A crisis-resilience handbook for innovative urban projects


Covid report


Nearly four years after the first detected case of Covid-19 in 2019 and ensuing global state of emergency that had implications for every aspect of the modern life, the World Health Organization downgraded Covid-19 from a global health emergency to a long-term and manageable health threat.

Modern life, and especially urban life, may have returned to normal, however, the aftermath of the global pandemic and the changes it has bequeathed for the way we build our cities and live our lives will have longer lasting effects. Although the global pandemic was highly damaging, it was the catalyst for many inspiring solutions that are now an integral part of the way we think about cities. This study focuses on these inspiring practices implemented by UIA supported cities.

In collaboration with a team of three experts, the UIA therefore led a study on the experiences of a selection of cities implementing innovative urban projects during the pandemic. The objective is to provide cities across the EU with concrete recommendations, derived from the experience of their peers, to help them build their resilience in the face of unforeseen challenges. The study had two main phases (see Appendix 1 for more details):

a) Data gathering.

A preliminary screening of the UIA projects and their challenges and the solutions they had implemented was carried out by the study team and the UIA Secretariat to identify the main study questions. The UIA cities showing potential to contribute to the study were then invited to focus group discussions to provide more details about their practices. An initial version of the “Handbook for crisis-resilient Innovation” was drafted following this step.

b) Learning workshop and final output.

3 parallel learning workshops addressing the main study questions were held. This enabled us to present cities with the results of the study and concrete recommendations on how to better prepare and respond to an unforeseen crisis. The workshops were open to all cities, whether UIA supported or not. The present final version of the handbook was then drafted following these workshops.

Although the study is based on the experiences of UIA cities, the challenges confronted and solutions put in place offer useful insights for cities across the EU. The Covid-19 pandemic serves in this study as an example of a large-scale unforeseen crisis that affected all cities in a similar way. The distinguishing factor between them was their level of resilience in managing and recovering from Covid-19’s impacts.

We hope this handbook and its insights into operational factors of resilience will be a useful reference for innovative urban projects.

Executive Summary

Facing numerous challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, cities are testing and creating the future of local public action through multiple innovations in urban policy delivery. It is important to understand how these innovations will affect the way cities operate and how they will better prepare cities for the next crisis and increase their resilience.


Several months after the Covid-19 crisis hit, the UIA programme decided it was necessary to step back and learn from the challenges that had arisen and from the successful (or not) practices implemented by UIA cities to overcome them. In light of the secular uncertainty in which cities must now develop and implement policies, the adaptive measures implemented by UIA projects during the COVID-19 crisis should be valuable to other UIA projects and EU cities.


Theme 1 - Project & Partnership Management: In terms of Project and Partnership Management, the shock brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges in three main areas considered here: 1) the forms of communication/interaction among partners and colleagues...


Phases of the Research