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Governing Complex Emergencies: The urban and regional response to COVID-19, the climate emergency and social justice crisis

The Emergency Governance Initiative is a programme by LSE Cities, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the global network of large cities and metropolitan areas, Metropolis. It investigates the institutional dimension of rapid and radical action in response to global emergencies. Since its inception in May 2020, it has published a series of policy briefs and analytic notes and conducted workshops and case-study analyses on which this event is based. The COVID-19 pandemic is currently the most tangible complex emergency to which cities and regions around the world have responded with innovation and determination. They have repurposed existing institutional structures to tackle emerging challenges and pioneered new communication and decision-making methods. Successful emergency responses require high levels of scrutiny and a commitment to transparency and accountability. Moreover, the governance capacities of cities and regions were tested as part of multilevel emergency governance, the redistribution of political power and enormous coordination efforts across different tiers of government.

Philipp Rode


date June 28, 2022 | 11:45 - 13:15
ICC: Voices from Cities Room A
LSE Cities, London School of Economics (LSE), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and World Association of the Major Metropolises (Metropolis)
Polish, Spanish, English, French + CART
VC-A 4


Over the last few years, city and regional governments have played an increasingly critical role in responding to Complex Global Emergencies (CGE) such as COVID-19, the climate emergency and an increasingly evident social justice crisis. They do so by assisting with defining, deliberating, and ultimately responding to these emergencies. Complex emergencies are understood here as global emergencies that are political in nature and that can erode the cultural, civil, political and economic stability of societies. This event brings together the experiences from cities and regions of how they are governing different complex emergencies. Alongside, critical insights from the Emergency Governance Initiative (EGI) on related frameworks, principles and guidelines will be shared.

This event will draw on crucial learnings from cities and regions that have actively engaged in responses to COVID-19, the climate emergency and social justice crisis. These learnings will cut across multilevel emergency governance, new communication strategies, innovative democratic engagement, and territorial approaches. The proposed event also recognises the direct connection between emergency governance and the need for more urgent and radical action advancing the global agendas. 

The event would have 3 main sections: 

  • A keynote presentation on the inspirational frameworks and insights developed by the EGI
  • Accounts of emergency governance in cities and regions, focussing on leadership, innovation and governance learnings based on three types of Complex emergencies: COVID-19, the climate emergency and social justice crisis. 
  • A discussion forum between panellists and participating guests making use of mentimiter, zoom chat and live participation.


1. Provide city and regional governments with actionable information, suitable frameworks, knowledge, and resources to navigate the new institutional demands of responding to complex, global emergencies.

2. Learn from cities and regions how they have engaged with different complex emergencies and had to find new institutional approaches to rapid and radical action:

3. Discuss with the audience the importance of innovation for governing complex emergencies with a particular focus on democratic legitimacy of rapid and radical decision-making and governments’ accountability and transparency.

4. Generate input and feedback on the Emergency Governance Initiative preliminary frameworks and approaches which will then inform a special report on Emergency Governance by Cities and Regions (to be published).

Emergency Governance for Cities and Regions

Session speakers

Mr. Philipp Rode
Executive Director
LSE Cities
Ms. Emilia Saiz
Secretary General
Ms. Michaela Kauer
Head of Brussels Office
City of Vienna
Ms. Claudia Lopez
Mayor of the City
City of Bogota
Mr. Khululekile Mase
Deputy Director-General: Urban Planning
Gauteng Province