Complex emergencies such as COVID-19 and climate change are re-shaping democratic institutions and processes. How can local and regional governments guarantee inclusive participation and representation in emergency decision-making to shape just and co-cre


Recently, United Cities and Local Governments, Metropolis and LSE Cities launched the 6th Policy Brief of their joint Emergency Governance Initiative, dedicated to democracy and representation gaps in contexts of emergency, and the role of local and regional governments in safeguarding democracy in the midst of crises.

Following publications on local finances, multilevel governance and public services during “complex emergencies“, this new Policy Brief is dedicated to one of the most important aspects of emergency governance: the legitimacy of emergency responses and the extent to which this legitimacy must be rooted in democratic practices. This issue ties in closely with the role of local and regional governments in strengthening democracy from the bottom-up, as well as advancing the broader principles of subsidiarity and inclusivity.

After examining the tensions and synergies between democracy and radical, rapid intervention, the Policy Brief reviews key local democratic practices and innovations that have emerged over recent years as part of the broader response to complex emergencies: with a focus on rights and good governance, representation, deliberation and participation, including insights on digital era governance. Proposing the notion of “emergency assembly”, the Brief examines a common form of a deliberative exercise, the citizens’ assemblies, and how they have and can be applied in the context of complex emergencies. 

Finally, the Brief builds on the feminist theoretical analyses and practical reivindications, in particular around care. It shows that they can lead the way to inform not only conceptual frameworks but concrete democratic practices. In particular, it highlights the role of feminist leadership and governance by empathy to strengthen local caring democracies based on the equitable representation of all and inclusive decision-making processes.

Renewing institutional governance processes and concrete practices, from a true commitment with democracy, will be at the centre of many of our discussions at the up-coming UCLG World Congress, and is already a pillar of its Pact for the Future. Do not miss the key findings and proposals of this Policy Brief for reinvigorating local democracy!