Local Week on Global Dashboard

by , | Apr 20, 2020

This article is part of our Local Week series, a collection of articles focusing on the challenges facing communities as they confront the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find the other articles in the series on our Local Week page.

It’s Local Week on Global Dashboard. We’re dedicating our content to the challenges of communities as they confront the health, economic, and social fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In World Politics Review, we called for local communities to be given a stronger role in the response. 

Never in recent history have governments placed so much collective energy into telling people what not to do: meeting or moving, touching faces or each other, buying too much food or too little. But bossiness alone will not be enough to sustain the public resolve necessary for an effective response. People are desperate to help. 

Communities have a practical role to play. They’re best placed to understand local needs and rally to respond to them – even more so at a time when central government is struggling to keep up. But there’s a political imperative as well. Societies must shore up the foundations of collective action that appear to be eroding fast:

To go back to the metaphor of shooting the rapids, we are most likely to survive the COVID-19 crisis if we empower everyone to row, rather than centralizing decision-making, scaling up surveillance and increasing coercion.

Over the next seven days, we’re enlisting the help of prominent thinkers on health, food, local government, community empowerment, and urban planning to examine the global crisis through the lens of the local. 

How is the way we interact changing? How do meet the need for healthcare and food in people’s homes and neighbourhoods? How can we establish patterns now that will help us rebuild in the future? What can we learn from the largest accidental social experiment in history, and how will it shape our towns and cities? 

This series supports the UK’s Local Trust as it galvanises new thinking about how to “put more power, resources and decision-making into the hands of local communities to enable them to transform and improve their lives and the places they live.”

This week’s articles will therefore be tailored to Europe and North America, though they will have broader resonance. But we are already planning a second series – the Local Goes Global – which will gather local perspectives from around the world. Please get in touch if you’d like to contribute.

Follow all of our Local Week articles, keep an eye on the Global Dashboard homepage, and follow us on Twitter for updates.


  • David Steven is a senior fellow at the UN Foundation and at New York University, where he founded the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a multi-stakeholder partnership to deliver the SDG targets for preventing all forms of violence, strengthening governance, and promoting justice and inclusion. He was lead author for the ministerial Task Force on Justice for All and senior external adviser for the UN-World Bank flagship study on prevention, Pathways for Peace. He is a former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of The Risk Pivot: Great Powers, International Security, and the Energy Revolution (Brookings Institution Press, 2014). In 2001, he helped develop and launch the UK’s network of climate diplomats. David lives in and works from Pisa, Italy.

  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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