Mayors' Network


16 February 2020

On the Mayors’ Day prior to the 7th International Mayors’ Conference NOW in Vienna from 17 to 18 February, 2020, mayors and municipal representatives met in the new urban expansion zone in Vienna Seestadt Aspern to learn about urban planning and participate in a workshop on civic engagement and participation.

Topic: How can urban planning support social cohesion? The new urban area Seestadt Aspern

“A city is a communal house without a roof,” said Gerhard Schuster, CEO of the Wien 3240 aspern Development agency reflecting on neighborhoods where everything should be available within a five minutes walking distance. The NOW Mayors’ Network visited the new urban area Seestadt Aspern in the 22nd district of Vienna in order learn how the city planners approached the topics of inclusion, mobility, creation of public spaces and building social and economic sustainable environments for around 20.000 inhabitants, various companies and institutions.

With the help of a Neighborhood Management team residents, stakeholders and institutions are encouraged to create space for encounter and exchange and to shape a vibrant city-within-a-city.

Mutual cooperation of residents and local institutions are but one key element for fostering social cohesion. The city planners therefore considered further aspects to attract residents from all groups of society such as affordable housing, green neighborhoods, restricted motorized traffic, a good public transport connection to the city center as well as a variety of facilities, educational institutions and companies within a short walking distance.

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Topic: From networking to undertaking local action: Presentation of the NOW Mayors’ Network

Founded in 2016 the NOW Mayors’ Network constantly seeks to achieve broader effects by building the capacities of its member municipalities in order to drive local change. Under the thematic frame “Changing the Narrative – The Power of Social Cohesion, Diversity, and Participation in our Municipalities” the network will offer two meetings in 2020 in its member municipalities, accompanied by field trips and workshops. By diagnosing the respective local needs, mayors and municipality representatives will define actions that promote and strengthen social cohesion on the local level.

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Topic: From networking to undertaking local action: Presentation of the NOW Mayors’ Network

In a workshop conducted by Eva Nemela, Programme Director of “Engagierte Stadt” of the German Körber Foundation, the participants of the Mayors’ Day gained insight on what a mayor can do to cooperate with civil society and to strengthen civic engagement and participation. The programme aims to support municipalities in finding solutions for social problems by creating joint actions and forming an infrastructure for civic engagement and participation.

Important key findings from the cooperation programme “Engagierte Stadt” (engl., Committed City), which has so far engaged 50 cities and municipalities in Germany, will help to inspire the members of the NOW Mayors’ Network to support civic engagement and local cooperation:

  • Listen to different people with all kinds of perspectives, especially to those who are usually not heard
  • Endure: Engaged citizens are not always the easiest fellows, but at least they care
  • Be transparent on what can be changed and what not
  • Make room for ideas and realise the best ones
  • Show what you already have: The variety of existing NGOs and opportunities as well as your support activities
  • Be openly appreciative: It is not taken for granted that people care
  • Be responsible: Train your staff to understand the benefit of invested and engaged citizens, establish “participation and social innovation” within your municipality as a cross section with high priority
  • Be the spider in the net: Understand your role as manager and matchmaker for an interaction between the stakeholders