G20 announces global urban resilience fund

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The Urban 20, a G20 Engagement Group, has disclosed plan to create Global Urban Resilience Fund in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While disclosing this on Friday October 30, 2020, President of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, Fahd Al-Rasheed, stated that the fund is the first of its type developed by cities.

“We have the opportunity right now to learn from the impact of COVID-19, to study how to build cities which are more resilient and agile,” he said.

“The cities of the U20 have taken the lead to develop a fund for city action to combat the pandemic and mitigate future urban shocks. The goal of the fund is to accelerate the transmission of new learning and ideas for a more secure future for all urban residents,” he added.

The Fund comes as a response to the findings of the U20 Special Working Group (SWG) on COVID-19, which was set up by the U20 Chair city, Riyadh, together with co-chair cities Rome and Buenos Aires.

“The challenge of our times is the fight against the pandemic. A struggle that is not only a challenge to restore the best health conditions; but, more, it is remedying the economic consequences of the pandemic,” said Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi commented.

“Cities cannot tackle this alone: solid support from states is needed, but, at the same time, it is necessary to pool resources and create new tools.

“The Global Urban Resilient Fund represents an intelligent way to meet these needs, and the commitment of the next Italian U20 Presidency will be to carry this forward and make it concrete.”

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Mayor of Buenos Aires, the founding city of the U20, said, “Local government budgets will not be enough to carry out the sustainable urban reconstruction and job creation that will need to take place in the coming years.”

“We need to use our collective voice to facilitate cities’ access to stimulus and recovery packages and to support innovative financial instruments that favor “green” financing, such as the Global Urban Resilient Fund,” a statement issued by U20 quoted him as saying.

The Special Working Group brought together a further ten member cities; Amsterdam, Helsinki, Houston, Izmir, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Tshwane, along with seven Knowledge Partners; University of Pennsylvania, Coalition for Urban Transition, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, OECD, International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group), Agence Française de Développement and Université Gustave Eiffel.

The need for a cities fund arose from the Special Working Group on COVID-19 which gathered 32 case studies and surveyed 21 cities covering a population size of over 75 million, said the statement.

In its report, the Special Working Group recommended the creation of a Global Urban Resilience Fund to address the dual challenge that the pandemic crisis hit all cities, but cities are not financially empowered to respond or build resilient city infrastructure of the magnitude required.

“The goals of the Fund are to act as a shared and accessible Fund for cities, governed by cities; and provide agile disaster response funds for cities for effective, transparent and rapid emergency actions; access to critical infrastructure investments that increase the resilience of cities; and financial products and instruments including grants and loans to cities while providing new opportunities for investors.

“The ultimate aim is to unlock and develop new financial instruments and funding mechanisms for cities currently unavailable through international finance architecture, the statement adds.

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