Mayor Naheed Nenshi awarded the 2014 World Mayor Prize


By Tann vom Hove, Brian Baker and Jonas Schorr

Naheed Nenshi, the Mayor of Calgary, Canada, has been awarded the 2014 World Mayor Prize. First runner-up Daniël Termont, Mayor of Ghent, Belgium, will be conferred the World Mayor Commendation for Services to European Cities. Second runner-up Mayor Tri Rismaharini will receive the World Mayor Commendation for services to the City of Surabaya, Indonesia.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

blue_calgary_nenshiCalgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the winner of the 2014 World Mayor Prize, is the most admired mayor of any large Canadian city. His vision how a city should plan for its future has attracted the attention of urban thinkers from across North America. Since taking office in 2010, he has become the most admired mayor of any large Canadian city. He is an urban visionary who doesn’t neglect the nitty-gritty of local government. For many in North America and indeed Europe, Mayor Nenshi is a role model for decisive management, inclusivity and forward planning. He has also demonstrated strong leadership during disasters like the Alberta floods of 2013 and last year’s power outage, which affected large parts of the downtown area of the city. While Mayor Nenshi rejects being labelled progressive or indeed anything else – in the World Mayor interview he said: “I really believe that this kind of categorization alienates people and keeps them from participating in the political process.” – he has not shied away from challenging conservative views from some members of Alberta’s provincial government.

In 2010 Naheed Nenshi became the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city after his ‘Purple Revolution’ captured the imagination of voters from right across the political spectrum. Some six weeks before the 18 October 2010 elections, opinion polls only credited Naheed Nenshi with eight per cent support but extensive use of social media combined with tireless door stepping – his supporters even organised coffee parties in their homes where Nenshi explained his vision – propelled him to victory on election day. Three years later the Mayor was re-elected with almost three quarters of votes cast.

Ghent Mayor Daniël Termont

blue_ghent_termontDaniël Termont, first runner up and winner of the World Mayor Commendation for services to European cities, has served the City of Ghent since 1977, first as a city councillor and from 1995 to 2007 Deputy Mayor. In 2007 he was elected Mayor and five years later re-elected for a second term. During his political career, he has several times been asked to enter national politics but has always declined, insisting that he wanted to focus on serving Ghent and its citizens. Despite or because of his many years in public life, he remains very popular. Daniël Termont has set the city ambitious environmental, social and economic targets and believes the majority of them can be met with the co-operation of Ghent citizens and the city’s other stakeholders.

Mayor Termont insists that co-operation is not given freely but has to be earned again and again. He seeks dialogue where other people in power might command. The Mayor is accessible and feels comfortable talking to ordinary people but is also a skilled negotiator when dealing with business, government and even royalty. He says, his number one rule is to be always myself. “I speak my mind but always with respect, no matter whom I am talking to.”

Mutual respect is essential in a city of some 250,000 people that is home to 160 different nationalities. “Civilisations do not clash in Ghent,” says Mayor Termont. The City allows, indeed it encourages celebrations by different cultures but the Mayor stresses that there are basic rules in society that everyone has to follow without exception. “I will not allow anyone to break these rules, whether they are Belgian or not.”

Like many mayors of European cities that trace their origins to the Middle Ages, Daniël Termont must be both moderniser and conservationist. Ghent, which in the 12th and 13th centuries was Europe’s second-biggest city after Paris, has the largest number of protected buildings in Belgium. It is also competing to attract bio-related companies and businesses from other growth sectors. The city has successfully nurtured one technology park and is planning a second. Ghent also benefits from the presence of one of the world’s most respected science-focused universities.
Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini

Second runner-up and winner of the World Mayor Commendation for services to the city of Surabaya is Mayor Tri Rismaharini. After the election of Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo to Indonesia’s presidency, Mayor ‘Risma’ has become the country’s most talked about city leader. She has attracted national and international attention for energetically promoting her social, economic and environmental policies in Indonesia’s second-largest city.

When Tri Rismaharini was first elected Mayor in 2010, Surabaya, although rich in history, was a city neglected by successive governments. It was then described as a concrete dumb. Mayor Risma’s policy has been to make the most of empty land and open spaces. There are now eleven major parks in Surabaya, all with different themes. Many parks also provide Wi-Fi access and include libraries, fitness and other sports facilities. Surabaya has also enlarged other open spaces such as cemeteries so that they serve as water absorption space – unlike Jakarta, the city had not had any serious flooding for three years – and has added green lanes along main roads and created city forests.

Tri Rismaharini often talks of the need to govern not only for the people but also with the people. “A city must be first and foremost be a home for its citizens.” She learnt from the experience of other fast-growing cities in Asia and Europe that massive new developments can alienate people. The Mayor is therefore keen to match built development with social programmes. Early in her time in office, brothels in some areas of the city were converted into kindergartens and abandoned petrol stations into children playgrounds.

Recently, she has campaigned for the families who lost relatives and friends when the AirAsia flight 8501, after taking off from Surabaya, crashed into the Java Sea.
The World Mayor Project

World Mayor, a project conceived and organised by the City Mayors Foundation, aims to raise the profile of mayors worldwide, as well as to honour those who have made long-lasting contributions to their communities and are committed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally. An outstanding mayor must possess qualities such as: honesty, leadership and vision, good management abilities, social and economic awareness, ability to provide security and to protect the environment, as well as having the skill to cultivate good relations between communities different cultural, racial and social backgrounds. The World Mayor Project started in 2004. The City Mayors Foundation, set up in 2003 as an urban think tank and campaigning organisation, is instrumental in promoting good, open and honest local government through its Code of Ethics.

The World Mayor Project and The City Mayors Foundation have no connection with any city or organisation and are run on philanthropic lines. The Foundation is financed and maintained by its fellows according to their means and expertise. Sponsorships, advertising, subscriptions, donations or any other kind of revenues are not sought, and if offered, are rejected.

The 2014 Top 10 Mayors

During December 2014, the Fellows of The City Mayors Foundation drew up a list of ten mayors who stood out in terms of public support, achievements and excellence of tributes from their citizens.

The total number of testimonials received for the 26 nominees exceeded 256,000. While a number of top-ten ranked mayors were supported by thousands of followers, the World Mayor jury considered the size of support as only secondary. The panel was primarily influenced by the arguments and persuasiveness of testimonials bestowed on mayors. As some city leaders in the top ten represent large metropolises, while others are mayors of much smaller towns, members of the jury were of the opinion that basing judgment on numbers alone would unfairly disadvantage mayors from smaller communities.

The jury was also acutely aware that outstanding mayors from cities in many parts of the developing world face challenges that require different qualities compared to mayors from Western Europe or North America. The winner of the annual World Mayor Prize is therefore never described in terms such as ‘the world’s best mayor’.

Naheed Nenshi Calgary Canada
Daniël Termont Ghent Belgium
Tri Rismaharini Surabaya Indonesia
Carlos Ocariz Sucre Venezuela
Jed Patrick Mabilog Iloilo City Philippines
Albrecht Schröter Jena Germany
Annise Parker Houston USA
Yiannis Boutaris Thessaloniki Greece
Giusy Nicolini Lampedusa Italy
Aziz Kocaoglu Izmir Turkey

Source World Mayor