Bridge for Cities 2021 will place a particular emphasis on innovations employed by cities to advance recovery and build resilience in the context of COVID-19, including those employed to accelerate climate action at the city-level.

Background

As the socio-economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated existing challenges in many cities, local governments have been called upon to act as first line responders and to lead the process of building back better, on a path towards resilient, inclusive, and green economic recovery for the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Conducted for the sixth consecutive year, Bridge for Cities 2021 provides a forum for Mayors and urban stakeholders to discuss and exchange views on relevant experiences, innovative solutions and to form new partnerships. This year’s event will place particular emphasis on innovations employed by cities along the Belt & Road and beyond to advance recovery and build resilience in the context of COVID-19, including those employed to accelerate climate action at the city-level.

The discussions will build upon the main findings of the 2020 edition – the first conducted during the pandemic – and they will be tailored around three major themes:

Inclusive Recovery and Technological Innovation

Green Recovery and Climate Action

Public-Private-
Partnerships for a Resilient Economic Recovery

Inclusive Recovery and Technological Innovation

Besides straining the capacities of health and economic systems worldwide, the pandemic has had a disruptive impact on how citizens move, interact, work and ultimately live in cities. Already during Bridge for Cities 2020, discussions with experts and Mayors confirmed that in the midst of lockdown and social distancing measures, digitalization is instrumental to overcome some of these difficulties, helping local governments to respond to ever-changing exigencies in terms of governance, social services, commerce, work and health. Promoting behavioural shifts and applying technology-based smart city solutions to managing the effects of COVID-19 are of continued importance to the urban economy, even beyond the crisis.

This year’s discussions will explore to what extent the technological innovations that cities enacted on an “emergency basis” will become structural, and which measures have been most effective to kickstart inclusive recovery at the urban level and to foster social resilience.

Green Recovery and Climate Action

Cities are engines for growth, as they are home to the great majority of countries’ productive, industrial and manufacturing activities. At the same time, they are paying the highest toll in terms of pollution and environmental degradation, especially when they undergo rapid and often under-regulated expansion processes. The cities of tomorrow must balance economic and geographic pressures with sustainability considerations. Mayors and experts joining this session will therefore discuss how measures taken now to respond and recover from the pandemic will serve the dual purposes of supporting local environmental action and global climate action to guide the transition towards a greener future and environmental resilience.

Public-Private-Partnerships for a Resilient Economic Recovery

Resilient economic recovery needs to be based on a whole-of-society approach, including at the urban level. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), if implemented well, have a potential to accelerate recovery, triggering investments in sectors heavily hit by the crisis.

While PPPs have usually targeted hard infrastructure investments, smaller-scale, quick-impact interventions have been spurred by the pandemic. They have supported local governments in devising technology-based tools that help citizens navigate e-government services – for example – or providing services remotely. PPP models could be applied more systematically to drive economic recovery as well as to support resilience of cities and to guard for future external shocks.

Structure

Conducted for the sixth consecutive year, Bridge for Cities 2021 provides a forum for Mayors and urban stakeholders to discuss and exchange views on relevant experiences, innovative solutions and to form new partnerships. This year’s event will place particular emphasis on innovations employed by cities along the Belt & Road and beyond to advance recovery and build resilience in the context of COVID-19, including those employed to accelerate climate action at the city-level.

Draft Event Agenda | 31 October

Central European Summer Time (CEST) GMT +2

 10:00 – 10:50

OPENING CEREMONY

During the opening ceremony, distinguished dignitaries will share their visions, knowledge and expertise on the importance of cities as key partners in navigating through the crisis and for achieving the 2030 Agenda.  

LAUNCH OF ‘BRIDGE FOR CITIES’ KNOWLEDGE PLATFORM

11:00 – 12:15

MAYORS ROUNDTABLE 1 – GREEN RECOVERY AND CLIMATE ACTION

Mayors will present concrete responses and initiatives linking green local recovery and growth with global climate action. UNIDO will present its ongoing interventions aimed at promoting green development, E-mobility and the sustainable cities programme.

12:30 – 13:45

MAYORS ROUNDTABLE 2 – INCLUSIVE RECOVERY AND
TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION

The participating Mayors will discuss and showcase innovative & technology-based recovery measures taken in their cities to pursue inclusive growth and job creation, especially for MSMEs and for protecting vulnerable groups. UNIDO will present its ongoing Industry 4.0 interventions aimed at promoting inclusive and gender-equal recovery.

13:45 – 14:00

BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE – CONNECTING CITIES IN THE PURSUIT OF CLIMATE GOALS

The roundtable will feature experts and representatives from leading businesses active in developing, implementing and applying innovative technologies in cities, in close cooperation with local governments, to support economic recovery and transition towards a resilient urban future. Success models will be presented and eventually included in the Bridge for Cities Knowledge platform.

14:00 – 16:00

CLOSING REMARKS

Co-hosted by:

Finance Center

Partners:

BRIDGE for Cities 2021 Documents

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