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


15.00-16.00 CET 

The rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has prompted a collective, global response to the resulting COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM), took up the cause of pandemic preparedness and prioritized it as a key component of urban health planning and committed to developing an intra-city mechanism to share information and experiences during an emergency response. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, mayors from the GPM will share their experiences in responding to the public health crisis and discuss their vision for an improved post-COVID city and urban agenda. By rethinking the city, after the pandemic, how will priorities change and how long will public health remain prioritised?

Global Panel

  • Mayor Peter Kurz of Mannheim, Germany, GPM Chair
  • Mayor Leoluca Orlando of Palermo, Italy, member of the GPM Executive Committee, host of the GPM Annual Summit 2021
  • Mayor Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills, USA, GPM member
  • Mayor Óscar Escobar of Palmira, Colombia
  • Prof. Rebecca Katz Director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Department for Social Determinants of Health

Contribution from

  • Mayor Peter Kurz of Mannheim, Germany, GPM Chair
  • Deputy Mayor Annekatrin Klepsch of Dresden, Germany
  • Lord Mayor Graig Simmons of Oxford, UK
  • Mayor Landing B. Sanneh of Somo Town, the Gambia, President GALGA, GPM member
  • Deputy Mayor Jakub Mazur of Wroclaw, Poland, GPM Member
  • Mayor Paul Depla of Breda, The Netherlands

16.00-17.00 CET
The COVID-19 pandemic is generating far-reaching changes in how cities operate. Some cities are re-imagining city living, urged on by citizens who do not want a return to the “old normal”. Around the world, city leaders are debating how best to recover and rebuild more sustainably than before. At a time of falling revenue and tax shortfalls, they are expected to do more with less. The panel on urban sustainability will explore how some cities are building back greener, more inclusive and resilient cities. It will examine how ideas such as circular, sharing and doughnut economics are being applied in practice and explore how some cities are repurposing the built space, rethinking food production, revisiting their energy matrix, and investing in micro-mobility solutions. The seminar will also explore how some of these innovations are being financed. 

Global Panel

  • Mayor Grace Mary Mugasa of Hoima, Uganda, GPM 2nd Vice Chair
  • Mayor Manuel de Aurajo of Quelimane, Mozambique 
  • Mayor Mohamed Sadiki, Rabat, Morocco, GPM Member
  • Dr. Robert Muggah, CEO Igarape Institute Brazil and Co-Chair GPM Advisory Committee
  • David Miller, Director International Diplomacy, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Former Mayor of Toronto

Contribution from

  • Mayor Emil Boc, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Mayor Landing B. Sanneh of Somo Town, the Gambia, President GALGA, GPM member
  • Deputy Mayor Cllr Craig Cheney of Bristol, UK
  • Deputy Mayor Jakub Mazur of Wroclaw, Poland
  • Eveline Jonkhoff, City Council of Amsterdam, Sustainability and Circular Economy Advisor

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