This article is written by Anina Hartung and Dr. Nazmul Huq from the ICLEI Global Resilient Development Team.
It should come to no surprise for anyone that COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented disparity to the fragile interconnected systems that make up our urban spaces, rendering them vulnerable to a host of challenges.
Additionally, while cities have historically had their fair share of shocks and stresses, the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the growing complexity in communities and, in some cases, risks unraveling a decade’s worth of development.
Despite this, COVID-19 has handed us a valuable opportunity for reflection. The pandemic gives an opportunity to focus on resilience in our recovery and to reexamine the importance of building necessary partnerships along the way.
ICLEI and a group of partners wanted to address the notion that climate and resilience are not mutually exclusive in mobilizing local governments toward an urban transformation and a resilient recovery process, using partnerships as a central lens to advance the work. The project was called Resilient Cities Action Package 2021 (ReCAP21) and was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), a partnership between GIZ, ICLEI, the Resilient Cities Network, and Cities Alliance. The project lent support for technical and capacity-building in local governments, especially within the context of Rwanda, Bangladesh, Mauritania, and could be useful for other developing countries.
ReCAP21 laid the foundation for local governments to access and use partners’ decades-long insights and learnings for realizing resilient recovery. Firstly, tools, approaches, and best practices that demonstrate tailor-made risk assessments and climate-resilient interventions, as developed by the implementing partners, were made available to the local governments through training. The tools of City WORKS, COM SSA SEACAP, Toolkit for a Resilient Recovery, in addition to the GreenClimateCities process methodology from ICLEI, showcase a wider scope for resilient development.
ReCAP21 also highlighted the acceleration of multilevel governance. The model of Talanoa Dialogues – convenings of stakeholders from many levels of government – were used to align strategies and actions at all levels of governance. Rwanda and Bangladesh used Talanoa Dialogues to successfully address the gap between stakeholders and mobilize multilevel governance for a resilient recovery. The project also addressed the finance accessibility gap for implementing project opportunities through the Transformative Action Program (TAP). Such a program extends the knowledge and resources between partners, allowing for real-world application of projects and technical assistance.
Collectively, ReCAP21 offers local governments an outlook on the integrated and comprehensive solutions that can support them in their journey towards a resilient recovery. Additionally, at the heart of this package was the mutual recognition between partners that the lack of financing, strategic direction, framework, and political leadership desperately needs to be addressed for this to occur.
As COVID-19 has provided us with an opportunity to reflect upon the fact that we possess more similarities than differences in pursuing a more inclusive, resilient future, we are thrilled by the collaborative efforts that we achieved in this partnership, and we intend to maintain the valuable lesson that was learned: collaboration and knowledge sharing will be imperative to meeting the uncertainties of today and tomorrow.