Johannesburg Hosts Metropolis Annual Meeting with Great Success


The 2013 Metropolis Annual Meeting, held in Johannesburg, was closed with great success on 19 July 2013, having drawn over 400 participants from different cities from around the world.

The 2013 Metropolis Annual Meeting, held in Johannesburg, was closed with great success on 19 July 2013, having drawn over 400 participants from different cities from around the world.

Over the four days of meetings, the Caring Cities theme was present in all of the sessions held. Experts and political representatives acted as the spokespeople for their respective cities to make the meetings a discussion forum for the exchange of knowledge and to give the delegates present a first-hand account of their experiences.

The next meeting of the Metropolis network will take place in Hyderabad from 6 to 10 October 2014 to mark the 11th Metropolis World Congress and the celebration of the Association’s 30th Anniversary.

Over the course of the first day of sessions, the South African Cities Network panel discussion started, which analyzed the Ubuntu concept related to the meeting’s theme, Caring Cities. The panel analysis initiated the rest of the meetings, which addressed different sub-themes related to these concepts; however, the analysis aimed to go beyond just policies, legislation and figures.

In turn, Metropolis and UN-Habitat collaborated once again through the Safer Cities Global Network and presented the outcomes of a number of outstanding experiences carried out by some cities on the African continent and in Latin America which apply the “safe cities” concept. The session was opened by the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Franklyn (Parks) Tau, Aisa Kirabo Kacyra, deputy executive director of UN-Habitat, Metropolis Secretary General Alain Le Saux and Mr. Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the United States Conference of Mayors (to check the list of speakers, click here). The session ended with speeches by Metropolis member cities and experts in the issue of safety in South Africa.

For its part, the Metropolis Women International Network enjoyed the collaboration of political representatives and experts in gender issues who discussed the role of local authorities in the development of policies that can prevent violence and foster the protection of vulnerable groups such as women (to check the  speakers, click here).

Following this discussion, the Network’s Antennae met to elect their offices of the President and Vice-President. Barcelona was chosen to fill the role of the Presidency (Francina Vila), and the cities of Abidjan and Athens the Vice Presidencies (Yaba Catherine Zouzoua and Anna Hatziyiannaki, respectively).

17 July was the most important day of the meeting with the celebration of the Opening Ceremony and the political Plenary Session on the event’s general theme, Caring Cities.

The opening ceremony featured the distinguished presence of the Mayor of Johannesburg, the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, taking part on behalf of the Metropolis President, and the deputy executive director of UN-Habitat, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira. The South African Minister of Planning, Trevor Manuel, offered the attendees an exceptional speech on “more humane cities” drawn from his experience in government.

The political plenary session brought together political representatives from Johannesburg in the form of mayor Mpho Parks Tau, the deputy mayor of São Paulo Nadia Campeão, the vice president of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, Antoni Balmón, and the deputy mayor of Hyderabad, Golkonda Rajkumar.

Each addressed a different facet a city should have to be a Caring City and set out to the attendees ways that their cities could focus their policies to make them  more humane.    

The coordinators of the Metropolis Initiatives met again to assess the operation of the Initiatives over the past year and set new starting points to improve their functioning. Three Initiatives of the eight under way held two meetings in Johannesburg: The Berlin and Melbourne Initiatives worked together to explain the “Circles of Sustainability” methodology to the delegates present, led by Prof. Paul James. In a parallel session, the Metropolis Initiative led by the State of São Paulo offered a conference on different funding mechanisms for urban projects.

The thematic sessions, organized by the city of Johannesburg, were very well attended by the delegates. Over the six sessions, the Ubuntu philosophy linked with the Caring Cities theme (“More humane cities”) was present with the following themes: food resilience, agile cities, the informal economy, resilience of resources, committed citizens and social cohesion. Each session featured well-known international experts on the theme.

International Nelson Mandela Day, also known as Mandela Day, is celebrated every 18 June in remembrance of everything Nelson Mandela has achieved in the fields of conflict resolution, democracy, human rights, peace and reconciliation. The date not only pays homage to Mandela’s life but is a worldwide call for people to recognize their own ability to have a positive effect on others. This year the city of Johannesburg organized an activity that saw the delegates dedicate 67 minutes of their time to others by making customized toys to give to the Entokozweni Day Care Centre. Also, taking advantage of the delegates’ attendance, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital presented its development project and reminded people that its construction will only be possible through the donations it receives.   

FMDV held its Board Meeting, which included the presentation of the REsolutions campaign as part of the session on “Towards Sustainable Funding for Urban Development in Africa: Challenges, Barriers and Opportunities”.

The Metropolis Board of Directors meeting was held once more. Decisions included the approval of two new Metropolis Initiatives: the Cybernarium and the “Creation of an Orthotics and Prosthetics Adaptation Center for Victims of Amputation”. Both Initiatives will run for one year.

The Metropolis International Institute met with the antennae to define the 2014 schedule and coordinate the actions to take next year.

The Hyderabad delegation presented the project for the 11th Metropolis World Congress in Hyderabad in October 2014, establishing the areas of action to coordinate with the Metropolis Secretariat-General.

Furthermore, Metropolis member cities were chosen to host upcoming events, after presenting their candidatures and having them voted on by the Board. The results were:

·       Metropolis 2015 Annual Meeting Host Member: City of Buenos Aires

·       Metropolis 2016 Annual Meeting Host Member: City of Dakar

·       Metropolis 12th World Congress (2017) Host Member: City of Medellin

Metropolis currently has 125 members, of which five formalized their incorporation at the Board of Directors meeting in Johannesburg: New Taipei City, São Paulo (city), Ahmedabad, NIUA-India and Victoria (Seychelles).

Information on the presentations, interviews and photographs are now available on the website of the 2013 Johannesburg Annual Meeting.