Successful launch of the event series "Insight Sessions: Post-COVID Urban Futures"

Review of the kick-off event on COVID-19 Recovery & SDG 11

On 28 July 2021, the virtual event series "Insight Sessions: (Post-)COVID Urban Futures" started with an exciting kick-off event on "COVID-19 Recovery & SDG 11". The event series is part of this year's Connective Cities COVID-19 programme and facilitates a reoccurring exchange between urban practitioners worldwide on various topics of sustainable urban development in the (post-)COVID-19 era. 

The COVID-19 Recovery & SDG 11 launch event took place virtually in the Connective Cities community with over 80 participants, including from Germany, Lebanon, Georgia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Jordan and Palestine.


The event started with a brief overview of the Connective Cities COVID-19 programme 2021, including funding opportunities from Engagement Global/ SKEW. This was followed by a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 crisis for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 of making cities sustainable, safe, inclusive and resilient. The following urban practitioners shared their knowledge and perspectives on this topic:

  1. Faola Hodaj, Director of Innovation, Municipality of Tirana, Albania 
  2. Karim Elgendy, Sustainable City Strategist, London UK / MENA - Recipient of the 2013 Global Green Building Entrepreneurship Award by the World Green Building Council 
  3. Aditya Kumar, Executive Director, NGO Development Action Group, Cape Town, South Africa 
  4. Hilmar von Lojewski, Head of the Department of Urban Development, Building, Housing and Transport, Association of German Cities, Berlin, Germany 

The panel discussion focused on municipal innovation and digitisation processes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and their contribution to achieving SDG 11. Furthermore, the main lessons of the pandemic for resilient urban planning and sustainable housing in German and international municipalities were elaborated. Building on this, the panelists discussed the challenges that the pandemic has created for the provision of adequate housing and basic services in informal settlements. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent flood in Germany was also part of the panel discussion. It was evaluated which strategies and measures municipalities can take to increase their resilience to future climate-related risks. The discussion was followed by a Q&A session in which the panelists answered and commented on questions and contributions from the audience. In a short survey at the end of the session, participants expressed their interest on the most important COVID-19-related municipal challenges and the desired topics for the next Insight Sessions.


The panel discussion emphasised that municipal innovation and digitalisation processes should be inclusive, participatory and transparent in order to maximise the contribution to urban sustainability and resilience. It was also highlighted that agile and adaptive local governments and integrated ways of working are needed to find effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve SDG 11 in the long term. Regarding the recent flood disaster in Germany and other parts of the world, it was also pointed out that evidence-based, agile and responsive municipal crisis management is key to resilient urban development. 

In addition, it was discussed that the COVID-19 pandemic has tended to contribute to a suburbanisation process of cities through increased home office work opportunities and social distancing measures. On the other hand, it was revealed that the pandemic has also contributed to an increase in the importance of the neighbourhood in urban life, laying the groundwork for mixed-use urban development and "15-minute cities".

Using the example of Cape Town, South Africa, it was also highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic tended to have a devastating impact on informal settlements. It was argued that the COVID-19-related lockdowns have undermined the socio-economic situation of many, especially informal, urban dwellers, which in turn has led to a deterioration in the food and housing security of these residents. In order to improve the socio-economic well-being and resilience of these informal settlements, the need for responsive local governments and citizen participation in development projects was highlighted. 


Insight Session: COVID 19 Recovery & SDG 11  [pdf, 24 Seiten, 2mb]


The event was the kick-off for the new series of “Insight Sessions: (Post-)COVID Urban Futures", which will take place on Wednesdays every three weeks and to which we cordially invite you. In the upcoming Insight Session on Wednesday 18 August 2021, we will focus on the topic of "Digital literacy and digital municipal Service design in (Post-)COVID Cities". Further, there will be a special session on 25 August on "The importance of disaster preparedness in cities and municipalities: experiences and lessons learned". Information on the programme of upcoming events will be available soon on our website and in the Connective Cities Community.

We are looking forward to welcoming you in the events!


Connective Cities

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