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Statement by the International Urban Cooperation Program for Latin America and the Caribbean: cities and the new coronavirus

The crisis triggered by the new coronavirus highlights the need for firm and vigorous public policy responses, demonstrating the enormous responsibility that falls on the public spheres of governments and, in particular, on local governments, that are directly responsible for urban management and the functioning of cities. City governments and municipal administrations are directly associated with the welfare, health, safety and prosperity of their citizens playing a key role in the provision of basic urban services. Today, we know that the struggle for the sustainability of our planet and the implementation of mitigation and adaption policies to tackle climate change highlights the essential role of local governments.

The responsibilities of city mayors and local leaders is catapulted to an unprecedented level during this Covid 19 crisis period. The responsibility for the formulation and implementation of short- and medium-term policies and strategies that keep the city functioning and dealing with its various challenges rests on his/her shoulders and on his/her teams, while being compelled to adopt measures to face the pandemic. Integrating instead of sectorizing, maximizing instead of wasting, cooperating instead of individualizing, preventing instead of reacting, thinking globally and acting locally should guide municipal actions.

In this sense, the European Union’s International Program for Urban Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean (IUC-LAC) calls upon mayors of the more than 400 cities participating in the program for quick and efficient local action, aiming to minimize the spread of the virus and contain the spread of the Covid-19 disease. Cities are better positioned to assist the population in implementing preventive actions and, when necessary, to impose locally restrictive measures of collective interest. It is important to always follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health of each country.

Local authorities and governments should guide the population, through available communication channels, regarding symptoms, hygiene care and prevention and, particularly, regarding the collective use of public and socializing spaces, which should be minimized during this period. The fight against the pandemic in the cities will be decisive to guarantee the well-being of the population, the security and the economic recovery of the countries.

Our partners and national coordinators in the various countries in which we operate with climate actions, such as the Brazilian Association of Municipalities (ABM), the oldest Brazilian municipal entity, are working to support municipalities, informing and providing guidance to local leaders. Access(Portuguese). The UCLG – United Cities and Local Governments is actively supporting and providing city leaders with information and guidance in the region. Acess (Spanish).

City-to-City Cooperation and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy

The current COVID-19 crisis has affected the entire work agenda of the IUC-LAC Program.. Travel between Europe and Latin America related to the city-to-city cooperation, as well as the activities of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy such as national seminars and congresses and face-to-face training were all cancelled and postponed for the second semester. Taking into account the normalization scenarios in the world, countries and cities we will seek to reestablish normal program implementation when conditions allow us to do so.

Events in Argentina, Cuba, Mexico and Peru, as well as the exchanges planned for 2020 – Trujillo (Peru) / Pitesti (Romania); Temuco (Chile) / Kavala (Greece); Cordoba (Argentina) / Zagreb (Croatia); São Paulo (Brazil) / Milan (Italy); Viña del Mar (Chile) / Almada (Portugal); Cartagena (Colombia) / Malaga (Spain); Barranquilla (Colombia) / Veletri (Italy); and Quilicura (Chile) / European Union city not yet defined – are postponed until further notice.

The coordination of the IUC-LAC Program is working with alternative dates to implement this agenda by the end of the year and at present we are organizing ourselves to hold our events, meetings, seminars and webinars, in a virtual way, making use of the various information and digital communication technologies available and within reach. Our team is at your disposal for additional information and continuing support.

On behalf of the entire IUC-LAC Program team, I wish a speedy recovery and normalization of life in our cities.

Claudio Acioly Jr

IUC-LAC Program Director

Brasilia – DF – Brasil

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