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July 30, 2020 / by Jerome Kusters / In Sustainability

TSC Thursdays - Leveraging Data-Driven Insights to Navigate the Transformation to Sustainable Cities

TSC Thursdays is a weekly TSC blog post with top trending news and issues pertaining to UN Sustainable Goals. TSC’s SDG COVID Impact Dashboard applies our proprietary models and methodologies to filter the global chatter through a dynamic issue taxonomy to track and visualize COVID-19's impact across 17 SDGs in real-time. For more insights on global SDG commitment, sentiment and activity explore our SDG COVID Impact Dashboard here: https://sdg-covid.tsc.ai



This week TSC's SDG COVID Impact Dashboard highlights "Sustainable Cities and Communities" and how this concept is being promoted as the key catalyst in advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals post-COVID. On the basis of insights and trends provided by the Impact Platform we provide a snapshot of its capabilities in identifying and linking the key topics and Stakeholders required to take into account to accelerate such transition.


On Tuesday 28 July, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for efforts to build sustainable cities amid the pandemic. He mentioned that even though cities are bearing the brunt of the crisis, the coronavirus pandemic also presents the unique opportunity to reshape urban areas into more resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities. He added that it is highly recommended for cities to pursue a green, resilient and inclusive economic recovery in this transition process.

Guterres' call to action went hand in hand with the publication of the UN Policy Brief 'COVID in an Urban World', which was released on the same day. We analyzed the 3 targets set in the report against the trends and insights shown by the SDG Impact Platform, thereby identifying some of the key topics and Stakeholders that are currently central to COVID-sparked challenges and opportunities in urban areas across the globe.


1. Tackling inequalities and development deficits

The UN urges the need to prioritize those who are the most vulnerable in our cities, providing shelter and emergency housing to those without homes as well as providing access to clean water and sanitation to all. Especially the inadequate state of public services in informal settlements and slums requires urgent attention. In his speech, Guterres mentioned that many governments are taking action to avoid evictions and providing access to basic needs including clean water and sanitation.

The SDG COVID Impact Dashboard demonstrates that public authorities are not alone in this fight. As of the early days of the pandemic corporate initiatives have been instrumental in providing access to clean water and sanitation. TSC's atium technology provides a real-time volume and sentiment-based 'Share of Voice' breakdown, which shows coverage of the key industries currently stepping up to provide relief:



2. Strengthening the capacities of local actors, particularly local governments

The UN's Policy brief emphasises on the need to empower local authorities to build back better through government-released stimulus packages, as well as promoting the notions of transparency, accountability and clear communication at all levels.

The SDG COVID Impact Platform is able to identify the trending and emerging Stakeholders that are perceived central players in current debates and efforts involving local authorities:


  • Bogota: the City of Bogota introduced several programmes and tools to protect women from domestic violence. The city's Mayor stated: "The pandemic that plagues Bogotá the most is not that of a virus but that of violence against women. That is why we must commit to a new social contract where we give women greater opportunities for study and work, and security so that they can live without fear." (here)
  • Mumbai: Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has hailed the Dharavi model of Covid 19 containment and said that Asia’s largest slum was an inspiration for the rest of the world on how to contain the spread of coronavirus disease. (here)
  • Mexico City: Facing a wave of evictions for not being able to pay the rent due to the economic crisis, several groups have proposed an initiative in the Mexico City Congress addressing the problem of unemployment and absence of formal lease agreements. (here)

3. Pursuing a resilient, inclusive, gender equal and green economic recovery

According to the UN, local authorities, in cooperation with a coalition of relevant stakeholders, are expected seize this opportunity and to put in place the necessary measures and programmes to enhance economic development and job creation, social protection - from enhancing safety to gender equality - as well as addressing the issue of climate change through implementation of low-carbon initiatives.

In order to accelerate such movements it is essential to understand what is happening where, and who is driving the current efforts. The SDG COVID Impact Platform's Heatmaps give us a global view on how an issue like "public transportation" is currently covered across the globe. A quick deep dive into some of the "hotspots" presented on the Heatmap allows us to uncover the current hurdles and successes of public transportation, providing key insights on what is needed to steer effectively and swiftly towards sustainable cities.


Some of this week's key updates on public transportation across the globe:

  • LATAM: Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador provide tax exemptions for electric vehicles, whereas Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay waive import tariffs for the same in a move to boost the entire electric vehicle value chain on the continent. (here)
  • Scotland: Inverness councillor urges experimental pedestrianisation of city centre street to keep buses away from city centre. (here)
  • Australia: Research from The University of Western Australia has found the COVID-19 environment, which has created a less mobile and more digitally focused workforce, has changed people’s travel behaviour and may impact their use of transport into the future. (here)
  • Iran: Inadequate public transport infrastructure in Tehran Province has reduced the effectiveness of facemask wearing and contributed to soaring coronavirus infections, the province’s governor general warned. To curb the use of public transport, the province’s Covid-19 taskforce asked city officials to allow the entry of personal cars into the capital’s restricted traffic zone, but the request has fallen on deaf ears. (here)

Previous articles in the TSC Thursdays series


Navigate the SDG COVID Impact Dashboard for a snapshot of SDG and thematic insights, or request a demo.


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