Author: Juan Martin González Cabañas – 03/12/2021
This article aims to contribute to local governance by describing the initiatives and platforms of collaborative networks of the cities of the region (Latin America – South America) for the management of the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Cities for Global Health
AL-LAs and the World Association of Metropolitan Cities (METROPOLIS) in collaboration with UCLG and UN-Habitat developed the Cities for Global Health initiative, with the aim of improving the response to the COVID-19 crisis through the exchange of experiences, initiative from metropolitan governments in different regions, compiled into a single shared knowledge platform.
The initiative promoted by UCLG, Metropolis and UN-Habitat is a platform for the exchange of experiences on local governance. The topics addressed in the live learning experiences are: women’s leadership, international cooperation, housing, accessibility, migration, mobility, local economic development, public workers, digitalization, informalities, security, local democracy, culture, food systems and local finance.
The initiative was launched in March 2020 and consists of three lines of action:
– to create a virtual and vital community, a secure environment, to share experiences of crisis management and protection of common goods.
– to Facilitate access to online resources for local governments and active exchange of materials, strategies and protocols to help others succeed and rapidly scale up the fight against the Covid-19 virus.
– to develop guides with UN-Habitat and other partners in response to the needs of local and regional governments, based on learning from local authorities as they prepare for and respond to the pandemic, and seeking to support the subsequent social and economic recovery.
- Mercociudades responde al COVID-19
In the midst of the global health emergency caused by the expansion of COVID-19, the Mercociudades network developed a strategy in support of its member cities; this platform is also supported by other partner organizations and consists of various local, regional and global tools.
The proposal is based on three bases:
– the generation of specific communication tools (web pages, social media dissemination, form to assist in project formulation, etc.)
– cooperation based on solidarity between the Member Cities and the various coordination bodies of the Mercociudades.
– the coordination of alliances with third parties, to share knowledge, innovate with management tools, to influence decisions.
- The Bank of Best Practices – Mercociudades and the Montevideo Group
The Bank of Best Practices is a digital catalogue where Best Practices carried out by local governments organized in different thematic areas are collected (participatory citizenship ; local-territorial development ; energy, infrastructure; environment ; cultural management ; urban-territorial planning ; social inclusion ; public health) – public policies that have had the participation or support of a university, public actions that are considered relevant to be shared with their peers, based on their usefulness for local governance.
- IDB Cities Network
It is a digital platform for Latin American and Caribbean cities to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and solutions to address the common challenges of post-pandemic urbanization.
Local leadership and networks in the management of the Covid-19 crisis
The Networks of cities in Latin America played a fundamental role in articulating efforts, facilitating the flow of communication of local governments to find answers to common problems arising from the crisis. During this global crisis, Paradiplomacy has shown that it has a role to play in multilevel governance, as it may in the future in managing or preventing future crises.
Opportunities and Challenges
Digital communications increased contacts between local officials to their peers and to city networks, increasing the level of participation and responsibility.
But this opportunity also presents a challenge; there is concern that international participation in city networks consolidates an endogamous character of decentralized cooperation in international relations, because it is usually the same cities that have the greatest participation (usually capital cities or large metropolis), which tend to have the most institutionalized international practice with specialized resources
Therefore this challenge remains the democratizing access to decentralized cooperation by more subnational governments, intermediate and small cities.
Another challenge is that the vast network of cities and subnational governments can lead to the dispersion of efforts, and that implication in a context of scarce resources (material and human).
Based on the empirical observation of the numerous and relevant networks of cities in Latin America that have implemented joint initiatives, in whose most outstanding cases in the region we have mentioned, and despite all the various and serious difficulties caused or deepened by the Covid 19 crisis, we might venture to say that:
Through a proactive role maintained in their collaborative networks, local governments in South America have sought to lead crisis management, through innovation, knowledge, collaboration and joint action.
International cooperation networks of local governments were relevant in the management of the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, having a mostly positive performance, in a tentative foresight, analyzing this trend; it seems that they will continue to play a prominent role in this issue, as well as in other issues on the international agenda.
The current harsh situation leaves us with no choice but to be optimistic.
Decentralized cooperation is just one more tool on the dashboard of local public decision makers that could be very beneficial for the development of their communities.
It is now the task of scholars, of thinkers, to reflect on how to give continuity to these synergies, and it is the task of public decision-makers to consolidate these synergies.
– AL-ALAS, Nivia, F., & Bernal, E. (2020). La acción internacional de los gobiernos locales en tiempos de crisis: Una perspectiva euro-latinoamericana (primera edición ed.). Proyecto AL-LAS (Alianza Euro Latinoamericana de Cooperación entre Ciudades).
– Alvarez, M., & Oddone, N. (2020, 5 agosto). Revisiting paradiplomacy in the context of COVID-19. E-IR.INFO.
– Diaz, J. (2014). Hacia la horizontalidad y descentralización de las relaciones internacionales: Estudio sobre Cooperación Sur-Sur Descentralizada (CSSD) en América Latina. Observatorio de Cooperación Descentralizada Unión Europea-América Latina. https://proyectoallas.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Hacia-la-horizontalidad-y-descentralizacion-de-las-relaciones-internacionales.pdf
– Fernández De Losada, A. (2016). La cooperación descentralizada en Iberoamérica: una mirada desde la cooperación Sur-Sur. PIFCSS (Programa Iberoamericano para el Fortalecimiento de la Cooperación Sur-Sur).
– Fernández De Losada, A., & Romero, M. H. (2016). Los gobiernos locales en la agenda internacional: ¿Actores o espectadores? (Primera edición ed.). Proyecto AL-ALAS. https://proyectoallas.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Cuaderno-AL-LAs-7.pdf
– Fernández De Losada, A. (Ed.). (2019). Repensando el ecosistema de redes internacionales de ciudades. Retos y oportunidades (primera edición ed.). CIDOB -Barcelona Centre for International Affairs-. Disponible en:
Other articles by Juan Martin González Cabañas published in Vision & Global Trends. International Institute for Global Analyses’ website:
- Debate on current Peruvian and South-American politics
- Mayo caliente in Latin America
- Economic briefing on Latin America: perspectives for post-pandemic recovery
- Alberto Fernandez in Latin Europe
- “Eurasia and Latin America in a multipolar world” by Andrés Serbin
- Public perception of the Sputnik V vaccine in Argentina and Latin America
- Vaccination: Market Commodity or Public Good?
- Vision & Global Trends presence at Latin American conference
- The world order after the US elections
- SAOCOM 1B: Italy and Argentina partners in outer space
- The slow decline of Catholicism in Latin America
- Latin America – Russia: An Agenda for Constructive Cooperation in the Post-COVID-19 Era
- Synthesis and analysis of the IEES Panorama of geopolitical trends Horizon 2040
- International Relations: a Critical Theory from the South American periphery
- Argentina in the Multipolar Order
- The War for the Web
- Old roads and new paradigms: on the last BRI Summit
- The second return of Marco Polo to Italy
- Huawei case: high tech war, strategic competition, geopolitical tension
- The South American and Venezuelan Uncertain Horizon