BUILDING INCLUSIVE CITIES #6
Featuring: Sanjay Sridhar, Former C40 Regional Director for South and West Asia
José Luis Chicoma, Head of Ethos Laboratorio de Políticas Públicas
Moderator: ElsaMarie DSilva, Red Dot Foundation
Prathima Manohar, The Urban Vision
On April 17, 2020, ElsaMarie DSilva, Founder & CEO of Red Dot Foundation (Safecity) and Prathima Manohar, Founder of The Urban Vision, both alumni of Stanford Centre of Democracy Development and Rule of Law’s (CDDRL) Leadership Network for Change hosted a webinar on Building Inclusive Cities to explore the ideas for urbanism to make our cities climate resilient and sustainable.
Sanjay Sridhar, Former C40 Regional Director for South and West Asia, and José Luis Chicoma, Head of Ethos Laboratorio de Políticas Públicas, lent perspective to different ideas regarding how Covid-19 can act as catalyser to reshape our cities and potentially trigger more equitable and sustainable urban future.
The discussion highlights the following themes:
● Covid-19 has reflected upon uncontrolled and unregulated development which has severely impacted our climate.
● Climate change and health risks are interconnected. It is evident from the fact that a child in an environment like Delhi has lower lung capacity. This might be true for other cities as well with high air pollution.
● The people on the streets under lockdown i.e informal workers in developing cities are without adequate social protection.
● Not only has domestic violence increased during covid lockdown, but because of fewer ‘eyes on the street’ per Jane Jacobs, we may expect an increase in street violence as well.
● Ground realities of Covid19 such as food waste from supply chain disruptions, have exposed several layers of gap i.e capacity gaps. Our cities are terribly under-prepared and under-resourced to face crises like these.
● Sanjay Sridhar states, “Covid-19 is a blessing in disguise if we wish to see it as a reflection of our lifestyle choices, namely how we commute, how we earn a livelihood. It can bring some transformative and disruptive changes. For example, AQI in Bangalore has dropped to 23 during the lockdown.”
● We don’t have the liberty to our consumption needs, there are boundaries and limits to the way we work and live. “When we open the economy back up, we will have realised what changes we can make in our daily habits to preserve the health and climate gains during coronavirus lockdown. And tech companies will start rethinking the need to keep everyone on centralised campuses.”, says Sanjay Sridhar.
● “We need better coordinating systems at different levels of governance. Governments need to activate and expand social safety nets, especially direct transfers to low-income households.” says José Luis Chicoma.
● This serious family health issue is to be addressed by the government and develop gender perspective responses. ElsaMarie D’Silva suggests,”If you are affected, realize that help is available and if you are not directly affected, learn how you can be an active bystander.”
● Sanjay Sridhar says, “Different governance models can help deliver better services and prepare themselves for calamities and situations of pandemic. Devolution of power to mayors (with accountability for decisions) is how cities in Latin America and parts of East Asia (e.g. Seoul) have been more effective than cities in South Asia in providing infrastructure for resilience.
Covid has laid bare the importance of responsiveness to the ground situation, something for which city governments are better positioned than state/national governments.”
We need to rethink how cities function and make them integral part of policy making, not mere service delivery agents. There is a need to link the planning process to the ecological footprints. Covid has led to a collective reckoning, and technology will be a key factor in shaping the resultant new paradigms.