Nairobi, November 2020 – UN-Habitat is holding a series of 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. Each of four webinars is taking one of these themes for wider discussion.

The first webinar, on 24 November, which was attended by around 200 people online, reviewed the Report’s draft findings on the Urban Spatial Patterns and Dynamics theme with inputs from specialists from Penn University (Philadelphia), University 9 de Julho (São Paulo), Urban Facts (Barcelona) and the World Resources Institute (Washington D.C). The discussion looked at how the pandemic is affecting urban poor communities and whether density contributes to city regions’ challenges.

The expert panel reviews stressed that some positive changes to city spaces seen during the pandemic will not be permanent unless a concerted effort is made to link the recovery actions to long term changes. The reviewers commented that the alleged ‘exodus of cities’ is not backed up by evidence and that the urban structure can change and can address the most critical urban problems.

On 25 November, the second webinar on the draft findings of the Rebuilding Urban Economy section gathered specialists of the Paris Special School of Architecture, UN Capital Development Fund, UN Economic Commission for Africa and UN Development Programme to analyse the conditions of urban financing and economic resilience in the face of the pandemic.

The expert panel’s reviews highlighted the advantages of actions at the regional and urban corridors scales for boosting economic resilience. It was noted that the economic ‘build back better’ efforts must be analysed across other themes of the Report including achieving social and gender equality and equality between large and small cities.

The next event in the series will review the draft findings of Systematic Poverty and Inequality in Cities analysis on 8 December 2020 at 16:30 – 18:30 (East Africa time). The discussion on Conducive Policy, Legal and Governance Responses to COVID-19 concludes the series on 9  December 2020 at 15:00- 17:00 (East Africa time) by elaborating on the role and successes of governance and legal systems in the response to and recovery of the pandemic.