In the COVID 19 crisis cities are key stakeholders fighting for environmental and social sustainability. Their contribution to tackling the present crisis could serve as a blueprint for future social policies that take into consideration social justice and the green economy. In many countries, cities are the last bastion of progressive social policies. It is therefore essential that we learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid a renewed wave of austerity against municipal budgets. In this paper, concrete examples are given of the vital role local governments play in the fight against the pandemic.