20th December 2010 Jeremy Smith
From 16th to 21st November 2010, Mexico City hosted a huge gathering of city mayors and leaders from across the globe, for the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. Organised by United Cities and Local Governments, the Summit discussed the big crises and challenges facing cities and communities, looked ahead to the City of 2030, and debated ideas for a greater input by local governments into global governance – on issues as diverse as climate change, Millennium Development Goals, and “city diplomacy”. I was there to help UCLG – which I had helped set up 7 years ago – develop the themes and concepts for the Summit programme together, and to draft the final outcome documents.
UCLG works in English, French and Spanish, so with around 200 amendments coming in at the last moment, we had an exciting evening putting it all together while the delegates enjoyed the city centre fireworks to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1910 revolution.
The City of 2030 is a short “manifesto”, or description of the kind of urban place we would all like to create – and which mayors and local councillors can use their powers to work towards. Ai’s creative director, Maz Kessler, created the design for the Manifesto in the three language versions.
The following day, 21st November, a linked special session on climate change took place, an issue close to the heart of the Mayor of Mexico City, Eduard Ebrard, who pointed out that his city lies in a dip, and its heart was built on an old pre-Hispanic lake, so more frequent extreme weather events make it vulnerable to flooding as well as drought. This session agreed the local government input to the Cancun international COP conference, which took place a few days later, and achieved more success than the previous year’s in Copenhagen.
We were delighted to be able to listen to Carlos Fuentes, in the closing session of the congress, give a wonderful discourse around Mexican history and the quest for liberty… and I was happy to have time to see several of Diego Rivera’s amazing huge murals.
UCLG members also chose their new Presidency – the Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas, takes over as President from Bertrand Delanöe, Mayor of Paris, who had served for the 6 years since UCLG went live in 2004. He is backed up by his Co-Presidents, Mayors Antonio Costa, of Lisbon, Portugal; Johnny Araya of San Jose de Costa Rica; Wan Qingliang of Guangzhou, China; Muchadeyi Masunda of Harare, Zimbabwe, and Ilsur Metsin of Kazan, Russian Federation.