The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, urged this Tuesday to use the coronavirus pandemic to drive a great transformation in cities around the world, with responses to the climate crisis and the large inequalities that the coronavirus has made evident.
“It is time to rethink and reshape the urban world. Now is the time to adapt to the reality of this pandemic and future pandemics,” Guterres said in a video message.
The head of the United Nations presented a report on the impact of COVID-19 in urban settings, with recommendations for recovery in these areas, which are being hit hardest by the virus.
“Urban areas are ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 90% of reported cases,” recalled Guterres, who highlighted the serious consequences that are being experienced in many cities, with overloaded health systems, health services, inadequate water and sanitation and other problems.
Especially in the poorest areas of the world, where the pandemic “has revealed deep-rooted inequalities,” he said.
The United Nations offers three major recommendations, starting precisely with measures to respond to these inequalities and improve social cohesion.
“We must give priority to the most vulnerable in our cities, for example, guaranteeing everyone a safe place to shelter and emergency housing for those who are homeless. Access to water and sanitation is also vital,” said Guterres.
The UN also calls for basic public services without interruptions and equality in access to healthcare, urging support for the poorest and most vulnerable with free or low-cost tests and treatments and, where it exists, with a vaccine.
Second, Guterres calls for the resources of local governments to be strengthened so that they can continue to provide key public services.
Lastly, it calls for supporting cities so they can bet on a sustainable, inclusive and green recovery.
“The rapid adoption of telework illustrates how societies can transform themselves into what appears to be overnight to cope with urgent threats,” Guterres said.
“We must act with the same urgency and firmly decide to transform cities and tackle climate and pollution crises,” he added.