Policy Brief #05 - Local Public Services in Crisis Mode



Emergency Governance Initiative, March 2022

Policy Brief #05 focuses on governance models of local public services. Rather than discussing which models are better suited to particular local contexts, it reviews governance innovations, organisational responses and other developments that can help inform local public services around the globe in relation to their readiness and effectiveness to respond to complex emergencies.

The brief illustrates how local public services worldwide have dealt with the COVID-19 crisis and extracts lessons that may be useful in facing future emergencies. To unpack how public service operators navigated the competing priorities posed by the pandemic, it also relies on a more detailed analysis of the cases of welfare and social care services in Kempen (Belgium), energy, sanitation, gas and water with household waste removal and telecommunications subsidiaries in Medellín (Colombia), and water in Terrassa (Spain).

Public services – such as education, healthcare, and water and sanitation – underpin many fundamental human, social, cultural, and economic rights. During the pandemic, the critical importance of public services became increasingly apparent. Beyond care services, digital broadband connectivity and safe public space came to be seen as ‘new essential services’, paramount for people’s health, wellbeing and equal opportunities in an era of remote working and virtualisation of everyday life.

Download the Policy Brief here