Global Parliament of Mayors launched, attracts support
The Global Parliament of Mayors has recently welcomed in its ranks its new high-profile member, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles. The GPM was founded last September 2016, based on the ideas outlined by political theorist Benjamin Barber in his 2013 book, “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities”. Barber’s key argument is that cities, rather than nation-states, will be the drivers of future change.
According to Barber cities have accrued considerable power during the Twenty-First Century by becoming home to over half of the world’s population and contributing approximately 80 percent of global GDP. More importantly, he argues that local officials tend to practice a pragmatic and innovative style of governance.
Past initiatives have already shown the efficiency of inter-city collaboration. For instance, the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of ‘megacities’ dedicated to reaching environmental targets such as the Paris Agreements, has resulted in a massive ‘scaling-up’ of local initiatives such bike-sharing programs.
The GPM, by creating an international forum for local officials, will allow Mayors to discuss and develop solutions for the most pressing issues facing cities today. Information-sharing could improve the living conditions of citizens everywhere as urban policies with a proven track-record would quickly spread across nations.
Advocates of the GPM have also pointed out that cities’ commitment to diversity and progressive-leanings could become a valuable bulwark to the rising tide of far-right nation-states.
Less than a year since its inception, the GPM already brought together over 60 local officials, including Mayor Giorgos Kaminis of Athens, Mayor Park Won-Soon of Seoul and Mayor Sanjeev Nayyar of North-Delhi.
As Benjamin Barber himself puts it: “If you’re down, if you’re feeling dispirited, if you’re feeling nothing works, have a second look at cities”.
Shortly after its launch 10 years ago, the international Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly recognized the global importance of cities and determined that “consideration may be given for the inclusion of local authorities in the consultative UN Parliamentary Assembly”.
4 February 2013: Cities and their role in global governance, an important debate