Coronavirus responses can promote Cities for All: new research by IURD

Coronavirus responses can promote Cities for All: new research by IURD


COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to rebuild our cities and adopt new policies to ensure they are more inclusive for persons with disabilities, according to IURD Director Jason Corburn and leader of the Inclusive Cities Lab Dr. Victor Pineda, in a new article they co-authored in the Journal of Urban Health, entitled “Disability, Urban Health Equity, and the Coronavirus Pandemic: Promoting Cities for All.”


“The pandemic highlights existing inequities but is also galvanizing leaders and activists to generate new, more inclusive cities for all,” says Dr. Pineda, also a lecturer at UC Berkeley, President of World Enabled and leader of the Global Compact on Cities for All.


According to the World Health Organization and the World Bank, there are more than 1 billion people living with a disability, and by 2050, 940 million people living in cities may be living with a disability.  Persons with disabilities are four times as likely to be adversely impacted during an emergency such as the novel coronavirus pandemic, potentially creating and exacerbating urban inequalities.


“Our cities, not people, are disabled, “ says Corburn.  Poor urban planning, lack of inclusive policies and failures to implement universal design makes persons living with disabilities more susceptible when an infection spreads. “Their caregiving places and helpers may be disrupted, job and employment loss may occur, accessing food and other services can become that much harder,” says Professor Corburn.


The article includes specific recommendations including: (1) making all information and communications accessible to all. (2) Ensuring persons with disabilities (PWD) and disabled persons organizations (DPOs) are at the center of program and policy decisions and implementation. (3) ensuring that all persons with disabilities have continued access to essential services, including healthcare and personal assistants. (4) immediate economic supports to PWDs to ensure they do not fall into poverty and mitigate any job losses and/or movement restrictions. (5) more strict enforcement of anti-discrimination and labor protections for PWDs.


Dr. Pineda has organized and is leading a weekly webinar with participants from around the world, focused on generating immediate and long-term solutions to the pandemic and more inclusive cities, called “Equity and Access in the Time of Pandemic.” 


“My work through IURD and World Enabled is aiming to ensure that cities, decision-makers and researchers listen to people on the ground, and collectively generate new  strategies that can work,” says Dr. Pineda.  “We need a manifesto and global action for greater urban inclusion now and moving forward.”  


For more information: Dr. Victor Pineda,


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