“The green, digital and social transitions: Towards a new eco-social pact”, Marta Galceran-Vercher and Max Bouchet (CIDOB, Spain)

The post-pandemic recovery of the world economy has presented cities with the opportunity to “build back better”, as urged by the UN Secretary-General. In this context, many local governments have promoted recovery programmes to initiate and accelerate the longer-term transformation of their city, from public transit and green spaces to energy transition-resilient infrastructure.  City leaders are facing two pressing challenges. On the one hand, climate change is having a disproportionate impact on cities, bringing urban heat, water scarcity, sea-level rise and population displacement. Advancing a green transition has become a matter of collective responsibility to protect the future and mitigate the impacts of climate change. At the same time, the spread of digital innovation is deeply changing the nature of work, human interactions and relations with government, presenting great opportunities for progress but also risks related to inequality, transparency and privacy. These two interlinked processes, climate neutrality and digitalisation, must drive the transformation of cities. As such, recovering from COVID-19 means addressing multiple dimensions of development and connecting goals that are usually approached separately. What does it mean, programmatically and politically, to develop and implement a just green and digital transition? What roles do cities play within this multi-scalar process? How can alliances between cities, other urban stakeholders and the international community support a new eco-social pact? This CIDOB Briefing discusses how cities can approach the post-pandemic recovery through a rights agenda. The paper (1) explores how current transitions are bringing about new inequalities in urban contexts, and (2) makes recommendations to enable and accelerate a just green and digital transition. 

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