Virtual Event: Cities and Contagion – Implications of COVID-19 on Cities and the Urban Poor

Date/Time
Date(s) - 05/20/2020
11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Harvard Club of the United Kingdom and the GSD Alumni Council invite GSD alumni to join a virtual speaking event:

Speaker
Sameh Wahba, MUP’97, Ph.D’02, KSGEE’13
Global Director for the World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice
GSD Alumni Council Member

Co-host
Earle Arney, MArch ’93
GSD Alumni Council member

Click below to register. Registration will close 24 hours prior to the event. Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees 24-48 hours in advance of the event. This event is hosted by the Harvard Club of the United Kingdom and Harvard Key log-in is required to register.

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Event Details: 
COVID-19 is threatening cities and communities across the globe in an unprecedented way. In addition to its impact on public health, the COVID-19 epidemic is generating multifaceted, and likely prolonged economic impacts, ranging from disrupted global supply chains to bankrupted small businesses, with significant job losses and impacts on livelihoods of people everywhere, and especially informal sector workers and those with irregular earnings and unstable jobs and lack safety nets to weather the crisis.

Many cities in developing countries – both megapolises and secondary cities alike – with limited capacity and without the needed emergency response and preparedness will likely be potential hotspots of virus transmission and contagion. One billion people live in slums and informal settlements in the developing world where social distancing is unfeasible and thus the risk of community transmission is very high. The lack of basic services and infrastructure, especially for hygiene (water, sanitation and waste collection) and health, and reliance on communal facilities (e.g. public standpipes or latrines) accelerates infection rates and compounds the difficulties of responding to the disease.

City governments are in the frontline of combating the COVID-19 epidemic together with national disaster risk management and public health authorities. City governments have critical responsibilities including: (i) city-wide emergency actions to prevent viral transmission and care for the affected; (ii) targeted emergency support to the most vulnerable people from a health and livelihood perspective; (iii) recovery efforts through implementation of economic recovery programs and investments targeted at firms, communities and livelihoods. At the same time, as a result of an important decline in and impact on economic activities, cities will have much lower levels of local revenues with which to discharge their responsibilities.

This presentation will discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on cities and the urban poor and will outline key priorities for action in the immediate, short and medium-term, as well reflect on how cities might fare in the future as a result of this pandemic.

About the Speaker:
Sameh Wahba is the Global Director for the World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice, based in Washington, D.C. The Global Practice, which also covers territorial development, geospatial and results-based-financing, has a portfolio of over 200 projects with $30bn in investment, program-for-results and development policy lending and 450 staff.

Mr. Wahba is an urban specialist with 25 years’ experience in housing, land, local economic development, urban management and municipal service delivery, and post-disaster reconstruction and recovery. He served in senior management and leadership positions in the Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa Regions. Prior to joining the World Bank in 2004, he worked at the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) and at the Harvard Center for Urban Development Studies.

Mr. Wahba holds a Ph.D. and a Master in urban planning from Harvard University, and a Masters and Bachelor degree in Architecture from Cairo University. He co-authored the World Bank flagship publications “Regenerating Urban Land: A Practitioner’s Guide to Leveraging Private Investment” and “The Hidden Wealth of Cities: Creating, Financing, and Managing Public Spaces” as well as “Culture in City Reconstruction and Recovery” Position Paper jointly with UNESCO.

Linked In: linkedin.com/in/SamehNWahba
Twitter: @SamehNWahba

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