27 May 2020 – GPM Chair Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, together with the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, the UN Human Settlements Programme, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, opened a two-day online conference on worldwide urban safety and security.

The webinar was organised jointly by UN-Habitat and the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM), of which the Mayor of Mannheim, Dr Kurz, has been the chair since November 2019. In the course of four high-level sessions, representatives of international organisations such as the United Nations, UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund, NGOs and mayors from around the world discussed the challenges relating to the safety and security of inhabitants in the cities and the effects of Covid-19.

In his opening speech, Mayor Kurz emphasised the prominent role occupied by city administrations and mayors in the Covid-19 pandemic situation: “Recent weeks have shown that genuine multi-level cooperation is a key factor in combating the Covid-19 crisis. For this reason, it is particularly important to stabilise local administrative bodies, which will be on the front line when it comes to coping with the medium and long-term consequences once the crisis has passed.“

Furthermore, he was adamant that the solution to many crisis-related problems will lie in multilateral cooperation, not only between countries but primarily between cities around the world. “We know,” says Dr Kurz, “that international cooperation between cities is now more important than ever, and will continue to be so in the future. In the crisis, learning from one another has proved decisive in responding to the pandemic. This will gain in significance in both the short and long term because combating the virus and the economic consequences can only be successful if it is internationally sustainable.”

In looking to the future, the Mayor chose the optimistic words: “While we see a change in the perception of cities in these times of crisis, we can be sure of one thing: cities will continue to exist; they will adapt and they will grow. But the competence and economic efficiency of the cities must be secured and expanded for the future.”

Up to Thursday evening, participants discussed the different aspects of safety and security and the various challenges being encountered in the Covid-19 crises by cities on all continents. Particular attention was paid to domestic violence and the protection of women and children worldwide.

Press Release by Mannheim on the Safer Cities for All Webinar