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Emergency Governance for Cities and Regions

The institutional dimension of rapid and radical action in response to global emergencies

Jointly with UCLG and Metropolis, LSE Cities is identifying implications for urban governance for addressing global emergencies at the city and regional level. This initiative aims to gather insights on how to build institutional capacities for more effective urban and territorial responses to complex emergencies and the governance of grand challenges.

Watch Philipp Rode's Presentation on Governing Complex Emergencies Watch Philipp Rode's Presentation on Governing Complex Emergencies
Watch Philipp Rode introduce the Emergency Governance Framework during a speech to the UCLG World Council on the 13th November

The COVID-19 epidemic has become the strongest indication so far that governance capacities at various levels of government fall short of delivering adequate responses to complex, global emergencies. This includes approaches to urban and regional governance which will have to change rapidly to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century. Place-based governance reforms are critical to accelerate the responses from subnational governments to the global health and climate crises, natural disasters, extreme and growing inequalities, unrest, socio-economic and political shocks, and a more fragile global economy.

The Emergency Governance Initiative aims to provide city and regional governments with actionable information, suitable frameworks, knowledge and resources to navigate the new demands of leading emergency responses. In that respect, its goal is also to inform the governance of grand challenges which are increasingly framed as complex emergencies, above all climate change. The initiative has three main components:

1.       A three-month Pilot Project establishing critical priorities based on stakeholder engagement, testing different modes of collecting and analysing data, and experimenting with relevant formats of reporting back to the target audiences.

2.       An Emergency Transitions Monitor collecting and analysing data from cities and regions on how they are transitioning into and out of emergency modes. This monitor will initially focus on COVID-19 urban governance and actions while centrally considering interventions beyond the immediate crisis responses. In particular, it will monitor to what extent crisis response experiments may become new fixtures of post-crisis governance.

3.       A UCLG Special Report on ‘Emergency Governance for Cities and Regions’ summarising the most relevant insights emerging from the Emergency Transitions Monitor alongside broader frameworks, knowledge and evidence on emergency governance. It will present findings on how cities and regions are reframing grand challenges as emergencies and how they are addressing related emergency responses. The report will also make suggestions for governance innovations addressing emergency modes.

Across these three components and in addition to specific outputs, the aim is to establish processes that enable collaboration, the sharing of knowledge and tools, and to inform parallel initiatives currently being developed by UCLG and Metropolis.



Policy Brief #01

Emergency Governance Initiative for Cities and Regions (July 2020)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis


Policy Brief #02

Towards a Concept and Framework for Governing Complex Emergencies (November 2020)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis

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Policy Brief #03

Financing Emergencies in Cities and Regions: ongoing lessons from the pandemic (January 2021)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis

Policy Brief 04

Policy Brief #04

Multilevel Emergency Governance: enabling adaptive and agile responses (September 2021)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis

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Policy Brief #05

Local Public Services in Crisis Mode: adapting governance models to exceptional times (March 2022)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis

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Policy Brief #06

Democracy and Representation for Emergency Action (July 2022)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis

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Analytics Note #01

COVID-19 Monitors of Relevance to Urban and Regional Governance (June 2020)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis.

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Analytics Note #02

The COVID-19 Response: governance challenges and innovations by cities and regions (July 2020)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis.


Analytics Note #03

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Subnational Finances (January 2021)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis.

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Analytics Note #04

Multilevel Governance and COVID-19 Emergency Coordination (December 2021)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis


Analytics Note #05

Local Public Services and Sustainable Development: shifts in priorities due to Covid-19 (April 2022)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis

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Analytics Note #06

Local Democracy During Complex Emergencies (April 2023)
LSE Cities, UCLG, Metropolis

Project Team

Management Group
Philipp Rode, Project Co-Lead, LSE Cities
Edgardo Bilsky,
Project Lead, UCLG
Oscar Chamat,
Project Lead, Metropolis
Nuno F da Cruz,
Project Co-Lead, LSE Cities
Ainara Fernández Tortosa
, Researcher, UCLG
Anna Calvete Moreno, Researcher, UCLG

Research and Coordination
Rebecca Flynn, Project Coordinator, LSE Cities
Catalina Duarte-Sanchez, Project Coordinator, LSE Cities
Nuno F da Cruz, Project Co-Lead, LSE Cities
Catarina Heeckt,
Researcher, LSE Cities
Bethany Mickleburgh,
Researcher, LSE Cities
Alex Gomes, Researcher, LSE Cities
Mirjam Sagi, Researcher, LSE Cities
Ainara Fernández Tortosa,
Researcher, UCLG
Anna Calvete Moreno,
Researcher, UCLG
José Álvarez, Researcher, UCLG
Jolie Guzman
Researcher, UCLG
Emilie Huet,
Researcher, UCLG
Oscar Chamat, Project Lead, Metropolis
Lia Brum,
Resarcher, Metropolis

Governing Board
Edgardo Bilsky, UCLG
Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General
Jo Beall, Distinguished Policy Fellow, LSE Cities
Octavi de la Varga, Metropolis Secretary General
Oscar Chamat, Research and Policy Officer
Philipp Rode, Executive Director, LSE Cities
Ramatouka Saw, Chief Deputy of Cabinet of the Mayor of Dakar
Ricky Burdett, Director, LSE Cities
Sithole Mbanga, Deputy Secretary General of UCLGA


25-27 May 2022 | UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, 7th Session
Governing complex emergencies: Implications for cities and regions – Philipp Rode, LSE Cities 

13-18 June 2022 | How do we support cities to handle complex global emergencies like COVID-19? - Philipp Rode, LSE Festival Shorts 2022

28 June 2022 | World Urban Forum 11th Session. Voices from Cities, Governing Complex Emergencies: The urban and regional response to COVID-19, the climate emergency and social justice crisis. Session summary

Image: Global Climate Strike, New York, 24 May 2019 | © Pacific Press/Getty Images

Management Group
Philipp Rode; Edgardo Blisky; Oscar Chamat; Nuno F da Cruz; Ainara Fernández Tortosa; Anna Calvete Moreno

Research and Coordination
Rebecca Flynn; Nuno F da Cruz; Catarina Heeckt; Bethany Mickleburgh; Mirjam Sagi; Catalina Duarte-Sanchez; Ainara Fernández Tortosa; Anna Calvete Moreno; José Álvarez; Jolie Guzman; Emilie Huet; Oscar Chamat; Lia Brum

Governing Board
Emilia Saiz, Sithole Mbanga, Edgardo Bilsky, Octavi de la Varga, Ramatouka Sow, Oscar Chamat, Jo Beall, Ricky Burdett, Philipp Rode

Advisory Group
Julian Baskin, Somsook Boonyabancha, Diane Davis, Eric Huybrechts, Jorge Pérez-Jaramillo, Naim Kapucu, Susan Parnell, Aromar Revi, Tony Travers, Lorena Zárate

Project Partners
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and Metropolis 

Research Strand
Urban Governance

May 2020 – June 2023