We find ourselves amid a historical crisis with terrifying health implications and obvious socioeconomic consequences. To survive these shocks many of us are taking one day at a time; feeling grateful for our health and those around us. Meanwhile, we must start thinking as soon as possible about post-emergency plans.
So, let me share a few humble personal suggestions on the post-COVID19 time:
The crisis has offered a few lessons and whatever recovery strategies are rolled out they will need to be socially and environmentally responsible. What if, for instance, public aids were conditional on their positive impact for the green transition and social justice? What about a comprehensive package of measures to re-orientate our economy to a sustainable, circular and resilient future? We cannot afford a recovery where climate neutrality and economic growth compete, it would be senseless and dangerous.
It’s not easy to name them as such, but opportunities can be found in this catastrophe: what if the use of cars massively decreased? We are all appreciating walking and cycling in these confinement ’car-free’ days. There is no shame in admitting it. What if online transnational meetings became a more regular way of working together so that less CO2 would be generated by international flights? What if we made teleworking smarter and more regular so that our days would be organised in a more flexible, human, but still very productive way? Maybe there are things we could learn to let go of, to relinquish, for a healthier future.
There are also things to restore. Things that we have in some ways lost or weakened and that would be good to bring back. Here I am thinking about values, and solidarity is an essential one, more than ever in these times. It is at the centre of our recent political statement on the crisis and it shows that cities could inspire other levels of government. And there are many more values that we should be mindful not to lose like care, trust and fundamental human rights.
Decision makers at all levels, including city leaders, have started thinking about the crisis aftermath and what strategies should be put in place, locally, nationally and as the EU. We are launching a EUROCITIES reflection about it and we want all our cities to be part of this effort to unlock the opportunities of the lock down.
So, as usual, stay tuned and safe!