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Launch of Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World

28 July 2020 - Video message by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the launch of the Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World.

28 July 2020 - Video message by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the launch of the Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World.

"Urban areas are ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 90 per cent of reported cases.

Cities are bearing the brunt of the crisis – many with strained health systems, inadequate water and sanitation services, and other challenges.

This is especially the case in poorer areas, where the pandemic has exposed deeply rooted inequalities.

But cities are also home to extraordinary solidarity and resilience.

Strangers helping each other, streets cheering in support of essential workers, local businesses donating life-saving supplies. 

We have seen the best of the human spirit on display.

As we respond to the pandemic and work towards recovery, we look to our cities as hubs of community, human innovation and ingenuity.

Today, we have an opportunity to reflect and reset how we live, interact, and rebuild our cities.

That is why we are launching a “Policy Brief on COVID-19 in the Urban World”.

It offers three key recommendations.

First, we need to ensure that all phases of the pandemic response tackle inequalities and long-term development deficits and safeguard social cohesion.

We must prioritise those who are the most vulnerable in our cities, including guaranteeing safe shelter for all and emergency housing to those without homes.

Access to water and sanitation is also vital.

The inadequate state of public services in many cities requires urgent attention, particularly in informal settlements.

Nearly one-quarter of the world’s urban population lives in slums.

Local governments are already taking action – from prohibiting evictions during the crisis to putting in place new clean water stations in the most vulnerable areas.

Second, we must strengthen the capacities of local governments.

This requires decisive action – and deeper cooperation between local and national authorities.

Stimulus packages and other relief should support tailored responses and boost local government capacity.

Third, we must pursue a green, resilient and inclusive economic recovery.

Many cities have created new bike lanes and pedestrian zones, reclaiming public spaces and improving mobility, safety and air quality.

By focusing on high ecological transformation and job creation, stimulus packages can steer growth towards a low-carbon, resilient pathway and advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

The rapid adoption of telecommuting illustrates how societies can transform seemingly overnight to confront urgent threats.

We must act with the same urgency and resolve to transform cities and address the climate and pollution crises.

Now is the time to rethink and reshape the urban world.

Now is the moment to adapt to the reality of this and future pandemics.

And now is our chance to recover better, by building more resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities."

Find more information here

Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World

28 July 2020 - The Policy Brief describes how cities can manage the pandemic and emerge as the hubs of energy, resilience and innovation that make them such vibrant and appealing places for many to live. It also looks at how the pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in how people live in cities, and how cities serve their residents, with the most vulnerable suffering the most.

28 July 2020UN Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis; it is an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis, and a human rights crisis. This crisis has highlighted severe fragilities and inequalities within and among nations. Coming out of this crisis will require a whole-of-society, whole-of-government and whole-of-the-world approach driven by compassion and solidarity.

The UN Secretary-General has launched the UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19 to save lives, protect societies, recover better.

As part of the response, the UN Secretary-General is issuing policy briefs to provide ideas to governments on how to address the consequences of this crisis and COVID-19 in an urbanizing world is part of this series.

The Policy Brief describes how cities can manage the pandemic and emerge as the hubs of energy, resilience and innovation that make them such vibrant and appealing places for many to live. It also looks at how the pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in how people live in cities, and how cities serve their residents, with the most vulnerable suffering the most. The Policy Brief calls for conscious policy choices, particularly with respect to inequalities, local capacities and a green, inclusive recovery. The UN agencies involved in writing the Brief included UN-Habitat, UNDP, UNDESA, UNEP, UNICEF, UNODC, ILO, WHO, all Regional Economic Commissions and several local government networks were also engaged in this process.

Download the Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World here

Find more information about UN Response to COVID-19 here

Find more information about the Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World at UN-Habitat's website

New Urban Agenda

The New Urban Agenda was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, on 20 October 2016.

It was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly at its sixty-eighth plenary meeting of the seventy-first session on 23 December 2016.

The New Urban Agenda presents a paradigm shift based on the science of cities; it lays out standards and principles for the planning, construction, development, management, and improvement of urban areas along its five main pillars of implementation: national urban policies, urban legislation and regulations, urban planning and design, local economy and municipal finance, and local implementation. It is a resource for every level of government, from national to local; for civil society organizations; the private sector; constituent groups; and for all who call the urban spaces of the world “home” to realize this vision.

KUALA LUMPUR DECLARATION ON CITIES 2030

We, the participants of the Ninth session of the World Urban Forum — representing  national, subnational and local governments, parliamentarians, civil society, older persons, women, youth, childre

n, persons with disabilities, grassroots groups, indigenous peoples and local communities, private sector, foundations and philanthropies, international and regional organizations, academia, professionals and other relevant stakeholders — gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to localize and scale up the implementation of the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.