On this World Cities Day, we stand at the cusp of a rare opportunity to reinvent how our cities operate as the urban agenda focuses on recovery. COVID-19 has changed humanity, society, and the planet. Back to the old normal is not an option. We have to invest in a different future where we seriously address how we shift our economic order, which is materially expansive, socially divisive, and environmentally hostile. To be successful cities will need to be empowered to operate.

On October 21-23, mayors from around the world, convened by the Global Parliament of Mayors, gathered virtually in Palermo, Italy to chart a path forward for leadership in the post-COVID era. They were joined by international organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities, think tanks, industry, and other stakeholders. City networks and platforms such as the Global Parliament of Mayors both power and reflect an important development in global governance: the emergence and maturation of cities and urban areas as actors, voices, and problem solvers on the global stage. In Palermo, participating mayors debated critical policy points, shared experiences and lessons, and identified key policy actions around five themes: Cities, Urban Areas, and Climate Migration; Global Governance; Urban Pandemic Response; Rethinking Urban Economies After COVID-19; and Culture. The policy briefing for the debates, which can be found in full here, were provided by international organizations, leading scholars, and practitioners alike.

As the member states of the United Nations affirmed in the New Urban Agenda, there is no addressing global challenges without enabling action by cities and in urban areas. And as global urban leaders, like the GPM and its colleague networks, have affirmed, there is no transforming our cities for the future without collaboration with local stakeholders.

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