equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine;
  5. Engaging marginalized communities as partners in response efforts; and
  6. Embracing diversity and strengthening social cohesion.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner stated, “Our programmes continue to address the complex root causes as well as the manifestations of development deficits that destabilize countries and cities. In alignment with the UN’s socioeconomic response framework, UNDP has quickly made available significant resources, technical as well as financial. We have repurposed some projects to support urgent needs where they are deployed and have just launched a $100 million financing support mechanism to build on progress from funds we made available to countries when the pandemic hit.”

“We have been deepening our collaboration with UN-Habitat to enhance our support to cities to spur an inclusive and green recovery, and with associations of city and regional governments,” he further added.

The Policy Brief recognizes that there is a need to build up the resilience of cities to better cope with future shocks. This can be done by investing in sectors with potential for high ecological and digital transformation and job creation, and investing significantly in the informal economy— the backbone of economic growth in developing countries. COVID-19 is an opportunity to rethink urban living to address the climate crisis and adapt to the reality of this and future pandemics.

Related content: UNDP Administrator’s video message.

(Photo: UNDP Bangladesh/Fahad Kaizer)

2020 Multidimensional Poverty Index Launch

20 July 2020 - The update of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2020, contains unprecedented and riveting findings – on how poverty reduced in a study covering 5 billion people, on how COVID-19 might affect projected levels of multidimensional poverty, and on how MPI interacts with SDG indicators like vaccination, work, and environment.

20 July 2020 - UNDP hosted a High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2020 side-event, Build Back Better: Charting pathways out of poverty with the global MPI (16 July 2020), to discuss new evidence on the global Multidimensional Poverty Index  (MPI) and how it can be a tool to fight poverty and deprivation.

The session included the participation of UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), and leaders from government and key international organizations.

The session also presented new trends on multidimensional poverty for 75 countries, showing unprecedented gains in poverty reduction. Findings indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause an up to 50% increase in undernutrition while half of all primary school children could be at risk of leaving school.

The update of the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2020, contains unprecedented and riveting findings – on how poverty reduced in a study covering 5 billion people, on how COVID-19 might affect projected levels of multidimensional poverty, and on how MPI interacts with SDG indicators like vaccination, work, and environment.

The Many Faces of Social Protection

15 July 2020 - This HLPF 2020 Side Event was held virtually on 14 July 2020. The event highlighted efforts to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, with a focus on protecting people, targeting the poorest and most vulnerable, and the SDGs as our compass.

15 July 2020 - "Half the World: The Many Faces of Social Protection" was a High-Level Political Forum 2020 Side-Event that was held virtually on 14 July 2020 by UNDP. The event highlighted efforts to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, with a focus on protecting people, targeting the poorest and most vulnerable, and the SDGs as our compass.

It showcased examples of the many faces of social protection, from insurance and assistance programmes to micro/small business policies, digital solutions and basic income.

The discussion focused on the future of social protection, and practical steps to turn the crisis into an opportunity for a concerted push towards a sustainable, inclusive and resilient future.

Speakers:

  • Ms Cina Lawson, Minister of Postal Affairs and Digital Economy of Togo
  • Ms Yemi Alade, Nigerian singer and advocate for UNDP
  • Ms Reema Nanavaty, Director General of SEWA (Self Employed Women's Association), India
  • Mr Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme

Find more details of the event here: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=half+the+world+many+faces+social+protection

Development Advocate Pakistan: Sustainable Urbanization

25 June 2020 - Pakistan has the highest rate of urbanization in South Asia. The benefits of urbanization can only be accrued by sound public policies. Unplanned and unmanaged urbanization has rather resulted into urban slums, environmental degradation, poverty and inequality. Pakistan too, is confronted with a host of urban challenges.

25 June 2020 - Pakistan has the highest rate of urbanization in South Asia. According to the 2017 Population Census, 36.4 percent of the population lives in urban areas. In 1998, this figure stood at 32.5 percent. Other estimates, based on a modified definition of urban settlements, suggest that the ratio of urban to rural population could be 40.5 percent and even higher. The United Nations Population Division estimates that, by 2025, nearly half the country's population will be living in cities.

Urbanization is generally considered to be closely related to economic growth, particularly in developed countries where they have often occurred in tandem. Globally, it is estimated that cities generate more than 80 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The more urbanized areas indicate higher per capita income and more employment opportunities. Cities are also hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship. Urbanization has positive impacts on technological innovation and economic progress.

Cumulatively, cities in Pakistan generate 55 percent of the GDP. Moreover, Pakistan generates 95 percent of its federal tax revenue from 10 major cities. Karachi alone generates 12-15 percent of Pakistan's GDP and contributes 55 percent of the federal tax revenue of the country. 7 out of 10 major cities in Pakistan have larger per-capita incomes than the average. Poverty in cities is generally lower (i.e. urban multi-dimensional poverty is one-sixth of that of rural areas).

However, recent research suggests that the relationship between urbanization and growth is not automatic. Urbanization in many developing countries has occurred without growth, jobs and productivity. The benefits of urbanization can only be accrued by sound public policies. Unplanned and unmanaged urbanization has rather resulted into urban slums, environmental degradation, poverty and inequality. Pakistan too, is confronted with a host of urban challenges.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: https://www.pk.undp.org/content/pakistan/en/home/library/development_policy/dap-vol5-iss4-sustainable-urbanization.html