COVID-19 Urban Thinkers Campus discuss pro-poor investment for urban adaptation and resilience

COVID-19 Urban Thinkers Campus discuss pro-poor investment for urban adaptation and resilience

Nairobi, 26 June 2020 - A COVID-19 Urban Thinkers Campus webinar was organized by the World Urban Campaign and RISE UP Flagship programme on 25 June to discuss pro-poor investments for adaptation and resilience in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Ambassador Njambi Kinyungu, Head of the Kenyan Mission to UN-Habitat, opened the campus session by reflecting on the need to rethink the way we conceptualize economies at the international, regional, national and local levels. A change of mindset is needed as we emerge out of the COVID crisis to build-back better and create more resilient cities. With the pandemic an additional half billion people are at risk of joining the one billion urban poor. This new situation is forcing countries to find immediate solutions, starting with incentives she said. In Kenya, we had to innovate and include new incentives for the people in our annual budget recently.

Dr. Stephen A. Hammer, Advisor on Global Partnerships & Strategy at the World Bank , explained the strong history and commitment of the World Bank to provide rescue support to Governments through flexible financial instruments during the crisis. He stressed the importance data-driven solutions, and linking financial support to policy and market change, putting an emphasis on green recovery.

David Dodman, Director of Human Settlement at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), emphasized the need for bottom-up accountability, blended finance, context-specific investments driven by people. Communities should be at the heart of financial solutions while transitioning to the post-COVID-19 recovery. Future development policies need to be based on robust integrated approaches that recognize the interconnected nature of social integration, health, food systems, etc. in their own spatial contexts.

Julian Baskin, Senior Urban Specialist at Cities Alliance, focused on the urban poor stating that the COVID-19 crisis is revealing the spread and dept of inequalities worldwide and the inadequacy of global development policies over the last 30 years. The legacy is one of exclusion and vast inequalities in cities big and small across the globe. Decisions about allocation of resources and space shall be made on the basis of people in order to recover differently, and ultimately, better. It is time to rethink the role of the informal economy and its interdependence with the public sector.

In a lively debate, participants outlined the need for new coalitions and partnerships to improve the resilience of the urban poor and promote inclusive approaches that overcome past systemic inequalities. Globally, while governments stimulate a ‘post-COVID’ economic recovery, it is an opportunity for countries and the international community to refocus on core investments towards resilient urban services, infrastructure, fast-tracking a green and resilient transition that include the urban poor.