Skip to content

Innovation in the face of crisis

Insights from European cities innovating to create solutions to their most complex challenges.

Highlighting rapid and creative reactions to the pandemic

These are challenging times, and cities are on the frontline of the COVID-19 response. Our report, Innovation in the face of crisis, shares insights from European cities' rapid and creative reactions to the pandemic.

Inclusiveness, cooperation and public participation

In places such as Paris, Barcelona and Tallinn, local governments are making successful experiments, based on inclusiveness, cooperation, and public participation.

Inspired by these ideas, other city governments can create similar initiatives, adapted to their own urban context and meeting the needs of all citizens. They have a unique opportunity to reshape their cities, as they deal with the present crisis and an uncertain future.

European cities leading the charge

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted society in Europe in countless ways. European cities are working hard to rally resources and unify experts from across sectors and governments to find innovative solutions to critical problems.

'Innovation in the face of crisis: Insights from European cities' report cover

To support global idea-sharing, the Centre for Public Impact (CPI) – in collaboration with GovInsider and the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) – received over 400 submissions to the Call for Innovative Government Responses. In addition, we have begun to tell the stories of local, regional and national administrations who are applying the principles of our Vision for better government

Download the report

Drawing from both of these, we have highlighted initiatives led by European cities to be featured, learned from and most importantly, not to be forgotten.

Communication and inclusion

The city of Paris strongly advocates for residents and communicates clearly with them, listening carefully to the needs of marginalised communities

Public participation and dialogue

The city of Barcelona has promoted a two-way dialogue with residents, enabling the city to provide targeted support and receive feedback on critical community issues.

Cooperation and collaboration

Cities across eastern and northern Europe have run collaborative initiatives to find cutting-edge solutions to urgent and important community issues – fostering collaboration with startups, charities and changemakers.

Rebuilding local economies

From our analysis, we have identified the following five takeaways for cities to embrace in the months to come as we deal with COVID-19 response and recovery, and ultimately seek to rebuild local economies:

Be citizen-centred

citizens are your most important stakeholders. Design your pandemic response, policy and initiatives by engaging directly with them and seeking their feedback.

Adopt an innovation culture

Innovation – and the capacity to adapt – is what helped cities support their residents during COVID-19. Cities must dare to try, not be bound by a crippling fear of failure. 

icon: three people

Be visible and inclusive

By taking into account different cultures, languages, religions, accessibility requirements and more, you can lead and challenge your team to create a positive impact for all your fellow-citizens.

Be collaborative

Collaboration enables you to work towards a common goal and join forces in identifying and implementing solutions to the pandemic – both within government services and across the city’s stakeholders.

Rebuild a more sustainable city

This unprecedented situation offers cities the chance to think about a new vision for the future – promote local engagement and job creation and lay the foundations for economic growth, together with social, cultural and political stability.

Ongoing work

Unleashing city innovation across Eastern Europe and Central Asia

The Centre for Public Impact is working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Urban Imaginaries, a new initiative supporting cities to develop solutions to their most pressing urban challenges.

Learn more

Let's talk

Are you currently leading a project to reimagine the future of your city? Interested in trying, but not sure where to begin? We want to hear from you! 

Get in touch