Managing the crisis on a urban scale: the Live Learning Experience
The outbreak of the COVID-19 brought local and regional governments to the forefront of the emergency. For this reason, UCLG, Metropolis, and UN-Habitat co-organize the "Live Learning Experience", an online initiative to foster local politicians and technicians' discussion, gaining insights into governance tools to manage the crisis. Launched on March 25th, it has already addressed 9 key issues that urban conglomerations are facing in this period.
To ease an enriching knowledge exchange, the Live Learning Experience has created a virtual and living community, organizing a series of online sessions to share experiences of emergency management between local governments and experts of different fields.
The Live Learning Experience has so far featured the voices of 18 members of Metropolis from different geographical areas: Barcelona (city), Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Durban, Gauteng, Gaziantep, Guangzhou, Johannesburg, Lisboa, Madrid, Mexico City, Montevideo, Montréal, Quito, Rabat, Shenzhen, Tunis, and Xi'an. Bringing their context-specific experience and knowledge on the different topics addressed - from housing to mobility, from migration to digital technologies, culture, local finance, and informality - these metropolitan realities have shared and confront on the different emergency actions taken by their local institutions, raising public awareness.
Putting citizens at the centre of their speech, all experts and governmental representatives have expressed their commitment to consider inequalities and economic issues to manage the crisis leaving no one behind. Aiming at affordable and fair service delivery, local governments have demonstrated their interest in considering human rights as leading focuses of their actions. Thus, social inclusion becomes the key element, that has to be considered from different perspectives, not least the informality and migration perspectives, to manage this critical period. In this sense, on April 29 Metropolis Secretary General, Octavi de la Varga, highlighted: "Many decisions have been taken as if informality wasn't there, like social distance measures. We need new approaches to governance and think the role of local governments with local communities and also at the national level". As a matter of fact, coordination between different levels of governments is being crucial to act united, but with a specific vision of urban challenges at the local scale.
Certainly, this experience is making local and regional governments reflect on the importance of sound governance and cooperation to overcome the emergency. More importantly, it is raising awareness of the need to consider fair and inclusive measures in a future-oriented political perspective.