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Shocks and the City: Adapting Urban Policies to Uncertainty

Cities need to counter and better prepare for multiple shocks, ranging from natural disasters and pandemics to wars and economic crises. This event will promote dialogue on the asymmetric impact of recent shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine on cities, and explore opportunities, challenges and solutions to reshape urban policies at all levels of government to better address uncertainty. The event will launch two OECD toolkits to help governments implement OECD Principles on Urban Policy and implement a territorial approach to the SDGs.

Tadashi Matsumoto



Monday, June 27, 2022


Multifunction Hall Room 4
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
NE 24


While cities have been altered by COVID-19, they are entering another unprecedented crisis whose magnitude still remains largely unknown. In these times of radical uncertainty, it is more important than ever to leverage the transformative role of cities in keeping recovery from the pandemic on track and building longer-term resilience against complex shocks. When thrown into the pandemic, many cities around the world have demonstrated great agility to deploy creative solutions, ranging from supporting local businesses to protecting vulnerable groups, including migrants and refugees, to ensuring the continuity of local public services. Cities have also managed to form networks and help each other develop policies and take action. While this experience has trained cities to respond in real time to a major shock, it has also underlined that crises hit differently across people, firms and places, even within the same country or the same city, and city governments have very uneven levels of resources and capacities to react. In this context, urban policymakers need to navigate constant uncertainty. The rise and mainstreaming of remote working in daily practices have paved the way for new spatial equilibrium scenarios, where cities of all sizes – particularly intermediary cities – might have a window of opportunity to drive a more polycentric and balanced model of urbanisation, as well as rural areas close to cities; but this will require putting in place the right enabling conditions to boost growth and offer high quality of life. Recovery strategies have also boosted the “twin transition” – i.e. digitalisation and the shift to net-zero economy – which will likely continue to change the way people live and work in the long term, but the uptake and the net impact of this transition will once again vary across people, firms and places and call for robust evidence to guide urban policies. Major uncertainty brought about by the war in Ukraine is threatening to underpin a new global systemic crisis, which will exert multiple ripple effects across cities beyond the humanitarian emergency and accelerating inflationary pressure. As a result, cities of all sizes are facing a renewed need to learn to better anticipate, prepare for and rebound from a myriad of economic, environmental, social and political shocks. It is urgent to discuss policies in response to events that destroy, or otherwise make uninhabitable, significant proportions of housing units within regions, as they are equally applicable in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine and to the anticipated increase in natural disasters affecting urban areas as the global climate changes. It is also vital to enhance cities’ networks and develop urban resilience as a system, domestically and internationally, so that cities can work together rather than stand alone. This networking event will be a unique opportunity to discuss how to address these profound urban challenges in the times of uncertainty.


This networking event will bring together decision makers and experts from different parts of the world to: (i) share the latest evidence on how the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Ukrainian crisis are shaking cities, based on research and policy dialogues conducted by the OECD and other partner institutions, and; (ii) explore concrete opportunities, challenges and solutions to reshape urban policies at all levels of government to help cities better address multiple shocks and uncertainty. The key objectives of the networking event are 1. Building consensus among the participants around common priorities to reshape urban policies in a context of uncertainty; 2. Share the latest evidence on how the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and other major shocks are shaking the status quo in cities; and 3. Exchanging concrete tools and approaches for addressing uncertainty.

Session speakers

Ms. Kim Soo-Jin
Acting Head of Division for Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development
Ms. Elisa Vilares
Chair of the OECD Working Party on Urban Policy / Head of Division of Territorial Development and Urban Policy
Ministry of Territorial Cohesion
Mr. Kurt Usowski
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Mr. Peter Kurz
City of Mannheim
Ms. Maria Mercedes Jaramillo
Secretary of Planning
City of Bogota
Mr. Remy Sietchiping
Chief of Policy, Legislation and Governance Section