This year’s leitmotif of the Summit was the topic of urban development despite global challenges caused by the pandemic. During the event, participants discussed global trends in urban development, cooperation between local and central government, investments attraction, inclusiveness and more.
Iryna Ozymok, the founder of the International Mayors Summit, highlighted: “The International Mayors Summit is more than a conference, it is a meeting point for those who want to make cities better. In fact, for the last almost 2 years cities have been at the forefront: in addition to fighting the pandemic, they had to continue urban modernization and development, and today we learned how the leaders of Ukrainian and foreign cities managed to do it all. This period taught high-quality cooperation with business, a responsible attitude to the urban space, and showed the value of clean air, as well as taught that decisions must be fact and data-based.”
Among the guests of the Summit were city mayors of Khmelnytsky, Mykolaiv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Mariupol, Zhovkva, Odesa, Novohrad-Volynsky, Chortkiv, Tirana (Albania), as well as experts and urban planners from Ukraine and the world.
The mayor of Tirana, the capital of Albania, Erion Veliaj, underlined that the main task of the mayor is to implement changes, and shared his experience of implementing socially significant initiatives in the city. “Every month we build playgrounds. I have been in the office for 72 months, and we have already built 72 playgrounds. We are often told that there is no point in wasting time on children, saying that they do not have the right to vote. However, it is the children who are our future. Now we have the most community-oriented city center and all this thanks to children. In 2022, Tirana will become the capital of youth”, the mayor emphasized.
The Tirana Mayor also spoke about the unique initiative of landscaping the capital for the health and well-being of present and future generations. “We have set a goal: to plant 2 million trees by the end of 2030. At first it seemed unrealistic, but every day we get closer to the goal. Every child in Tirana plants a tree for their birthday. In this way, children connect with the city, and the capital becomes more environmentally friendly”, said Erion Veliaj.
Ten Ukrainian city Mayors presented the successful projects they implemented during the fight against the pandemic. In particular, Khmelnytsky Mayor Oleksandr Simchyshyn spoke about the successful cooperation between the city and business and the development of entrepreneurship. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko presented Mariupol’s municipal strategy to counter Covid-19.
The head of Mykolaiv city Oleksandr Senkevich shared experience of city-business effective synergy for the sake of community development projects. «The Mykolaiv aluminous plant invested UAH 155 million and built a separate modular hospital in just half a year. 2319 people were treated in this hospital. At the same time, local businesses helped deliver food and medicine to people who could not leave the house on their own”, said Oleksandr Senkevych.
Chortkiv Mayor Volodymyr Shmatko made a presentation “From Mayor to HR … or how to remain a successful community in times of crisis”, during which he said that one of the challenges of the pandemic was staff recruiting. That is why the city has introduced a program that compensates leading experts for rented housing. In addition, many initiatives aimed at tourism development and investment flow were supported.
Oleh Kukh, the head of the Lyubeshiv community, said that the closure of cultural facilities caused by the pandemic had prompted local authorities to take an inventory of the sector and launch a project to create a new network of cultural institutions.
Ivano-Frankivsk Mayor Ruslan Martsinkiv said that the pandemic prompted positive changes in several areas and the development of public transport has become one of the priority projects. “For me, the biggest challenge during the pandemic was transport – it did not work for the longest time. So we started exploring this sector actively and decided that all transport should be municipal and bought a number of buses, which helped us a lot. In particular, they transported medical workers. 90% of vehicles have cameras to avoid theft. We managed to sell an e-ticket, which helped to attract twice as much money from their sale to the budget. The pandemic has proven that people need green areas. That is why we have completed the reconstruction of the city lake, created new recreational zones”, Ruslan Martsinkiv shared his successes.
Novohrad-Volynskyi Mayor Mykola Borovets shared his experience of holding the first municipal Hackathon, which brought together three Ukrainian universities to work on a city development strategy and proved that the Hackathon is an effective tool for community involvement.
Representatives of Ukrainian and international business also took part in the Summit. In particular, the main partner of the event, the Ukrainian wireless security company Ajax Systems, which actively cooperates with local authorities and protects municipal facilities, presented its experience. Andrii Rusan, Sales Director at Ajax Systems, noted that the company’s participation in the Summit is an example of how business can and should be part of the city and country development. According to Andriy Rusan, wireless security systems can, firstly, save cities money, and secondly, make the life quality better, because security is one of the key tasks of the government.
“Mariupol local authorities have announced a tender for the implementation of a security system. The proposed solution of the Ajax wireless system won and in less than two months the system was implemented in 114 educational institutions. Thus, by investing UAH 17 million in the project, the city will save 38 million annually, which was previously spent on security staff and concierges. The project paid off in six months. Now another 25 cities have started implementing the Ajax security system. On average, this will save about UAH 2.5 billion per year. These funds are enough to restore the Chornomorets stadium in Odessa or build a new airport in Kharkiv”, Andrii Rusan explained.
Provided a special format of the Summit, which combined expert discussions, mayors pitches, as well as useful meetings with business representatives, participants gained new knowledge and were able to establish strong connections with urban transformation leaders from around the world, sign memoranda and launch new partnerships.