Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World

With an affliction rate of approximately 90%, urban areas have become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not density per se that correlates with higher transmission rates but rather social and economic geographies of inequality, which have made the lack of inclusive access to health services, housing and sanitation services painfully clear. The United Nations (UN) have launched a call to rethink the way we build and organise cities, using the pandemic as a starting point for a green and socially just recovery. This policy brief outlines three recommendations that this process should be based on: 1. Tackling inequalities and development benefits, 2. Strengthening capacities of local actors and governments and 3. Enabling a resilient, inclusive, gender-equal and green economic recovery.

Publisher: United Nations
Publication Date: 2020
Copyright: United Nations

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COVID-19 and Fragility: The Threat Posed by Corruption, Crooks, and the Resulting Illicit Financial Flows

How can governmental responses to COVID-19 be effective in protecting the most vulnerable and enable an inclusive recovery, if a high amount of these urgently needed funds are lost to corruption and become illicit financial flows (IFFs)? This critical question is posed by Jana Warkotsch and Carola Frank in their recent publication featured by FriEnt. The lack of financial transparency and oversight does not only lead to a loss of funds - an estimate of 10-25 cents of every dollar spent on procurement are lost to corruption - but also damages the relationship between citizens and states. To counter these tendencies, the authors suggest strengthening a) both governments’ and donors’ commitment to transparency and accountability as well as b) local actors’ role to monitor and control how funds are spent.

Authors: Jana Warkotsch, Carola Frank
Publisher: FriEnt
Publication Date: 2020
Copyright: FriEnt

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2019 Benchmarking Report on Solid Waste Management in SEE

South-East Europe is on track to promote the Circular Economy and to implement reliable practices of waste data collection and reporting as a basis for better policymaking. The Benchmarking Report on Waste Management in South-East Europe prepared as a joint effort by Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS) as well as members of the Local Government Association (LGAs) underlines a positive trend in the waste management sector, especially in EU member countries. Based on data from ten different countries in the region, the report gives an insight in what has been achieved in the past years and provides best practices for context-specific strategies to upgrade waste management systems.

Authors: NALAS Task Force on Solid Waste and Water Management
Publisher: NALAS
Publication Date: 2019
Copyright: NALAS.

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Uganda Business Impact Survey 2020

The measures taken by governments all over the world to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have affected many companies, in particular small and medium enterprises. As part of a broader socio-economic assessment of these consequences by the United Nations in Uganda, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in cooperation with Makere University and the support of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has conducted a business survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on business’ operations and to provide feedback for the development of policies and business relief and recovery packages. The study demonstrates that while companies were quick in adjusting their business models and adopting innovative technological solutions, neither the rate nor the scope of innovation was sufficient to adequately address the challenges posed by COVID-19. Therefore, the study recommends that solutions should both include relief and stimulus packages and that businesses should use this opportunity to design long-term programmes that create business environments that encourage sustainability and resilience to future shock.

Author: Dr. Dmitry Pozhidaev
Publisher: UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) / Makere University
Publication Date: 2020
Copyright: UNCDF / Makere University

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Deliberating for Sustainability: Lessons from the Porto Alegre Experiment with Partic-ipatory Budgeting

Participatory budgeting (PB) has been widely celebrated as a transformative practice for fostering local democracy and economic sustainability. In this paper Martin Calisto Friant analyses the experiences made in Porto Alegre with PB through an interdisciplinary lens, combining theories of the right to the city, environmental justice and deliberative democracy. Arguing that that the deliberative nature of participatory processes has had a particularly positive impact on urban environments, Calisto proposes a number of key recommendations to replicate and upscale this mechanism to work towards social and environmental sustainability in cities.

Author: Martin Calisto Friant
Publisher: International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development
Publication Date: 2020
Copyright: International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development

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Bringing Urban Refugees into Local Planning

Although 60% of refugees live in towns and cities, displacement continues to be portrayed through images of camps located in remote areas. The lack of attention to the diverse challenges that refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) face in urban areas, such as stigmatisation by public officials or lack of access to housing and basic services, impedes upon the design of holistic responses. Rather than providing humanitarian support only, municipalities should acknowledge the potential that displaced people bring to cities and integrate them into local planning and governance frameworks. The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) supports multiple initiatives in this area, amongst others a study that compares the experiences of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in cities and camps from four countries – Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Jordan and Kenya.

Author: Lucy Earle
Publisher: International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
Publication Date: 20 July, 2020
Copyright: IIED

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From the Ground Up – It’s about Time for Local Humanitarian Action

The localisation of responses to humanitarian crises has been an explicit ambition for several decades. Both the UN Secretary General’s report for the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and the resulting Grand Bargain reform agenda called for responses that are “as local as possible, as international as necessary.” However, despite increasing awareness for this issue, protection responses often remain highly centralised and unsuccessful in building strategic partnerships with local actors. To understand why localisation in the humanitarian sector has largely failed, the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) has conducted a three-year research programme entitled “From the ground up: understanding local response in crises.” The resulting report underlines that international aid constitutes only one source of assistance and that localisation depends on humanitarian actors recognising its importance and partnering with informal actors and social networks who are involved in protecting those in need.

Authors: Larissa Fast, Christina Bennet
Publisher: Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
Publication Date: May 2020
Copyright: ODI

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Promoting Inclusion Through Local Peace Structures

Inclusion is one of the essential principles included in international policy frameworks like the Sustainable Development Goals (see Goal 16). But how can inclusion be promoted in fragile and conflict-affected contexts? This report examines how and to what extent local peace structures in Kenya and the Philippines, like informal groups, committees and networks, influence peace processes by mediating local disputes, raising awareness and integrating marginalised groups. By drawing on these examples, the report carves out the important role of local peace structures for promoting inclusion and pays special attention to their ability to address both short-term security and long-term governance challenges.

Publisher: Conciliation Resources
Publication Date: 2020
Copyright: Conciliation Resources

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Tools for Promoting Inclusive and Resilient Economic Development by Advancing Strong Partnerships

Due to significant differences in local settings, there is no sole solution for supporting local economic development (LED). Therefore, comprehensive strategies geared toward fostering inclusive and sustainable growth should be developed with support from local governments and their insight knowledge on local surroundings. Drawing on their experiences gained in Somaliland and Somalia, VNG International has developed concrete tools for the design and implementation of such LED strategies. These tools are based on a Territorial Approach to Local Development (TALD) that connects economic development to decentralisation efforts and thus recognises the importance of governance for LED sustainability. The ideas and instruments introduced in VNG’s publication are designed in a way so that local authorities can develop LED strategies that accurately correspond to the needs and potentials of their communities.

Editors: Chris van Hemert, Maxime Smeets
Publisher: VNG International
Publication Date: 2020

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Video Series: Governance Support in South Africa in the Spotlight

Well-functioning local governance structures are a precondition for inclusive and sustainable development. However, strategies to support local businesses or the efficient use of resources often fail due to malfunctioning management systems that disregard context-specific responses. Against this backdrop the identification and evaluation of existing strategies and success stories has gained in importance. Therefore, GIZ has published a video series that sheds light on the impact of GIZ’s local governance projects in South Africa by capturing lessons learnt and successes on record through interviews with GIZ’s local technical advisors and its partners from municipalities and government departments.

Editors: GIZ Governance Support Programme (GSP) in South Africa
Publisher: GIZ
Publication Date: 2020
Copyright: GIZ

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