21 October, 2021 – This year, the Global Parliament of Mayors awarded the prestigious Dr. Benjamin Barber Global Cities Award to Mayor Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, USA, and Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The award ceremony was part of the opening of the GPM Annual Summit 2021 hosted by Mayor Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo, Italy. The award recognizes mayors for their outstanding contribution to further global urban governance and inspiring city leadership.

Mayor Bowser was honoured because of her tremendous efforts to make the City of Washington, DC, more inclusive, safer, stronger, and healthier, her exceptional leadership with a strong conviction on the international role of cities and her contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement, and global governance as a whole that have contributed greatly to the growing role of cities in world politics.

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was awarded for her commitment to transform the City of Freetown, using an inclusive approach, underpinned by innovation, community ownership and data-driven performance management. Her contribution to climate migration, gender equality and global governance have greatly contributed to the growing role of cities, specifically from the Global South, in world politics.

The Global Parliament of Mayors created the award to honour outstanding actions or research on urban governance and contributions to advancing the roles and principles set out by the GPM. The award is named in memory of the founder of GPM, Dr. Benjamin Barber, author of the book ‘If Mayors Ruled the World’ (2014), who continues to inspire Mayors from around the world.

The GPM Annual Summit gathers mayors from all over the world, strengthening the voice of cities and elevating city leadership. During the opening reception of the Annual Summit, host GPM Mayor Orlando announced that the city of Palermo will commemorate the late Dr. Benjamin Barber by dedicating a marble plaque to him in Palazzo Comitini, a Baroque palace located in the central Via Maqueda which is the official seat of the Metropolitan City of Palermo. The plaque reads “With admiration and gratitude for the work on the interdependence of peoples, and the role of local governments”.