Over 60 mayors from cities across the world met in The Hague over the weekend (10-11 September) to convene the Global Parliament of Mayors–the brainchild of Dr Benjamin Barber.
The new parliament derives from the ideas Barber introduced in his book, If mayors ruled the world. Barber asserts that cities, and the mayors that run them, offer the best new forces of good governance.
“The UN tried to cure nationalism through cooperation of nation states,” he said at the opening. “The EU tried to cure nationalism by erasing nation states. Sixty years later, both of these are in trouble.”
“Is this [the parliament] one more limp banner of aspirational futility?” he asked. “There is a key difference in this new governance experiment than those gone before–we speak here as mayors and as citizens. We represent not anonymous voters, but engaged residents of local communities.”
Mayors from Cape Town, Oklahoma City, Amman, Athens, Rotterdam and others agreed on ‘The Hague Global Mayors Call to Action’, stating that the parliament will allow cities and their mayors to cooperate on critical issues such as climate change, refugees, pandemic disease, inequality and urban security, problems that other institutions have not always been able to address.
Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the US Conference of Mayors enthused: “The Global Parliament of Mayors will finally create the needed place for mayors of the world to learn, share and make significant progress on the global metro-urban challenges we are facing. The formation of this new organisation marks an historic moment as no other international coalition for mayors, and run by mayors, exists.”
On climate change, mayors stressed the importance of the upcoming Habitat III in Quito and that the new parliament can and should be represented there, in order to put forward practical and effective policies.
On migration and refugees, mayors exchanged best practices and underlined the importance of close cooperation between cities of departure and cities of arrival.
To help mayors connect, a new virtual parliament, www.mayors-app.com/welcome, was announced to allow each member city to survey, discuss and ultimately vote on action points. Seven cities will now form a committee to prepare the next steps and the draft principles and actions that were discussed during the two-day convening including migration, climate change and governance.