Together facing the Covid-19 crisis and building urban resilience towards the city we need

In view of the far-reaching measures taken in response to the COVID-19 in cities and communities all over the world, the World Urban Campaign (WUC) would like to express our solidarity to those most affected by the pandemic.

As a coalition of civil society and grassroots organizations, local and subnational authorities, research and academia institutions, women groups, parliamentarians, children and youth organizations, business and industries, foundations and philanthropies, professional associations, trade unions and workers, farmers, indigenous people and the media, the World Urban Campaign will work with all its members to address this new global health challenge.

We commit to:

  • Be together in solidarity with the most affected and vulnerable in slums and informal settlements as well as other marginalized areas.
  • Generating and supporting solutions together with those affected and other stakeholders. 
  • Share our solutions to inspire others to scale-up on the ground. 
  • Act fast to help saving more lives.
  • Proactively think and initiate support to post- pandemic recovery activities to make cities and communities more inclusive, and resilient to any crisis. We need to extract lessons from the pandemic in order to achieve more resilient cities and communities.

The World Urban Campaign promotes the SDGs and New Urban Agenda. It does so through a set of principles and drivers of change as defined in The City We Need. We wish to recall key principles that are essential to addressing the Covid-19 crisis:

The City We Need is regenerative and resilient

  • The City We Need is designed to be resilient, continuously assessing risks and building the capacities of local stakeholders, individuals and communities to prepare for, absorb, recover from and learn from acute shocks and chronic stresses, both natural and anthropogenic. It acts to avoid or prevent such events where feasible, protecting vulnerable populations before, during and after the fact. It recognizes that it is only as resilient as it’s most vulnerable and marginalized dwellers and strives to ensure their long-term survival, sustainability and quality of life.

The City We Need is safe, healthy and promotes well-being

  • The City We Need recognizes that good health requires solutions that transcend the health sector and recommend improved inter-sectoral communication and coordination for health. It should recognize the critical role of the determinants of health and reduce air, water, soil and noise pollution and ensure universal access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and decent shelter.

The City We Need is socially inclusive and engaging

  • The City We Need recognizes gender differentiated needs and supports women as key actors in planning and adopts measures that enhance their involvement and their ability to participate effectively in decision making.

The City We Need learns and innovates

  • The City We Need recognizes that cities are changing, which calls for continuous learning and reflection and more flexible planning and decision making. This includes new and innovative approaches to social, economic and environmental governance.

Health and Safety are critical drivers of change

  • Cities must recognize that health arises from the totality of interactions between and among humans and their environments in cities and not simply from the quality or accessibility of the health system. As such, solutions to improve health, safety and wellbeing must recognize the complex nature of urban interactions, and originate in and encompass all sectors and all segments of society.

We know several WUC members are already working on the ground either leading or in partnerships with others in supporting those in needs in your cities, towns and communities. We hope we could support cross learnings of good practices from you in the coming days in collaborations with those sessions and spaces initiated by WUC members as well as the UN-Habitat projects and programmes. At the same time, we would like to invite you to share your actions in order to inspire others and to join our Urban Thinkers e-Campus on the Covid-19 response in order to learn from each other and extract lessons towards The City We Need.

Together, we will address the challenges during the pandemic and build upon lessons learned to strengthen the resilience of our cities and communities. We would like to invite you to join our Urban Thinkers e-Campus on the Covid-19 response in order to learn from each other and extract lessons towards The City We Need.

The COVID-19 crisis clearly demonstrates the consequences of falling behind: “had we been further advanced in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, we could better face this challenge - with stronger health systems, fewer people living in extreme poverty, less gender inequality, a healthier natural environment, and more resilient societies”.[1]

Our mission is to take action in cities and communities to accelerate the achievement of the sustainable development goals by 2030 and the New Urban Agenda. This requires urgency and ambition. It needs to mobilize everyone, everywhere and leave no one and no place behind.

Let’s be together in this difficult moment, learn from each other and take action to ensure we have resilient cities and communities.

Bert Smolders, Arcadis NV
Sri Husnaini Sofjan, Huairou Commission
Sandeep Chachra, ActionAid
Co-Chairs of the World Urban Campaign