Eight European ‘Champion Cities’ selected

15 June 2021

Eight member cities of Eurocities are among the 50 finalists in the ‘Global Mayors’ Challenge’, a worldwide competition run by Bloomberg Philanthropies to award the most innovative responses to the Covid-19 crisis. Those ‘Champion Cities’, announced on Tuesday, “are showing the world that, in the face of the pandemic’s enormous challenges, cities are rising to meet them with bold, innovative, and ambitious ideas,” said founder Michael R. Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York.

From the group of finalists, 15 cities will be selected and will receive $1 million each to implement their ideas. Eurocities is a partner for the Mayors’ Challenge.

The European finalists in the competition are Bilbao, Glasgow, Istanbul, Leuven, London, Paris, Rotterdam and Vilnius.

You can read more here and see a summary of the European proposals below:


Cybersecurity in Bilbao

Bilbao provides free Wi-Fi to residents, which makes its network more vulnerable to malicious software and cyberattacks. The city is proposing a new municipal capacity that identifies and blocks online threats, alerts citizens of risks, and educates the public on cybersecurity.

Bilbao’s idea stands out because it represents an emerging understanding that, as cities increase residents’ digital access, they must also protect that access and, in doing so, build trust.


Climate empowerment in Glasgow

More than a quarter of children in Glasgow are living in poverty; at the same time, the city is struggling to grapple with the impacts of climate change. The city is proposing to upskill its residents – especially those in impoverished areas – with design and innovation skills and link them with industry, business, and academia to launch enterprising solutions to eradicate poverty and address the climate emergency.

The idea is unique because it specifically tests new co-designing processes with communities that could transfer to other cities.


Community support in Istanbul

More than 15% of Istanbul residents live below the poverty line. The city is proposing ‘Pay-it-forward’ – an alternative social-support and solidarity model devised in response to rising Covid-induced poverty. The programme anonymously matches people burdened by unpaid utility bills and other needs, with those willing to cover them.

Istanbul’s idea is compelling because it creates formality and transparency around private philanthropy in an area of the world where this does not exist.


Green contracts in Leuven

In Leuven, motorized transport causes nearly a quarter of emissions, bringing significant climate and health impacts. The city is proposing to incentivize greener transportation options through ‘civic contracts’ – a novel way to both mobilise organisations and individuals to commit to using more sustainable transportation and to promote accountability.

This idea is unique in that it pairs proven techniques of large corporate climate pledges and individual citizen pledges to maximise overall impact.


Holistic re-homing in London

London’s award-winning pandemic response to homelessness provided 10,000 people with emergency accommodation and support. Yet many in London are still becoming homeless and dying prematurely. The city is proposing to create ‘turnaround hubs’ to provide holistic assessments and intensive casework to identify the best routes off the streets and eventually secure and sustain longer-term housing.

This idea is compelling because most coordinated street-engagement work focuses, necessarily, on chronic homeless populations. This effort adds an emphasis to stopping the flow of new populations by establishing a system for early intervention and solutions.


Youth climate academy in Paris

Although seven out of ten French youth say they are committed to climate change, nearly half say they don’t know how to take action. The city of Paris is proposing the Climate Academy to train and certify young people aged 9-25 to lead the ecological transformation of Paris.

The city’s idea is compelling because Paris has already done extensive stakeholder engagement, bringing together representatives of 21 youth associations to lay a strong foundation for the work.


Corporate social impact in Rotterdam

Unemployment in Rotterdam is double the national average and rising, but public budgets have been stressed by the pandemic, limiting funding for employment programmes. Rotterdam proposes to incentivise private-sector engagement in employment initiatives by introducing digital tokens that monetise social impact generated by entrepreneurs, NGOs, and other private stakeholders – similar to the carbon market.

Rotterdam’s idea has strong potential because it builds upon past prototyping efforts and takes private-sector engagement in social problem-solving to the next level through a new marketplace that can quickly scale.


Online learning in Vilnius

Vilnius has an overcrowded public school system and a lack of digital skills among teachers. The city proposes to increase school capacity and invest in digital skills by introducing hybrid, in-person and online learning schedules, introducing a database of online lessons, and opening up city buildings and cultural spaces as digital classrooms.

This idea is unique because it plays forward lessons from Covid-19 that can help strengthen the ability of existing systems to meet needs in less uniform ways.