The Knowledge Platform for Urban Transformation, in partnership with the project “Science Advice and COVID-19” of the International Network for Government Science Advice, the Coordination of Humanities, the Coordination for Scientific Research and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Sciences and Humanities of the National Autonomous University of Mexico UNAM, and The New School Observatory on Latin America, invites to the webinar:
Cities and COVID-19: New Directions for Urban Research and Public Policies
April 29-30, 2020
10:00 – 13:00 hours; CDT North America
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The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted new manifestations of old urban problems becoming more relevant in public discussion. The measures taken to cope with the pandemic revealed new nuances of problems ranging from the complexity of urban teleconnections (the multi-scaled relationships of cities in terms of flows, e.g. people, energy, materials, investments, etcetera) versus the limited governmental coordination, the vulnerability of urban economies, the governmental capacity to respond to emergencies, and infrastructural deficiencies. The novel expressions of problems related to socioeconomic inequality, gender, informality, social exclusion, and the shifting diet in relationship with public health, convey the priorities and loopholes of the urban agenda during the last decades.
To name a few examples, the massive workers layoff in several industries showed the negative side of having a low-density unionization.1 The calls to stay at home made visible the significant numbers of people lacking any kind of social safety net, whose income depends entirely on going out to work.2 The massive closing of businesses has compromised the financial sustainability of the business ecosystem.3 The rising panic towards the pandemic showed the fragility of urban food systems.4 The increasing need of economic resources to face the pandemic made evident the lack of financial instruments at hand for local governments.5 The standout of hypertension and diabetes as underlying conditions aggravating the disease by COVID-19 highlights the problems with a diet transition towards ultraprocessed food, high in saturated fats, sugar and salt. The list of new faces of urban problems made visible by the COVID-19 could go on. On top of it, the pandemic puts into question the governments’ capacity to address other urgent urban problems due to budget constraints, the urgency of addressing the immediate effects of the pandemic, and the mobility restrictions faced by urban dwellers.
These new faces of old urban problems uphold the need to strengthen the links between science and public policy decision-making. They also open new possibilities for novel research and force us to question the relevance of conventional urban policies and its means of implementation. In this context, the Knowledge Platform for Urban Transformation and co-organizers make a call for the submission of discussion notes about the new directions of urban research and public policies that have become evident as a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic. The seminar will put emphasis on discussing Mexican cities but will also accept discussion notes on other Latin American cities.
Program of the webinar Cities and COVID-19 taking place on April 29-30, 2020