Plenary Session: Voice of the Mayors
Organized by: METROPOLIS, UCLG, FMDV and Cities Alliance
The session was organized around a series of questions directed towards the political representatives of METROPOLIS with regard to the past, present, and future of the major metropolises in relation to three highly-significant events for urban communities: the UN Conference for the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, in September 2015 in New York; the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, to be held in Paris in December 2015, and the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development, Habitat III, to be held in Quito in October 2016.
The questions around which the debate was structured were as follows:
- How do the major metropolises participate in the development goals post-2015?
- How can and should the major metropolises tackle climate change?
- What is the role of the major metropolises in the worldwide commitment to sustainable urban development?
Divided into three modules, each Mayor (or equivalent) tackled one of the questions on the basis of their personal experience leading their city, in order to highlight their own personal voice and leadership. The session allowed the main political representatives to set out what had motivated them to get involved in the administration of their city, the progress made so far, and their vision for the urban future. This format served to establish the position of the political leaders in the face of the aforementioned upcoming events with worldwide significance, which will have a considerable impact on how urban development, urbanization, and the life of citizens in the 21st century is viewed.
The first module was moderated by Jean-François Habeau, Executive Director of the Global Fund for Cities Development (FMDV), and his central theme was the development goals post-2015. Mpho Parks Tau, Mayor of Johannesburg; Bianca Debaets, Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities of the Capital of the Brussels Region; Helen Fernández, Acting Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas; Felipe de Jesús Gutiérrez, Mexico D.F. Urban Development and Housing Secretary; and Mónica Fein, Municipal Mayor of Rosario, all spoke.
The second module, for which the main theme was climate change, was moderated by Alain Le Saux, Secretary-General of METROPOLIS, and Jean Paul Huchon, President of METROPOLIS and of the Île-de-France Region; Pierre Desrochers, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City of Montreal; Claudio Orrego, Governor of the Santiago Metropolitan Region; José Fortunati, Mayor of Porto Alegre, and Ana Olivera, Mayor of Montevideo, all set out their points of view on the issue.
The third and last module dealt with sustainable urban development and was co-ordinated by Josep Roig, Secretary-General of UCLG. Participating in the debate were Michael Müller, Mayor of Berlin; Yang Jiancheng, Deputy Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Guangzhou Committee; Edson Aparecido, Secretary-General of Sao Paulo State; and Daniela Chacón, Deputy Mayor of the Quito Metropolitan District.
A consensus emerged from the discussions with regard to the duty of the international community to listen to and understand the concerns of the mayors, especially those of the most populated cities in the world. These local political leaders embody the message of millions of citizens and their daily needs. Issues such as employment, housing, transport, access to education, healthcare, security, and energy are just some of a long list of basic issues.
Mayors have a high level of political responsibility, administering cities, urban conurbations, or metropolitan regions which are considerably more important than some member States of the United Nations, whether because of their population, or the international significance they possess. As such, city mayors (and their equivalents) are becoming leaders when it comes to responding to the challenges facing the planet. However, their role does not appear to be sufficiently recognized in contemporary international relations, which give almost absolute visibility to leaders acting at a national level. Launched in October 2014, the METROPOLIS project entitled ‘Voice of the Mayors’ has the aim of ensuring that the mayors of the major cities are seen and heard, and that their active work in international development is recognized. For this purpose, the written first-hand testimony of the mayors (and their equivalents) is collected, and form part of a collection of publications available in digital and printed formats.
At the end of the session, Jean-Paul Huchon announced that the METROPOLIS Declaration is to be drawn up, with the aim of representing the voice of the major cities at the Habitat III Conference.
- Jean François Habeau, Executive Director of the Global fund for cities development (FMDV)
- Alain Le Saux, METROPOLIS Secretary General
- Josep Roig, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
- Jean Paul Huchon, President of METROPOLIS and the Île-de-France Region
- Mpho Franklin Parks Tau, Mayor of Johannesburg
- Michael Müller, Mayor of Berlin
- Pierre Desrochers, Presidente of the Executive Committee, City of Montreal
- Yang Jiancheng. Chinese People's Political Consultive Conference Guangzhou Committee (CPPCC GHZ Committee)
- Claudio Orrego, Mayor of Santiago Metropolitan Region
- Bianca Debaets, Secretary of State for Equal Opportunity of the Brussels-Capital Region
- Edson Aparecido. Chief-Secretary of Civil House, State of Sao Paulo
- José Fortunati, Mayor of Porto Alegre
- Daniela Chacón, Metropolitan Deputy Mayor of Quito
- Ana Olivera, Mayor of Montevideo
- Felipe de Jesús Gutiérrez, Secretary for Urban Development and Housing, Mexico City
- Helen Fernández, Metropolitan Mayor in charge, Caracas
- Mónica Fein, Mayor of Rosario