How Can Cities Tackle the COVID-19 Pandemic? (Part 2)
If cities are “the battleground where the climate war will largely be won or lost”, they are also destined to play a decisive role in overcoming the current health crisis. But for our cities to provide an efficient response to the new scenario created by the coronavirus pandemic, they should also begin to redefine their urban planning policies. This article presents the second instalment of a series of proposed measures that cities could implement to adapt to the pandemic.
- Threefold sovereignty for cities: The health crisis has exposed problems stemming from the delocalised production of essential goods. It’s therefore vital to boost the self-sufficiency of our cities in three areas: energy – by producing renewable energy, food – by means of local agro-ecological strategies, and industry/technology – for the clean, innovative, sustainable manufacture of health products and other essential ítems.
- Local production models: Following on from the previous point, we need to diversify the economy and avoid hyper-dependence on sectors like tourism, while at the same time encouraging local businesses and municipal markets as spaces of both supply and social interaction. This will allow us to move on towards more sustainable, more responsible forms of consumption and production.
- Participation and solidarity: The lockdown situation illustrates the importance of solidarity and social networks which make the city meaningful as a space for community interaction and exchange. Cities should harness such citizens’ initiatives to include active citizen participation policies in their planning for the post-coronavirus period.
- Healthy, inclusive public spaces: We should consider transformations that will improve the quality of public spaces and green zones, increase biodiversity, and integrate Nature more into the urban environment. The unsustainable layout of our streets, where at present 70% of public space is reserved for motor vehicles, must also be rethought. This is currently an even bigger problem because the widths of pavements, for example, make distancing for health safety imposible.
- New mobility: One of the big challenges in this crisis is how to prioritise less pollutant means of transport while at the same time safeguarding the health of the population. The answer here, at a time when the need for long journeys has been reduced thanks to teleworking and flexible timetables, would be a firm commitment to pedestrianisation and infrastructures for cyclists (why not start talking about cycle streets instead of cycle lanes?).
In our opinion, despite all the dramatic situations and consequences this pandemic is creating, coronavirus also offers us a major opportunity to bring about a change of urban model that will transform our cities into healthier, more egalitarian, more habitable environments. And perhaps the 10 proposals we’ve put forward will serve as a source of inspiration and an aid for doing just that. It remains to be seen whether we are able to articulate a proposal and a collective movement that will consolidate such a change. As long as we are aware that the potential for change lies in our own hands, in our own capacity to vindicate it and make it happen, the city of the future will be however we want it to be.
You can read the first part of the article HERE.
Text translated by Andrew V.Taylor