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Inside the Global Parliament of Mayors

April 22, 2020

Baharan Andishmand and Pietro d’Arcano

The Global Parliament of Mayors initiated the Corona Crisis: Mayors Act Now Campaign to keep mayors informed and connected during the biggest global challenge of the 21st century, but pandemic preparedness is no new priority for the GPM. In 2018, mayors supported the GPM Bristol Declaration, which was established with the great support from the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science & Security. Mayors committed to prioritize pandemic preparedness as a key component of urban health planning, collaborate with researchers and consultants to generate valid data to implement practical initiatives to improve urban health planning and pandemic preparedness. Finally, the GPM urged for an intra-city mechanism to efficiently share information and experiences to facilitate emergency responses.

Following this, under the more recent GPM Durban Declaration 2019 the GPM committed itself to reducing the spread of misinformation and improving health literacy, especially among vulnerable populations. Mayors of the GPM have called on international institutions to promote information sharing and communication measures in and between cities to prevent and reduce the international spread of infectious diseases; and prioritize the research and development of antibiotics, vaccines and other medicines for communicable diseases.

The range of threats to public health is growing – climate change, poor housing, and infrastructure, new infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance – with potentially severe economic and social implications. The GPM can act as a conduit for mayors to build partnerships and collaborate toward meeting local challenges arising from global problems. “In overcoming the pandemic, we must continue to act with great openness about possible solutions, and our actions must be guided by evidence from scientific research whilst remaining appropriate”, said GPM Chair and Mayor Peter Kurz of Mannheim, Germany. By forming networks and partnerships to implement initiatives, mayors could make a meaningful impact on health security across local, national and international boundaries. One of the tools the GPM promotes is the RUHSA Tool intended to assess municipal capacities to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to health security threats developed by Matthew Boyce and Rebecca Katz from Georgetown University.

Mayors from around the world are invited to contribute to the #MayorsActNow campaign both at GPM’s Virtual Parliament, as well as through other media channels. All public documents are shared on the corona crisis campaign section of GPM’s website. The flyer is translated into several languages and encourages mayors to share their top initiatives to tackle the pandemic. This is the time to share expertise across continents and beyond borders. This has brought us contributions from Taipei in Taiwan presenting “Quarantine Hotels” designed to accommodate tourists in particular and urging landlords to lower the rent for residents. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak a national state of disaster was declared in South Africa, Durban- eThekwini Mayor Kaunda created the Covid-19 War Room, a municipal body in charge of taking decisions and directions that affect employees, citizens and city operations. The most shared message given is “Whenever possible, stay indoors” by Mayor Halsema of Amsterdam in an open letter to all citizens and interestingly announced to embrace the ‘doughnut model’ as post corona economy.

The GPM is convinced that mayoral leadership can overcome this crisis not only in cities but as a world community.