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Champion Mayors Week and the 5th Champion Mayors Meeting

25-28 May 2021

COVID-19 has affected all cities, and the desire to “build back better” – inclusive, greener, and smarter is strong among Champion Mayors.

The 5th Meeting of the OECD Champion Mayors focused on the theme: Inclusive Growth, Recovery and Resilience in the COVID-19 era. Champion Mayors shared ideas on harnessing digitalisation and smart city strategies for more inclusive growth, using SDGs to guide long-term recovery strategies, and how to support disproportionately affected groups, such as young people during and beyond the pandemic. Champion Mayors endorsed a commitment to support and empower youth in city COVID-19 recoveries and released 5 Years of Inclusive Growth in Cities, a 5th anniversary document showcasing the evolution of inclusive growth in Champion Mayor cities.

Since 2021 is the 5th anniversary of the launch of the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth initiative, we celebrated by hosting Champion Mayors Week (25 – 28 May), a series of three virtual Mayor panel events featuring world city leaders sharing ideas and lessons learned regarding our shared mission of ensuring inclusive economic growth.


Mayor Panel, 25 May 17:00 – 18:30 CET

Cities have taken an economic hit as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Industries and businesses that make cities vibrant attractive places to live, work, and visit, have been turned on their side. At the same time, members of the workforce in cities experienced the COVID-19 economic impacts differently, some residents lost their livelihoods because their workplaces had to close, while others were able to transition to work from home. Cities are leveraging their purchasing power and creating recovery investment plans to eventually move from short term response to long term recovery, but what will it take to make sure that recovery is inclusive?

Champion Mayors speaking on this panel included:

Michael Hancock, Mayor of Denver, USA

Dagur Eggertsson, Mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland

Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria, Canada

Amaia Arregi, Deputy Mayor of Bilbao, Spain


Mayor Panel, 26 May 17:00 – 18:30 CET

COVID-19 highlighted the necessity of accessible multi-purpose and multi-functional urban spaces in cities.  Through initiatives like the rapid expansion of cycling infrastructure, the reclaiming of street space for pedestrians, adapting regulations for outdoor dining and schooling, and pop-up recreational space, plus growing discourse around the 15-minute city the crisis has accelerated the shift to more liveable cities. Moreover, the changing context of the traditional workplace and reliance on digital facilities and facilitation has the potential to change commuting patterns and opens up the discussion of how to reimagine the built environment. This session explored strategies rethinking public space and reshaping urban landscapes in ways that generate benefits for everyone and future-proof the city.

Champion Mayors speaking on this panel included:

Matúš Vallo, Mayor of Bratislava, Slovakia

Einat Kalisch-Rotem, Mayor of Haifa, Israel

Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland, USA


Mayor Panel, 27 May 09:00 – 10:30 CET

COVID-19 recovery planning represents a clear opportunity for cities to make their economy greener and get to some climate change goals. Investing in green measures in cities creates jobs, sets local conditions for long-term economic growth, reduces CO2 emissions, prepares communities for future climate related risks, and makes for healthier residents. In response to the pandemic, an increasing number of green recovery initiatives have emerged, displaying cities’ high level of ambition as well as their capacity to experiment with innovative solutions. This session examined the variety of strategies cities are making to achieve an inclusive economic recovery in parallel with environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.

Champion Mayors speaking on this panel included:

Ricardo Rio, Mayor of Braga, Portugal

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone

Susan Aitken, Council Leader of Glasgow, UK

Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany


Champion Mayors Meeting, 28 May

Read about the meeting outcomes here.