Cities and local authorities often find themselves at the forefront of combating the COVID-19 pandemic and dealing with related economic challenges. Hosting the majority of the world population, cities are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19; at the same time, they also become the centers of action and laboratories for innovation. Besides the management of the wide range of health-related operations, cities and local administrations undertake measures to protect the most vulnerable populations, support local economies and ensure the continuity of public services in the new context.
In 2019 BAPA+40 Outcome Document recognized the importance of rapid urbanization in developing countries and called for “greater South-South and triangular cooperation aimed at eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions in urban and rural areas through more coordinated policies and sharing of knowledge, solutions and experience, by raising the productivity, resilience and sustainability at the local level”. This was an important acknowledgement of the cities as actors in South-South and triangular cooperation. The outbreak of the COVID-19 gave this process a renewed sense of urgency. There are numerous similarities in the way COVID-19 spread across different cities around the world, although affecting each city at different time. Sharing knowledge and solutions across cities can not only help avoiding the past mistakes, but also identify what works in different contexts.
Recognizing the importance of knowledge sharing in this context, numerous virtual networks were established by different organizations. The website of the World Economic Forum lists numerous initiatives looking at the exchange of urban solutions. The exchange of solutions is very important at the initial stage, but it is equally important during the re-opening and for definition of the urban future.
To this end, a webinar was jointly organized by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC), bringing together city officials from the Global South to share their responses at city level and reflect on the role of South-South and triangular cooperation. The discussion addressed the following questions: 1) role of cities in responding to COVID-19 in different countries 2) health and socio-economic measures that have been put in place by the city of the local government; and 3) role and the potential of South-South and triangular cooperation in exchanging practices; preparedness of the cities to document and share solutions. The aim of this webinar was to contribute to a global exchange of experiences that could increase understanding of the challenges and solutions, improve the effectiveness of cross-disciplinary responses, and leverage cooperation amongst countries, including through South-South and triangular cooperation.
The session was moderated Mr. Artemy Izmestiev, Policy Specialist, UNDP USPC. Following is the detail of speakers:
- Mr. Jorge Chediek, Director of UNOSSC & Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation New York, United States
- Mrs. Anan Atteerh, Deputy Governor and the Head of the Health Committee of Nablus Governorate, State of Palestine (8-10 min)
- Madam Rohey Malick Lowe, Lord Mayor, Banjul, the Gambia (8-10 min)
- Ms. Jie Ding, Deputy Director, Nanjing Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Nanjin, China (8-10 min)
- Mr. Alessandro Attolio, Executive Director of Innovation, Territorial Services and Planning at the Province of Potenza, Local Authority, Italy (8-10 min) (tbc)
- Ms. Laurence Kwark is a Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF), Seoul, Republic of Korea
- Q&A (20 min)
- Mr. Stephan Klingebiel, Director of USPC, Republic of Korea