Rethinking the city: how mayors respond to the needs of a post-COVID city


Programme 19 November

15.00-16.00 CET

The pandemic is a combination of four crises: A health, an economic, a psychological and a cultural crisis. The latter two are less explored. The pandemic has focused us all on what really matters and the need to rethink, to reassess and to re-evaluate. The need for transformation has become apparent and crucially any transformation project is cultural and educational as it is about values, mindset and attitudes and hearts, minds and skills, our education system, even though many try to highlight technology or the economy as the main drivers. How we decide to govern or to conduct our business or the priorities we set is based on cultural choices – is trust or decency our guiding principle or simply profit maximizing? Or is technology controlling us or are we controlling technology? The cultural project then is to create more stable, local identities linked to an ambition and vision of where our place, our city wants to go that is both at ease with itself and at ease with the Other. This is why culture is the 4th pillar of sustainable development with equal status to environmental, economic and social sustainability. In this discussion we will explore whether Mayors agree that culture is the 4th pillar of sustainability. Central to that overall discussion is education – it affects what we learn,  how we learn and how the education system as a whole operates.

Global Panel

  • Mayor Ricardo Rio of Braga, Portugal, Treusurer of the GPM Executive Committee.
  • Mayor Leoluca Orlando of Palermo, Italy, member of the GPM Executive Committee, host of the GPM Annual Summit 2021.
  • Mayor Tunç Soyer of Izmir, Turkey
  • Professor Pier Luigi Sacco of Cultural Economics, IULM University Milan; Senior Researcher, metaLAB (at) Harvard, and visiting scholar at Harvard University.
  • Charles Landry: author, speaker and international adviser on the future of cities best known for popularising the Creative City concept. Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin and member of the GPM Advisory Committee
  • Dr. Ege Yildirim, Heritage Planner, Istanbul; Focal Point for the SDGs (2016-20) of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

16.00-17.30 CET
Cities have long been at the front lines of global challenges—addressing everything from poverty to climate change—but they have been left out of the decision-making process at both the national and international levels. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the weakness of this system and demonstrated the importance of the active participation of cities and local governments in shaping global policy. How can mayors around the world help the United Nations move forward with the UN75 initiative to make real change? How can the UN better meet its goals by including mayors from the beginning in the decision-making process?

Round Table

  • Mayor Peter Kurz of Mannheim, Germany, GPM Chair
  • Mayor Rohey M. Lowe of Banjul, the Gambia, member of the GPM Executive Committee, President of African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum (ACCSF)
  • Mayor Kaunda Mxolisi, eThekwini/Durban, South Africa, GPM member and Chair of the African Forum on Urban Safety (AFUS)
  • Mayor Ricardo Rio, Braga, Portugal, GPM Daily Board member and EUROCITIES Executive Committee member
  • Professor Eric Corijn Free University Brussels, Belgium, Cosmopolis, Centre for Urban Research, GPM Advisory Committee member
  • Kobie Brand, Deputy Secretary General ICLEI and Executive Director: ICLEI Africa
  • Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director for ICLEI Europe
  • Juma Assiago, Specialist Safer Cities, HR&SIU/Urban Practices Branch, UN Habitat
  • Aziza Akhmouch, OECD Head of Division Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development Centre for Entrepreneurship
  • Ian Klaus, Senior Fellow Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Dr. Rachel Locke, Director, Impact: Peace, University of San Diego and co-facilitator of Peace in Our Cities Initiative
  • Thomas George, Senior Adviser and Chief of Urban UNICEF