Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

City limits: introducing the Global Parliament of Mayors

City limits: introducing the Global Parliament of Mayors The Global Parliament of Mayors
05 Nov
2016
City leaders from around the world gathered recently for the Global Parliament of Mayors. Could cities be set to overtake national governments as key decision makers?

What would happen if mayors ruled the world? We had our first glimpse last month, when mayors from over 60 cities around the world convened in The Hague, Netherlands, for the inaugural Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM), to discuss how our urban hubs can work together to solve the world’s challenges.

If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities, the inspiration for the GPM, is a 2013 book by political theorist Benjamin Barber. He argues that the days of nation-states being able to significantly influence the world are numbered, and that networks between cities have taken over as the most effective way to create effective global change. ‘After a long history of regional success, the nation-state is failing us on the global scale,’ he writes. ‘The city, always the human habitat of first resort, has in today’s globalising world once again become democracy’s best hope.’

There are well-intentioned moves towards networks of cities trying to address major social problems. This is partly driven by dissatisfaction with national government, but it also reflects the growing economic power of cities

After a weekend of debate, chaired by Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor of The Hague, delegates agreed upon ‘The Hague Global Mayors Call to Action’, establishing the GPM as an annual fixture in the calendar. ‘It’s one thing to have interesting ideas that engage people,’ says Barber, ‘but it’s quite another to move from an idea to the actual institutionalisation of a new global governance body.’ The mayors discussed how cities can respond to global challenges – such as climate change and the refugee crisis – emphasising these issues will by far have most impact on cities. ‘What happened in the The Hague was not that cities found solutions to these questions,’ explains Barber, ‘but that they acknowledged it’s their responsibility to look for solutions that can be enforced by cities working together.’

‘There are well-intentioned moves towards networks of cities trying to address major social problems,’ observes Neil Lee, Assistant Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics. ‘This is partly driven by dissatisfaction with national government, but it also reflects the growing economic power of cities. The aim is to share best practice in areas of importance, but also to move forward the policy agendas urban policymakers think are important. Given that there has been a global trend towards devolution of powers to sub-national government, some of these agendas might be quite significant in the future.’

This was published in the November 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Cities

A team of researchers in Australia are urging urban planners…

Water

An artificial intelligence tool can predict where conflicts related to…

Water

Hundreds of historic landfill sites are at risk from erosion…

Cities

London has officially become the first of a new kind…

Mountains

A new model of the monsoon system, which dispenses with the Himalaya Mountains,…

Places

In the second of his features on the world’s geopolitical…

Water

The discovery a long ‘tongue’ of ice beneath a glacial…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig explains two cartograms which demonstrate the global water…

Places

Get on your bike with this collection of stories to…

Water

The Brown Bank a haven for marine life in the…

Forests

The first payment under the Redd+ scheme to conserve tropical…

Places

In the first of a series on geopolitical curiosities and…

Cities

A socioecological model is predicting the areas of major US…

Mapping

Following the collapse of the upstream tailings dam in Brumadinho,…

Mapping

The domestication of animals for food, secondary products, labour and…

Cities

Strap in for a newer, greener experience in virtual city…

Water

A major investment in data collection along the Nile could…

Forests

Several factors are contributing to extreme deforestation in Haiti, with…

Cities

Illegal wells are depleting groundwater basins beneath Tehran causing it…

Mapping

Mapping the trade war between the US and China and…