The impact of COVID-19 on cities in Asia and the Pacific is unprecedented. The nature of cities, including spatial density and informal nature of economic activities, uneven access to affordable housing and basic services for the urban poor, unplanned urban growth, and mixed progress on the implementation of the SDGs at the local level have exposed unique pandemic-related challenges which will affect the future of sustainable urbanization in the region. It is expected that some of the socioeconomic gains achieved in recent decades across the region may be swept away, but the magnitude of the losses, and the full impact on urban areas is yet to be determined.

ESCAP is organizing a Virtual Expert Group Meeting on the topic of ‘Response and Recovery: Asia-Pacific Cities on the Front Lines of COVID-19.’ The meeting is organized by ESCAP and will take place on 5 October 2020 from 12.00 to 14.30 hours Bangkok time (GMT+7) on Zoom (dial in information to be shared once registered).

The primary objective of this meeting is to identify and discuss sustainable approaches to support Asia-Pacific cities to build back better from COVID-19. The meeting will feature a diverse set of speakers and participants from member States, cities, stakeholders, development partners and experts. The interactive discussion will provide inputs to the development of a new ESCAP discussion paper “The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities in the post-COVID19 era” which will be presented at the meeting. The discussion paper builds on the four thematic priorities and fifteen development pathways from ESCAP’s flagship report “The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities Report 2019” which was launched at the seventh session of the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF7).

The policy recommendations from this meeting will also inform member States’ deliberations during ESCAP’s sixth Session of the Committee on Environment and Development (https://www.unescap.org/intergovernmental-meetings/committee-environment-and-development-sixth-session) which will be held from 9 to 10 December 2020 and contribute to the regional commemoration of World Habitat Day.