Nairobi, December 2020 – UN-Habitat has completed its series of four webinars to validate the main recommendations of its upcoming Report on Cities and Pandemics: Towards a more just, green and healthy future. The UN-Habitat Report, due out early next year, focuses on forces shaping the future in cities namely urban economy, governance, spatial patterns and structure and socio-economic inequality.

Following first two successful webinars on the findings of the Urban Spatial Patterns and Dynamics and Rebuilding Urban Economy sections, the third webinar on Addressing Systemic Poverty and Inequality in Cities was held on 8 December. It gathered specialists from academia, non-governmental organizations and grassroots movements (Princeton University, Centre for Policy Research, The Shift, Mathare One-Stop Youth Centre, the Advisory Group on Gender Issues and Huairou Commission) and UN agencies (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the International Labour Organization and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The expert panel stressed the importance of a universal human rights framework to ensure a sustainable recovery and provide a comprehensive and adequate social protection system for all. The reviewers demonstrated the risks associated with institutional financing for housing in terms of the privatization of housing assets and affordability. They reiterated the need for disaggregated data to witness spatial health-related inequalities between and within urban spaces. (Link to recording of webinar 3).

On 9 December, the fourth and last webinar reviewed the draft findings of the Conducive Policy, Legal and Governance Responses to COVID-19 section with inputs from specialists from the City of Madrid, the London School of Economics (LSE), the National Institute of Urban Affairs and RMIT University.

The panelists’ reviews confirm that a subnational scale of analysis is the most relevant one to address the current crisis. They highlighted the importance of a clear governance framework answering to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, in order to ensure relevant subnational coordination systems between cities and regions. The expert panel reminded participants that governance measures need to include a temporality component that distinguishes temporary actions and measures that are part of the ‘new normal’. (Link to recording of webinar 4).

The webinar series validated or sharpened  the key findings of each section and demonstrated that the chosen focus of the Report on Cities and Pandemics, due to be published early next year, is relevant.