From the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to its global spread, the crisis has had negative impacts on individuals, communities, and societies, particularly on the most vulnerable people in the Global South. As a result, subnational governments in provinces, cities, districts, and communities find themselves on the front line of coping with the pandemic and its lasting impacts. In the process, they are generating compelling stories of human innovation, adaptation, and resilience.
“Spotlighting the Innovative Experiences of Cities in Action for COVID-19 Responses” is the result of a collaboration between the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) under its South-South Cities Project framework, and the United Nations Office for Disaster and Risk Reduction (UNDRR), with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO).
This interagency collaboration started with a series of certified online training courses focusing on making cities resilient through South-South cooperation.
The online training courses brought together representatives from national health authorities and local governments, as well as technical experts from PAHO/WHO and UNDRR to share the experiences, good practices, and measures adopted in their cities and local contexts in disaster risk reduction and COVID-19 response. The first set of training took place between September-October 2020 and was attended by over 2,500 participants from 150 countries and territories. The online training courses brought together representatives from national health authorities and local governments, as well as technical experts from PAHO/WHO and UNDRR to share the experiences, good practices, and measures adopted in their cities and local contexts in disaster risk reduction and COVID-19 response.
Building on the successful results of the first training in 2020, UNOSSC, UNDRR/GETI and the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Health Emergencies Programme jointly organized the second training series for local authorities and urban development practitioners in June 2021, entitled “Build Back Better: Harnessing South-South Cooperation and Risk Reduction Planning for Resilient and Healthy Cities in the Post-COVID-19 era”. Overall, the 2021 training received over 5000 registrations from 165 countries and territories, and 2979 participants joined the sessions live from over 1000 cities in 155 countries and territories with close to equal gender participation.
Owing to the success of the interagency training initiative and the partnership, the three United Nations system entities decided to organize a call for voluntary submissions to consolidate a knowledge product that would capitalize on good practices of cities and localities as well as lessons learned in their COVID-19 responses.
The present publication is a knowledge product on the experiences of provinces, cities, districts, and communities of the Global South responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. It showcases the evidence-based, collaborative strategies that various localities have adopted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and deal with its broader economic and social consequences. It is aimed at health, emergency response, and development policymakers and practitioners at various levels (regional, national, provincial, municipal, and local) in the Global South and beyond.
The report includes 10 cases from localities in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean: Baguio (the Philippines), Bangladesh (64 districts), Banjul (the Gambia), Chaco Province (Argentina), Fujian Province and Cha-ting Community in Nanjing Province (China), Izmir Province (Turkey), Santiago Metropolitan Region (Chile), São Paulo (Brazil), Udine, Milan and Potenza Province (Italy).
The experiences in the report cover a wide range of topics, including diverse strategies for public health emergency responses, especially those involving digital technologies and direct support to vulnerable populations, women, children, elderly populations, and youth.
It is a knowledge product to help advance the exchange of replicable and adaptable practices and knowledge-sharing between local authorities and experts and to promote understanding of the different challenges, solutions, approaches, and sectoral strategies being undertaken in the Global South.