Learning from cities: Innovation in covid times


Societies are changing quickly, and the public sector needs to adapt as well. Innovation is no longer a luxury for the few but needs to be considered as new responsibility for local government responsibilities. Innovation does not need to necessarily refer to something new, it can be also reverting to more traditional ways to do things. Innovation does not always equal digitalization, but it is also true that digital is here to stay. Digital technologies bring extraordinary opportunities to increase access and affordability, so government can reach more citizens, in a more direct way.

Cities are also the places where most innovation happen. But innovation nearly always involve a certain amount of risk, many times difficult to anticipate. And taking risks is something that bureaucracy has and adversity to. Innovating in cities need to be taken carefully, but also seriously, by all working in cities today: from the Mayor, to local politicians, to public servants, to citizens as well.

With this event, we want to go beyond the walls of city councils, and ask ourselves the question: what are the reasons why this innovation happen, is it driven by citizens? Can it happen by local governments alone? Why certain cities have been able to innovate and others have failed? 

Through these questions, we want to find out recommendations for local decision-makers to address the challenge of responding to the demand for innovation. Identifying how to take the potential of civil innovation and bring that potential into public action, transforming public services and making them more efficient, caring and inclusive. Many times, this process will take a long time, how can we make policies today that will produce innovation tomorrow? And more importantly HOW?

Finally, we will focus on the SDGs as a tool for innovation in cities, and how local and regional governments are using Agenda 2030 to drive change and public policy to contribute to the global goal of sustainability. 

The joint UNDP – Metropolis series Learning from cities highlights city and metropolitan solutions and insights on pressing issues, linked both to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adapt to a world in constant change. The webinar will be recorded and made available to the general public in the Learning from Cities webpage and the main findings broadly disseminated through the production of infographic, podcast and other communication tools.


Moderator: Diana Lopez - Partnerships Specialist, Cities and Urbanization

  • Natalia Currea Dereser, Knowledge and innovation director. Agencia de Cooperación e Inversión de Medellín y el Área Metropolitana de Medellín.
    Colombia (10 min) @NatCurrea

  • Follow up comments and Q&A by the moderator taking questions from the chat

  • María Eugenia Corti, Sustainable and smart development director.
    Intendencia de Montevideo, Uruguay (10 minutos)

  • Follow up comments and Q&A by the moderator taking questions from the chat 

  • Wrap up comments and recommendations by Octavi de la Varga, Secretary-General of Metropolis (5 minutes)

Total time - approximately 60 min

Please note that this event will be held in Spanish