Transnational Experiences of COVID-19: Transferrable Lessons for Urban Planning between the Global South and Global North

Shauna Brail, Michael Martin, Jagath Munasinghe, Rangajeewa Ratnayake, Julie Rudner

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This chapter progresses an international conversation held in June 2020 that sought to explore the future of urban planning in the wake of COVID-19. The discussion identified transferrable lessons that are beginning to emerge transnationally that planners may consider in an effort to address the inequalities and inadequacies highlighted by the pandemic. Here, we unpack the mutual and unique experiences of the pandemic and the subsequent unlockdown in four distinct territories – Australia, Canada, Denmark and Sri Lanka – in an effort to draw out transferrable lessons for planning practice. By reflecting on examples from the cities of Aalborg, Colombo, Melbourne and Toronto we highlight how extreme events such as pandemics require resilient, multi-scalar urban solutions. Here, we see how national, regional and local authorities attempted to alleviate unevenly distributed challenges, with varying degrees of success. In this chapter, we develop collective, transferrable lessons drawn from each city-region on resilient planning practice to further mutual learning on pandemic and post-pandemic urban planning internationally. In response to urban inequalities highlighted by the pandemic, we suggest that planning must reengage with localism to address global events. Furthermore, we stress the need to acknowledge the political nature of planning in order to grasp opportunities for change as part of a long-term programme of incrementalism rather than a return to ‘business as usual’ approaches. In doing so, planners should work with communities in an effort to educate and advocate for the continued revitalisation of public spaces and services and the broader promotion of sustainable modes of mobility. Through evidenced-based decision-making and the use of emerging/repurposed technologies, post-pandemic planning, as a key public service, has the opportunity to engender community trust in institutional leadership, and the betterment of the lives of citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Reflections on COVID-19 and Urban inequalities
EditorsPierre Filion, Brian Doucet, Rianne van Melik
Number of pages13
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherPolicy Press
Publication dateJul 2021
ISBN (Print)978-1529219043
ISBN (Electronic)978-1529219050
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Inequality
  • Localism
  • incrementalism
  • Trust
  • Leadership
  • Transnational experiences
  • International Planning
  • Planning practice
  • Extreme events
  • Pandemics
  • COVID-19


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