Click here to access the detailed proceedings of the 6th Meeting of OECD Champion Mayors in PDF version.
10 January 2024
On 13 June 2023, OECD Champion Mayors Chair Dagur Eggertsson, Mayor of Reykjavik (Iceland) convened the Sixth Meeting of the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth (hereinafter “Sixth Meeting”), where city leaders discussed how to navigate the cost-of-living crisis and improve housing affordability to increase economic inclusion to the benefit of all residents, in line with the Chair’s Vision Statement. The Sixth Meeting was attended by 27 mayors and 9 deputies, alongside 6 leaders of supporting institutions. It was co-hosted by Philippe Close, Mayor of the City of Brussels (Belgium), and Pascal Smet, Secretary of State of the Brussels-Capital Region (Belgium). OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann provided introductory remarks (via pre-recorded video), and Deputy Secretary-General Yoshiki Takeuchi provided closing remarks alongside Chair Eggertsson and Director of the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE), Lamia Kamal-Chaoui.
Building on the OECD Policy Perspectives paper “Confronting the cost-of-living and housing crisis in cities”, and a series of 21 blogs drafted by Champion Mayors themselves, mayors engaged in a lively discussion to share innovative solutions to advance inclusive growth in their cities and work closely with other levels of government. By endorsing the “Brussels Blueprint for Affordable Cities and Housing for All”, Champion Mayors committed to accelerating their efforts to ease pressures on the cost of living and address the housing crisis.
The Sixth Meeting was an instrumental part of the broader Brussels Urban Summit (BUS), a first-of-its-kind week of urban panels, meetings and workshops among mayors, experts, and practitioners from around the world. The summit took place on 12-15 June 2023, spearheaded by the Brussels-Capital Region under the direction of State Secretary Pascal Smet and co-organised by three international networks of mayors and cities, i.e. the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative, Eurocities, and Metropolis. In total, BUS gathered more than 1400 total attendees, including 84 mayors and 322 city representatives from 82 countries.
The Sixth Meeting featured a lively and wide-ranging discussion among participating Champion Mayors, guest mayors, and leaders of supporting institutions on the critical challenges mayors face in light of the cost-of-living and housing crisis in cities, as well as best practices, recognising that delivery of affordable and quality housing also depends on joint action and funding from public, private and non-profit sectors and across all levels of government. In particular, mayors shared how to mitigate the impact of these crises by ensuring access to affordable and quality services such as public transport, schools, digital tools, and support for small business entrepreneurs for all residents including vulnerable populations such as single parents, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
Mayors discussed the trade-offs and synergies between housing provision and the climate crisis, highlighting how the creation and renovation of quality, affordable, low-emissions housing is essential for cities to reach climate goals. They described innovative methods they have deployed to house and support migrants, refugees, and people experiencing homelessness, and to alleviate the burden of housing on household income.
Yet despite their accomplishments in addressing the housing crisis in cities, Champion Mayors emphasised the need for further action. Many mayors expressed a strong willingness to work closely with national governments on the issue of housing, while some advocated for increased autonomy from national governments in order to make significant progress on the issue.
As part of her closing remarks, CFE Director Lamia Kamal-Chaoui commented that one main value-added of the OECD Champion Mayors is to bring the voice of all its mayors from around the world to national governments, helping to bridge the national and local divide. The Champion Mayors Initiative does not work solely on promoting dialogue but also on policy substance, including salient topics such as circular economy, climate change, housing, decarbonising buildings, and land value capture. For all these policy areas and more, there is OECD data available to Champion Mayors. The Initiative is also currently working on measuring the cost of not addressing inequality, and how that may impact cities. Concerning what happens next with the Brussels Blueprint, while it is not binding, the OECD Secretariat is here to help Champion Mayors implement these policies and monitor progress. It is also important for Champion Mayors to keep in mind that while these meetings only take place periodically, the OECD Secretariat is in constant communication with the appointed focal point staff from each mayor’s office to advance our collective work.
CFE Director Kamal-Chaoui finished by thanking the focal points of the Champion Mayors for their hard work and called on mayors to keep their offices engaged. Last, she outlined the next steps for the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative:
OECD Deputy Secretary-General Yoshiki Takeuchi reiterated the OECD’s commitment to work closely with the Champion Mayors and its supporting institutions to advance its policy priorities and facilitate collaboration between local and national government. This includes bringing the Brussels Blueprint to the national government delegations to the OECD, as well as representing the urban policy priorities of the OECD Champion Mayors at upcoming major international events such as the G7 and the High-Level Political Forum on SDG 11.
To conclude the Sixth Meeting, Chair Eggertsson committed on behalf of the Steering Group to take forth the commitments of the Brussels Blueprint. He expressed his hope that the Initiative will continue to create a dynamic space for exchange among mayors that leads to making the world a better place.