Facing unprecedented urban challenges

29 September 2020

Cities have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has quickly morphed from a health crisis, into an unprecedented economic, social and potentially societal crisis. Suddenly, city administrations have been faced with a set of heretofore unknown challenges.

Vulnerable people have become even more vulnerable, especially the elderly, people in long-term care, people with precarious work contracts, the homeless, people with disabilities, migrants, undocumented migrants and victims of domestic violence. Many freelance professionals, small business entrepreneurs and people working in badly hit sectors such as the creative, cultural, sport and hospitality industries, have become new groups at risk of poverty due to loss of incomes and jobs. With many essential services moving online, including education, training, psychological support, health care and well-being, the digital divide is further exacerbating and widening inequalities for many people.

City budgets have experienced budget erosion due to the combined effect of declining revenues coming from local taxation and sharp increased demand for social services and income support.

With many local businesses, shops and cultural venues facing bankruptcy, unemployment is increasing. The crisis has a strong territorial dimension, impacting even more heavily cities with stronger connections to the global value chain and flows from tourism through labour market and business disruption.

With this in mind, Eurocities has been looking at the policy responses taken by city administrations to mitigate the worst socioeconomic effects of the crisis, which you can find collected below (this list will be updated):

Follow the discussion tomorrow as we discuss how cities can build back better.


  • No place like home

    Berlin is taking action to ensure that newly arrived Roma, and every resident, has the right and possibility to actively participate in society.

    5 minutes read
  • On the right track

    How does Zagreb keep in mind that everyone's mobility matters? It listens and learns from local NGOs and involves every group in society.

    7 minutes read
  • In the footsteps of migrants

    How a unique museum of personal migration stories from the past and the present is helping a city of 170 nationalities build a sense of belonging.

    7 minutes read
  • Digital classrooms

    You enter a fairy-tale VR world, where fantastical characters offer you secret items – but at a price. To win this bounty, you have a secret weapon at your disposal – maths!

    4 minutes read
  • The movement for movement

    How do you attract talent, and how do you enable talent? “It’s two branches of the same issue, working at the same time,” explains Marja Nyrhinen, whose job title, ‘City of Tampere coordinator of talent attraction and migration’ really says it all.

    6 minutes read
  • Access all areas

    Ensuring that all residents are able to experience a barrier free lifestyle is at the heart of Warsaw's plans for the spatial and societal development of the city.

    7 minutes read
  • One against poverty, one for climate!

    Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart of Tallinn shares his take on tackling poverty.

    2 minutes read
  • Sandboxing migration

    Sofia has taken new tack on migrant integration: “Exactly the same way as kids play in their sandboxes,” says Sevdalina Voynova, director of the Sofia Development Association “We’re doing the same thing with engineers and tech people.”

    10 minutes read
  • Purchasing power

    How one city is turning disadvantaged unemployed citizens into a thriving, motivated workforce through social clauses in public procurement.

    6 minutes read
  • Every student’s best school

    Malmo's target is based on a tailored approach to education, ensuring each child has the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to lead an active and independent life.

    5 minutes read