Post COVID-19 Reconstruction

The future is not the past. While many tools and people from the pre-COVID-19 days will engage in the post COVID-19 reconstruction, we all need to be conscious that we are building a new world.

Some thoughts as we ponder:

  • Do we reinstate environmentally damaging practices? For what purpose? Is there a thoughtful and agreed trade-off happening, or is militarized power insisting?
  • Will the impact on women, children, LGBTQI+, people of colour, Disabled and Migrant / Asylum communities be taken into consideration in the “reinstated practices”? Or will the assumption of channeling resources to the white male head of households in developed countries remain the norm?
  • Applying the principle of Common but Different Responsibilities (CBDR) must include non-market approaches.

While it is tempting to “search for a methodology” that we can apply to meet the obvious need of all countries to re-construct themselves, now is the time to reach beyond the emotional satisfaction of a neat methodology to the impact.

Disaster recovery practices, while helpful, are generally applied in a limited geographical area which is able to trade with areas not affected by the disaster. This situation is a bit trickier.

The frameworks available include:

  1. the Sustainable Development Goals
  2. Doughnut Economics and the monitoring available through Leeds University.

It appears that data will be central to any decisions being made, with decision-makers able to pivot away from practices and spending that isn’t achieving outcomes immediately. Data quality needs to be taken into consideration. Some questions to think about as you review the datasets available:

  • For what purpose was this data collected?
  • How complete is it?
  • What shortcuts were made in collecting it?
  • How reliable is it?

Statistics Bureau will be central to all decisions and it behooves decision-makers to listen carefully to their advice. When you are making decisions without good data, at least be aware of that! Separately consider decisions based on good data, clear criteria and agreed outcomes with those made using only political judgement. And evaluate frequently so you can pivot where necessary. Perverse outcomes are the bread and butter of government so plan for them.

Meaningful post COVID-19 reconstruction will look something like this:

1. General agreement of the overall outcome sought. The vision of the country in the future will be clearly stated.

2. The facts of “what’s so” now will be agreed. Actual economic activity, numbers of workers in paid employment, amounts being spent by governments in stimulating the economy and where. Track the environment, human capital, cultural activities and resources as well as economic activity.

3. Identify who is partnering in the reconstruction. Include civil society (NGOs that speak for the experience of women, children, LGBTQI+, people of colour, Disabled and Migrant / Asylum communities and advocate for the environment) as well as public and private sector entities.

4. Monitor who is benefiting from your actions. “Leave no one behind” needs planning. Identify the communities your serve and check that intended stimulii are flowing through as intended.

5. Communicate your intended outcomes, the processes you are following, the data you are using and the gaps you know about. Establish a means of two-way communication. Social media sites are universally used and can be readily adapted.

6. Stay sane and strong within yourself. Take time out to reflect, to stare at the wall and to sleep deeply.

Australian SDG Summit – 13 March 2018

Kerry McGovern will be attending the Australian SDG Summit in Melbourne on 13 March.

Australian Sustainable Development Goals Summit 2018


Australia has made a slow start to implementing the Global Goals it signed up to in 2015. In July this year, the Australian Government will deliver its initial report to the High Level Political Forum at the United Nations:
The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be the following, including Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, that will be considered each year:

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

K McGovern & Associates’s Kerry McGovern contributed to the drafting of the New Urban Agenda on behalf of EAROPH. This underpins Goal 11: Sustainable Cities.

The biggest challenge facing Australia (and we are facing many intriguing challenges) is to drastically reduce our consumption of physical goods while strengthing our economy so we can achieve Goal 12.

But all goals are to be achieved in an integrated manner. We can’t ensure affordable energy while destroying the water that sustains fish stocks and tourist income while destorying forest cover. Getting the balance right across all levels of government, the private sector, civil society and the household sector is our aim. Want to help?

New Urban Agenda

The NUAConference was held in Melbourne on 4th and 5th May. Kerry McGovern and Penny Burns copresented a session to get us all focused on how we are going to implement the New Urban Agenda in Australia.

The conference was refreshing with good discussion about a topic new to most of those attending. Architects, planners, economics, social housing workers, planning bureaucrats, local government representatives, clients, accountants, engineers, members of parliament and others worked together to grasp what implementing the NUA in Australia will require. It will be implemented as part of working to achieve the sustainable development goals.

See: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2016/10/newurbanagenda/

New Website

This website was hacked with a weird message and visuals appearing. In fixing it, we’ve had to delete a lot of the extras on the website, including the ability for it to adapt to mobile phones.

Since then we’ve been working, slowly, to build a new website.

We are still working on it. So stay tuned!

New Urban Agenda – ready for Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador

The consultations are now complete and the New Urban Agenda draft outcome document for adoption in Quito, October 2016 has been agreed. See: habitat-iii-new-urban-agenda-10-september-2016

Anna Moreno, the Habitat III Secretariat Coordinator stated that: “This document has been the result of a collaborative and inclusive effort since the release of the Zero Draft, continuously involving not only the UN Member States, but also local and sub-national governments, civil society, independent experts, and the UN system, to ensure that an inclusive range of voices and views would be heard in the New Urban Agenda.”

The Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH) was a contributor to the document. Kerry McGovern represented EAROPH at the Huariou Commission’s expert working group on engendering the New Urban Agenda. She then attended the General Assembly of Partners (GAP) meeting where EAROPH took responsibility for coordinating feedback from GAP members on Issues Paper 7 Municipal Finance and Issues Paper 12 Local Economic Development. The draft outcome document is the result of a huge collaboration of nation states, local and sub-national governments, civil society, independent experts and the UN.

K McGovern & Associates is proud of its contribution to the New Urban Agenda and values the partnerships generated during its preparation. 

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Kerry McGovern, Public Sector Governance, Asset and Financial Management Specialist with Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat and Prof. Emma Porio at Ataneo de Manila University.

What can woman bring to Habitat III?

Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development, to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October, 2016. EAROPH has been asked to provide input to the Expert Group Meeting on Women and the New Urban Agenda. UN Habitat is seeking women’s perspective on urbanization. Women hold up half the sky and build communities in which our families can prosper. The challenge of accommodating the huge movements of peoples, from climate change affected areas and from war-torn areas, is leading to quick responses.

In our haste are we sacrificing our communities and all they bring to us? Internally displaced peoples have children who require education. Refugees need to build solid futures for their families. Rural people move to cities to take advantage of infrastructure and services and to get jobs. But none of us want to arrive at our destination as isolated individuals.

Firstly, we all are part of a family, however fragmented, however dispersed across the Earth. And our contact with our families feeds our soul.

Secondly, we are part of a local community. Locally we grow food, engage with the earth and each other, sharing the produce of our labours and our talents. We nod greetings at each other. We eat and dance together. We cry and laugh together. These community activities build skillful people, resilient people.

Thirdly, we are part of a nation or a state from which we get our identity. For some the history of our family creates a tribal identity. For others, whose family melded down the generations, we bring our dreams for the future. It is in sharing those dreams and those stories, that we express our humanity. It is in listening to others’ stories that we demonstrate our wisdom and our generosity.

Lastly, we are humans among an infinite number of lifeforms on Earth. We co-habit within the natural world. From nature comes all our knowledge, the air we breathe, the water we drink and wash in, and the food we eat. And to nature we provide waste that it recycles.

Bringing all this together in providing housing and sustainable urban settlements so that not only the cities are resilient into the future, but our Earth is enriched by human input is the challenge of Habitat III.

EAROPH is providing input to the Huairou Commission’s expert group meeting on Women and the New Urban Agenda on 29-30 September 2015.