COVID-19 has spread to almost every corner of the world, resulting in close to 30 million confirmed cases and over half a million deaths. The economic shutdown ensued have disrupted billions of lives and are deepening inequalities and jeopardizing decades of development progress.
Cities in developing countries are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Some of them are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, because of their underequipped public health systems, the increasing number of dense and polluted urban agglomerations, and the dominance of the informal economy. Moreover, city after city has seen eerily similar patterns of viral spread and the necessary drastic policy responses. At the same time, many cities in the global South have also become the centres of action and laboratories for innovation. Lessons and solutions are already emerging from Southern cities. Hence, the ability to share knowledge and best practices among themselves is crucial for Southern cities to avoid mistakes and optimize the responses and recovery plans.
The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) has been mapping practices from developing and developed countries to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting partners to support each other. UNOSSC is also putting efforts to facilitate and connect demand and supply in terms of knowledge sharing exchanges as well as connecting experts in technical areas.
At the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in 2019, also known as BAPA+40, world leaders noted local authorities, together with other stakeholders, are playing a growingly indispensable role in South-South and Triangular cooperation (SSTC) for achieving sustainable development. The South-South and Triangular Cooperation among Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities for Sustainable Development Project (Cities Project) was initiated by the UNOSSC in partnership with the government of China in 2017 to facilitate SSTC at the city level, leveraging the strategic opportunities and resources offered by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Since the onset of the outbreak, the Cities Project has been actively responding to partners’ needs through resource mobilization, knowledge sharing, and advocacy. While the pandemic continues to affect people and their livelihood, UNOSSC and the Cities Project stay committed to supporting and connecting partners to respond and build back better.
In this context, with the support from UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Global Education and Training Institute (UNDRR GETI) and Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Cities Project launches this initiative to prepare a knowledge product which capitalizes cities’ good practices as well as lessons learned in their COVID-19 responses for municipal and local policymakers and city-related practitioners. The purpose of this publication is twofold:
- advancing the global exchange of good practices and knowledge between local authorities and city experts on understanding the different nuances, challenges, solutions, innovative approaches, and sectoral strategies being undertaken at the city-level to respond to COVID-19.
- facilitating South-South and triangular partnership building at the city level, transferring technologies and expertise, and expanding the partnership base of the Cities Project and facilitate the establishment of sectoral city clusters for South-South cooperation in key thematic areas.
- Scale of initiative, Impact, Effectiveness: It has had a positive impact on individuals and/or communities and proven its strategic relevance as an effective way to respond to the pandemic and achieve a specific objective in relations to one or more SDGs (in particular SDG1 Poverty Reduction, SDG3 Good Health, SDG5 Gender Equality, SDG8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG17 Partnership for the Goals).
- Replicability and adaptability: It has the potential for replication and is adaptable to similar objectives in varying situations, as evidenced through proven applications or sound feasibility studies. It is easy to learn and to implement.
- Environmental, financial and social sustainability, as per the SDGs: It contributes to overcoming challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic in one or multiple spheres while addressing challenges related to advancing SDGs, guaranteeing positive impact over time without compromising the ability to address future needs.
- Innovation: It demonstrates progressive solutions to pressing development challenges and/or more effective collaboration means between developing countries to improve their competitive advantage.
- Inherently participatory: It inspires a joint sense of ownership of decisions and actions.
(Template attached; kindly offer quantitative data to support the argument.)
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