Mayors' Conference on "City Development and Democracy: visions for the coming decade
The International Mayors' Conference on "City Development and Democracy" was held from 8 to 10 of October 2009 at Leipzig’s Grassi Museum. The participants included representatives from 19 cities in Europe, Africa, America and Asia, including the mayors of almost all of the cities with which Leipzig is twinned.
Leipzig first invited mayors to participate in the festivities and exchange ideas on the tenth anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution in 1999. For the twentieth anniversary the cooperation which began ten years ago was continued and intensified.
Within the context of its partner city network Leipzig has been able to establish itself as a location for reflection on the processes of democracy at the community level. Special focus has been placed on “cities as a place to live in” and the urban development process in Leipzig, which has proved a model for cities all over Europe.
Mayors from all around the world in Leipzig
In addition to the introductory address given by Professor Saskia Sassen there were three working sessions on the theme of the conference: "City Development and Democracy: visions for the coming decade" as well as on the participation of the mayors in the official celebrations commemorating the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.
Together with other events organised by the city commemorating 9th October, in particular the conference on "Democracy in the 21st century" which took place two weeks after the Mayors' Conference, the significance of Leipzig as the place of origin of the Peaceful Revolution in the autumn of 1989 was highlighted and reinforced within overall European consciousness.
Closing declaration of the international Mayors' Conference
At the end of the two-day conference the participating mayors issued a closing declaration which formulated a range of factors for successful and sustainable urban development within the context of globalisation. In the coming years all those involved aim to intensify their efforts to promote the following:
- The development and perpetuation of a strong and reliable political leadership founded on basic democratic principles and containing a clear vision for the future.
- Opening up new dimensions of local possibilities for action and responding to global challenges which increasingly require cities worldwide to act together and cooperate.
- The creation of integrated city planning concepts as the most successful approach to efficient and future-oriented urban development – especially for those city areas affected by difficult conditions. Of central importance is the creation of new and consistent partnerships which integrate the various levels of politics, business, social institutions, initiatives as well as the citizens themselves. The potential, resources and ideas of residents should be integrated and put to use.
- The creation of new and ongoing programmes in education and training in order to ensure that all people are guaranteed access to important technologies and the skills necessary to use them. The aim in this is to ensure social solidarity. Close attention should be paid to the creation, stabilisation and expansion of structures which stimulate and facilitate civil involvement – ranging from the accessibility of locations for action through to possibilities for further education and training. This is also aimed at groups which are currently involved at a low level only because of a lack of resources in terms of education or income.
- To make civil involvement visible and honour it as an important and positive factor which makes people proud to be living in their city as well as taking responsibility for and identifying with it. The commitment of its citizens is by no means the least of a city's strengths.