Urban Journalism Institute
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Cities in 2023

Permacrisis is an extended period of instability and insecurity. According to the Collins Dictionary, it is the word of the year 2022, and it seems more than pertinent in describing the situation and the overwhelming and common feeling for most in the past year. Polycrisis is another concept widely referred to in 2022 to describe multiple interlinked global emergencies, or the interwoven nature of one crisis embedded in others. It is worth reading Adam Tooze’s Chartbook #192 to reflect a bit deeper on the implications and extent of ‘polycrisis’. 

Both terms relate to the notion of complex global emergencies. The London School of Economics-LSE, UCLG, and Metropolis started to jointly research for and apply this term at the beginning of 2020 through the Emergency Governance for Cities and Regions Initiative. Complex emergencies are defined as long, political in nature, and ones capable of eroding the cultural, civil, and economic stability of societies. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is currently the most tangible complex emergency to which local governments have shown their capacity to respond to. The coordinated multilevel governance, tested successfully during the pandemic, is the path towards a more representative,

inclusive, and efficient multilateral system. The so-called “Multilateralism 2.0” requires greater recognition of the role of non-state actors, such as local and regional governments. The climate crisis, the growth in inequalities, and social injustice should be treated as emergencies, and they require a new governance architecture, redistribution of resources, and competencies across different tiers of government. 

A democratic and feminist local leadership is ready to be seated in global decision-making. Geopolitical competition and political changes should not hide the daily and collective efforts to ensure rights and transformative action. 

Localizing sustainability is the way to show that we care, trust, and collaborate. Efforts on accessibility, affordable housing, climate change adaptation, mobility, and equity are happening at the local and regional level. 

In this context of permanent instability, the year 2023 should spotlight the Power of We, the Cities of Yes and the diverse cultures through which our common humanity is expressed.