At Living Together 2019, local leaders talked global problems for three days. Düsseldorf's mayor had invited representatives from around the world to find local-level solutions to global problems.
Düsseldorf Mayor Thomas Geisel invited 38 municipal representatives from 28 countries to the capital of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia for Living Together 2019. Held from August 30 to September 1, the second international mayors' summit brought together local-level leaders to discuss the common challenges of sustainable urban living and focused on five principal themes: communication, health, resilience, connectivity and inclusiveness.
The event featured a variety of interactive workshops, roundtable discussions and cultural events.
"It doesn't matter where in the world your city is," Geisel said at the signing of the Declaration of Düsseldorf on Saturday evening in the city's Tonhalle concert venue. "We can learn from each other. We have spoken about problems that can be found in Asia, Africa, America ... all over the world."
The delegates agreed on a continual exchange for better coexistence, integration and participation, and said they would seek to expand their network in the near future.
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Envisioning livable cities
This year's summit carried the slogan "Live Close — Feel Free."
The first Living Together conference took place in 2015 in Montreal, in the French Canadian province of Quebec. Participants established the International Observatory of Mayors on Living Together, a network of cities that documents best practices to help improve the quality of life globally.
The overall aim of the conference was to co-create an inspiring vision of a future livable city that responds to residents' needs and allows for open dialogue with municipal leaders on how to deal with societal change.
Migration and environment
Mayor Geisel acknowledged that the key challenges for many EU cities are creating affordable housing, improving living conditions and finding social cohesion.
"I think it's important to have affordable housing in every part of the city," Geisel said.
The three-day conference also had a heavy focus on environmental sustainability, digital innovation, and migration and integration policies.
Delegates agreed that cities must navigate alternatives for transport and waste management, as well as reduce CO2 emissions. The conference also looked at how innovation and technology can transform new ways of leadership and "e-governance."
A hot topic at the conference was how to address radicalization and segregation in an era of mass migration. Some of the measures debated included the "empowerment of structurally weak neighborhoods" and ameliorating refugee and migrant integration policies.
Geisel emphasized that "diversity plays an even bigger role" in achieving interconnectedness now.