Cities were not prepared. Citizens neither. For the recovery, it is a long way to go.
Covid-19 represents the worst challenge most people have ever faced. Cities, where the highest toll in this crisis is paid, are concentrating their efforts on flattening the curve and maintaining the basic services their inhabitants need.
Unfortunately, like in the past, this crisis is revealing and deepening cities’ fragilities, inequalities, and unsolved challenges, thus making a response more urgent and complex at a time. Besides the compelling planning and budgetary efforts, cities are in the need for disruptive social, economic, and technological innovations to cope with the rising fragility of both individuals and communities.
Luckily, in such a difficult time, cities are not alone. Two powerful allies are stepping in from opposite directions, and offering help.
The first one comes from within the city. In these hard times more than ever, a growing number of citizens, civil society organizations and companies are engaging for the common good – from the many initiatives to feed the urban poor to companies and fab labs producing medical equipment to cope with hospitals’ shortages, from restaurants offering food to medical staff to musicians playing their instruments on balconies to soothe their neighbors.
The second help comes from outside the national borders. All over the world, a growing number of municipalities of all sizes are sharing best practices and are ready to cooperate in response to the crisis. Numerous city networks are putting in place lists of best practices and provide member cities with opportunities to exchange directly on the matter.
Thanks to their unique potential of connecting local to global, and global to local, cities have the possibility to set the conditions for developing participatory, cross-national solutions to the crisis while imagining a more resilient, equal and sustainable urban future.
At Urban Flag, we have decided to support the process by deepening and widening the public debate on such ongoing redefinition of what cities, and urban life, mean.
By teaming up with world-renowned experts and practitioners, we aim at providing cities and their communities with an insight into both the challenges and the opportunities they are facing at this very moment. Over the next few weeks, we will record a series of thematic debates, made available to everyone through our website and the main podcast platforms.