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updates on the mayors challenge

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City of São Paulo Selected as the 2016 Grand Prize Winner in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Latin American and Caribbean Mayors Challenge

30 Nov 2016

Four Other Cities Also Win Funds for their Ambitious, Innovative Ideas to Confront Urgent and Complex Urban Challenges within the Region

Remaining 15 Finalists will be Offered Financial Incentives and Support to Advance their Ideas within the Next Six Months

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the winners of its 2016 Mayors Challenge, an ideas competition that encourages cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and have the potential to spread. After a year-long competitive process alongside their peers, five cities emerged as winners based on four criteria: their idea’s vision and creativity, potential for impact, transferability, and viability of implementation.

São Paulo, Brazil was awarded this year’s Grand Prize and will receive $5 million for its proposal to connect struggling local farmers on the outskirts of the city to vibrant city markets and restaurants in need of organic products. Prizes also were awarded to Bogotá, Colombia for rethinking the school commute for children; Guadalajara, Mexico for tackling corruption in permitting and land use; Medellín, Colombia for combatting illegal lending and promoting financial inclusion; and Santiago, Chile for its community based approach to reducing childhood obesity. Each of these four cities will receive $1 million and robust implementation support to bring their proposals to life.

“The variety and ingenuity of the five winning ideas highlights the innovation happening in Latin American and Caribbean cities,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City. “If these ambitious ideas take root, they have the potential to improve lives across the region and serve as a model for other cities around the world.”

The Latin American and Caribbean region had the highest participation rate in the history of the Mayors Challenge – 290 cities representing 19 countries across the region responded to the invitation in January and submitted proposals in April. Bloomberg Philanthropies and a selection committee of 13 innovation and policy experts then conducted an intensive review of the ideas to select twenty finalists to move forward in the competition. Over a four month period, finalists participated in a robust program of support to stretch and strengthen their proposals.  During this time they attended Ideas Camp – a two-day intensive workshop in Bogotá, Colombia, where they worked with leading innovation experts and peer cities to further refine their ideas.

The 2016 winners represent an exciting mix of geographies and important issues for the region. They also share key themes: the sophisticated use of technology and data to enable greater impact; the prioritization of citizens’ needs and experiences; and a reliance on partnerships to enhance local commitment and sustainability. Together, these bold ideas and proposed solutions reflect complex challenges facing cities in the Latin American and Caribbean region and beyond:

• São Paulo (Mayor Fernando Haddad and Mayor-elect João Dória) – Growing Farmers’ Income, Shrinking Urban Sprawl

Local farmers on the urban fringes of São Paulo struggle to market their produce and make a living. They often sell their land for development, encouraging urban sprawl and impacting the city’s water supply. With a simple and elegant digital solution, São Paulo will connect local farmers to city restaurants and markets in need of organic products. The program will help struggling family farmers be more profitable, promote sustainable land use and protect the city’s water supply.

• Bogotá (Mayor Enrique Peñalosa) – Creating a Safer, Shorter and More Engaging School Commute for Bogotá’s Youth

In Bogotá, 1.5 million children face excessively long commutes to and from school. Bogotá’s “Children First” initiative will ensure safety and shorten commute times with dedicated school bus lanes, new pedestrian zones and bicycle-sharing. The city also will transform the dull commute into an enriching and fun educational experience with the help of volunteers and online games that children can play as they walk to school or ride the bus.

• Guadalajara (Mayor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez) – Fighting Corruption through Transparency in Land Use

Guadalajara will tackle corruption by building a website that makes the building permitting process highly transparent. It will publicly map business names, plans, licenses, and payments, giving private companies and communities much-needed predictability and by providing citizens visibility into the process. This will not only reduce corruption, but also will encourage the city to adhere to zoning regulations and bolster its historically weak urban planning.

• Medellín (Mayor Federico Gutiérrez) – Enabling Neighborhood Loan Funds, Reducing Illegal Lending

Loan sharks prey on Medellín’s poor, offering short-term high interest loans when residents cannot put together enough money for daily essentials. The City will start a series of neighborhood loan funds where residents pool resources and make small loans to one another – combatting crime and promoting financial inclusion amongst the most vulnerable residents. Violent crime is one of the most critical issues facing cities across the region, and Medellín is demonstrating that mayors can take the lead in safeguarding the security of their citizens.

• Santiago (Mayor Carolina Tohá Morales and Mayor-elect Felipe Alessandrini) – Galvanizing School Communities to Reduce Childhood Obesity

Santiago will use competitions to mobilize entire school communities – local schoolchildren, their parents, teachers, and nonprofits – in evidence based activities that reduce obesity. Santiago is one of the first cities to embrace competition to improve public health outcomes. Classrooms will earn points when they adopt evidence-based strategies, such as walking to school or packing healthy lunches, which they can then convert to rewards such as new playgrounds.

Bloomberg Philanthropies will deepen its investment in early stage, innovative ideas and the commitment to strengthening the bonds between public innovators in the region. The remaining 15 Mayors Challenge finalists will be offered a new program of support with peer to peer engagement, coaching and financial incentives for cities that advance their ideas within the next six months.

The 2016 Mayors Challenge is Bloomberg Philanthropies’ first Government Innovation offering in Latin America and the Caribbean. Government Innovation equips mayors and other city leaders with the tools and techniques they need to solve urban challenges and improve citizens’ lives. “In this year’s competition we were inspired by the number of creative public sector leaders throughout Latin America and the Caribbean who are committed to generating bold solutions to major social and economic challenges,” said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “As the winning ideas demonstrate, innovative cities throughout the region are making smart use of technology and strategic partnerships with a clear focus on improving life for citizens.”

Beyond the call for the best ideas, the competition was designed to expose hundreds of city leaders to new strategies and tools that can help them better meet the needs of their residents during the competition and beyond. When surveyed, 98% of city leaders said participating as a finalist in the Mayors Challenge was a once in a lifetime experience and 92% say they were already able to share new skills or tools from the Mayors Challenge with city employees who are not involved in the competition.

The announcement of winners was held today at WeWork Varsovia in Mexico City. “By working together, every person, every community, and every city can powerfully affect positive change in the world,” said Adam Neumann, CEO, WeWork. “At WeWork we transform buildings into innovative spaces and communities that empower people to create, explore new ideas, and boldly pursue their life’s work. We are thrilled to host the winners of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge and are committed to supporting efforts around the world to positively shape the future of cities.”

São Paulo received the Mayors Challenge trophy designed by artist Olafur Eliasson. The trophy is made from stainless steel, with a solid, cast-silver needle and nickel-coated neodymium magnet hung on a frictionless string, and celebrates the power of creative thinking. Reminiscent of meridian lines or orbits, the polygons – square, circle, and dodecagon – subtly symbolize the basic principles of time, space, and our shared values. The 12-sided polygon signifies the time in which cities and history evolve and change; its sides reflecting the hours of a clock or the months of the Gregorian calendar. The square frame represents the notion of a map, on which cities are drawn and plans are made. The angle of the central circle is the same as the earth’s axial tilt, referring explicitly to our shared planet and aspirations. Hanging at the center, a compass steadily indicates north, allowing us to see ourselves within a context – and assisting viewers in imagining their collective responsibility to navigate towards the greater good.

Further detail and related elements for this year’s Mayors Challenge and past competition winners can be found via: http://mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org.

More information about the Mayors Challenge competition is available through http://www.bloomberg.org/initiative/mayors_challenge.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $510 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Media Contact

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