As Mayor, I want to make Palermo a place of opportunity for all communities. By joining the Champion Mayors initiative, I hope to learn about approaches taken by other cities to the challenges we all face and, by sharing our experiences, we can all learn together, and provide a better quality of life for all the residents of our cities.”
– Mayor Leoluca Orlando
Born and raised in Palermo, Leoluca Orlando started his fifth term as Mayor of Palermo in 2017, having previously held office from 1985 – 1990, 1993 – 2000, and 2012 – 2017. Prior to commencing his political career, he was legal advisor to the President of the Region of Sicily, tenured professor of regional public law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Palermo, and studied and lived for some years in Heidelberg, Germany.
Believing that people have the right to move in search of a better life, Mayor Orlando is welcoming migrants to the City of Palermo. All migrants in Palermo are considered Palermitani (citizens of Palermo) and can access education, medical care and have the right to work after two months residence in the city. Migrant participation in Palermo’s politics is encouraged through the Council of Cultures, an advisory body proposed by Mayor Orlando and established by the City of Palermo. The council consists of 21 migrants from different geographical regions, elected by and representing city residents. Palermo also provides young, unaccompanied migrants with tutors that have been provided with training, legal counselling, and the ability to help migrants in their interactions with the authorities. While the mayor is not able to grant permanent residence in Italy, to enhance their feeling of belonging, migrants are invited to honorary citizenship ceremonies. Mayor Orlando also makes small but important gestures of welcome such as officially participating in all religious celebrations of the city’s communities, wearing the tricolour band symbolising his representation of the state to enhance the feeling for event participants of being part of Palermo’s community.
Positioned between disadvantaged neighbourhoods but offering a safe space for children to learn through fun educational activities, the City of Children is an outdoor facility and play area in Palermo where social and educational animation programs are offered to low-income children aged 3-13 years. Animators run creativity-promoting activity programs often focusing on crafts such as woodwork, pottery, painting and sculpture.
Several recreational and educational activity programs specifically for children from disadvantaged backgrounds operate in different districts of the city. Programs such as seminars on entrepreneurship and workshops and training courses are also offered to help young adults into employment.
Palermo’s Regional Plan for Children and Adolescents promotes engagement with socially disadvantaged young residents. The plan aims to encourage children to grow up to play a meaningful role in the community through interventions such as identifying the needs of the under 18 age group, services supporting the correct participation in social, administrative and political life, intercultural exchanges, the provision of healthcare information, social activities to promote community integration, and protection for at-risk individuals.
Following many years in office, Mayor Orlando continues to promote integrity through the City of Palermo’s Transparency and Integrity Program, which aims to prevent corruption. The plan is a rolling three-year plan that is updated each year. It ensures the transparency of municipal activities through the provision to Palermo residents of information and documents such as the Transparency and Integrity Program outline, prevention of corruption plans, code of conduct for employees of the Municipality of Palermo, risk self-assessments and measurement plans.