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WORLD MAYOR 2021
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Mayor of Mannheim (Germany)
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Nominated by Doris S., outside Germany:
Dear Members of the World Mayor Prize Selection Committee,
As the founding Director of Harvard University’s Cultural Agents Initiative, my mission is to promote research on effective policies that enhance rights and resources for broad-based populations. Part of that work is to ally with outstanding leaders to contribute to their effective policies and deepen the research. Both the hands-on and the reflective activities lead me to Mayor Peter Kurz of Mannheim, Germany. He is by far the most talented and dedicated mayor, even among your stellar candidates. For good reason, his colleagues have named him the leader among them as President of the Global Parliament of Mayors.
During this difficult year under the pall of Covid-19, many of us academics and social activists have had time to reflect and to share reflections about how to address sudden challenges that underscore structural insecurity and inequity. At one of the UN meetings in which I participated almost a year ago, the Global Parliament of Mayors partnered to consider the task of violence prevention that confronts most cities today. From the perspective of the United States, it is tragically clear that police force is both unethical and ineffective. Given his leadership of the GPL, I heard Mayor Kurz outline several humane and successful policies; many of them included participatory arts, which was the theme of my contribution to the meeting. A model facilitator who brings out particular talents in his team members for brilliant collective results, Mayor Kurz has advocated true multi-level governance and co-construction of policy in local governments. Under his leadership -- in direct response to the pandemic -- the GPM established the “Mayors Act Now Campaign” to combine public and private opportunities for mayors to exchange advice on how best to manage the pandemic.
I have learned that meetings are meant to locate leads for research and for collaboration. Mayor Kurz’s work stimulated both leads for me through his longstanding and organic devotion to making Mannheim a welcoming and sustainable city. Far better than most cities, Mannheim has addressed the Covid crisis through strong social networks and thanks to the public confidence in city government that mayor Kurtz has established over the years. His confidence building innovations include a newly established Public Library, headed by a multi-talented Turkish immigrant, and designed to be a center of culture and community for the diverse immigrant population in Mannheim. They will count this project as the newest among many others that Mayor Kurtz promotes to welcome refugees as active citizens. I have the great pleasure and the honor to collaborate with the library through a train the trainer literacy program developed at Harvard and deployed worldwide. Mannheim, I predict, will be the “poster-child” for this arts-based program, a vanguard for international advances in civics and sciences.
The broad view of government under Mayor Kurz connects local to global levels by taking the UN SDGs as the horizon for the city’s mission statement. Adopting this statement was an accomplishment that involved over 2,500 citizens. Mayor Kurz understands and embodies the principles of democratic government: Participation is as important as result. Citizens who engaged in the process feel responsible for the city. They care for it in both senses of the term care: loving the city and feeling responsible for it. Together, Mannheim’s mayor and its citizens both newcomers and natives protect the environment through the European Green Deal; they distribute masks and basic prevention devices internationally, develop economic opportunities for Mannheim’s self-employed workers and for and companies that provide essential services, provide an emergency fund to maintain infrastructure in care facilities during the pandemic; and they decentralize vaccination sites to establish equity of public health care.
Mayor Kurz was ready to tackle the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic, given his consistent and effective approach to leadership. “Living together in diversity” has been a longstanding slogan. He makes good on its promise with a network of 300 institutions dedicated to collaboration and peaceful coexistence in a city so diverse that nearly 50% of its families have a recent migration history. A mayor creative enough to support seven start-up centers connected to health, conservation, and culture -- with ample office space, mentoring and accelerator programs --, one who converts old army installations into new housing opportunities and who appoints a “Night Mayor” to oversee peaceful popular entertainment, is clearly extraordinary. With grace and dignity, Mayor Kurz breaks many molds for mayors. That is why he is president of the GPM. His colleagues have already voted him leader and model. My endorsement of their good judgment is the purpose of this brief note to support awarding him the World Mayor Prize.
Nominated by Maro M., (Mayor) Germany:
The city of Mannheim has been Riesa's twin city since June 29, 1988. I met and became acquainted with Mayor Dr Kurz on several joint meetings.
The partnership between our cities is characterised by mutual trust, exchange of information and ideas and inter-municipal cooperation.
I have experienced Dr Kurz as a visionary who implements ideas in a consistent way. For him, the citizens of the city and the city of Mannheim itself rank first. It is vital that cities offer their citizens the best possible quality of life. To do this, it is necessary to continuously develop cities. In doing so, municipalities play a pioneering role in tackling global challenges such as climate change, digitalisation, education and health.
Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, all cities and municipalities worldwide have found themselves in an exceptional situation. We have learned that there is no universal recommended course of action to deal with the pandemic.
To strengthen cooperation in the post-Corona era and to promote the development of cities, Dr Kurz initiated a virtual mayors' summit with all of Mannheim’s twin cities in September 2020. For me, this exchange was a positive sign in these difficult times. The exchange with other mayors supports me and I could apply the experiences and new impulses to my work. The joint declaration of the mayors, which was signed at the end of the conference, affirms that cities must face and accept global challenges.
Particularly exemplary for me is the way the city of Mannheim and Mayor Dr Kurz deal with the issues of visionary urban planning, climate protection and sustainability.
Thus, the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 were transferred to the new mission statement of the city of Mannheim in a comprehensive civic participation process. The goal of the "Mannheim 2030 Mission Statement" is to pinpoint and implement the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals locally. Only by working on the SDGs locally can global success be ensured. International farsightedness and cooperation as well as local action are united in the person of Mayor Dr Kurz, and with regard to this field, I am greatly interested in deepening our cooperation.
Nominated by J. J. H., outside Germany:
Mayor Kurz is an outstanding Mayor and Leader. His response to the Covid pandemic has been exemplary, especially in his early understanding of the importance of city cooperation to deal with the crisis.
In his far-sighted vision for Mannheim, he understands more than most the real role that cities can play in transforming lives not only in Mannheim itself but globally. His early endorsement of creativity as a key part of the mix was in the vanguard of thinking and he has clearly continued to be well ahead in the areas that matter.
Nominated by Tina S., Mannheim:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, I wanna speak on behalf of Mr Kurz, mayor of the city of Mannheim in Germany. Please see my email as a vote for Mr Kurz to be awarded with the World Mayor Prize.
I got to know Mr Peter Kurz as a pioneer in understanding and executing the role of the creative industries in modern urban development. One fine example is the creation of a back to back symbiotic relationship of higher education (Popakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg University of Popular Music and Musik Business) and start up culture (Musikpark Mannheim) in the field of popular music and music business, which has become a role model for other cities locally and internationally. He also had the vision to implement the first “night mayor” in Germany who supports the nightlife scene in Mannheim and meditates in situations of disagreement between the different stakeholders.
I cannot tell you the programs in detail Mr Kurz does for Mannheim to become a fairer and greener city. But I lived in Mannheim for several years and I could see the changes that happened. The Jungbusch district developed from a problem neighborhood into a lively district with many start-ups, restaurants and bars. Especially for start-ups, there were more and more incentives to settle in Mannheim. The plans for the new use of the former American military bases created a positive spirit of optimism in the city. And Mr Kurz always keeps cultural diversity in mind and tries to do justice to all interest groups. Although Mannheim is home to more people with immigrant backgrounds than many other German cities, the city is particularly peaceful and a place where all citizens can feel at home. Thank you for considering my vote for Mr Kurz.
Nominated by Charles L., outside Germany:
I have known Mayor Kurz for over 10 years and collaborated with the city of Mannheim extensively.
I have been impressed by his foresight in a number of areas. Already 20 years ago he understood that a sensitive cultural perspective is crucial in finding a way to bring the diverse communities together in a practical way in the city. He understood already then that also the creative and cultural industries are also a vital way of regenerating areas in the city. The Jungbusch initiative has revitalized a difficult area of the city it is exemplary. His integrated approach is now regarded as a European model copied elsewhere not only in bringing a major educational facility to Jungbusch the Pop Academy but also in setting up major employment initiatives.
Secondly, he has been a leader in incorporating and embedding the SDGs in all of Mannheim’s city planning. Not many cities have been this determined and this successful. Mayor Kurz makes things happen he ‘walks the talk’.
Thirdly, his chairmanship of the Global Parliament of Mayors has revealed an energy that has put cities at the forefront in dealing with the major challenges of our time. Again his handling of the Covid crisis has revealed his capacities to being mayors from across the world to tackle joint problems.
Lastly, his focus on social justice and concern to address the polarization we are increasingly witnessing shows that cities can make a difference. So it is with pleasure that I nominate Mayor Peter Kurz,
Nominated by Yona Y (Mayor, retired), outside Germany:
Mannheim and Haifa are cities of about equal size. However, they have similarities beyond number of inhabitants. Both cities are multicultural and are characterized by tolerance toward foreigners, those who think differently, and those with different beliefs. During Dr. Kurz’s time in office, this tradition has been put to the test with two difficult challenges, the integration of immigrants from Eastern European EU member states, and the handling of the refugee situation.
I have known Mayor Dr. Kurz since we signed the city partnership agreement, preceded by years of school partnership, as a highly intelligent mayor, involved in every detail. Mannheim has not only changed outwardly during his tenure. The number and scale of jobs in the city increased rapidly. Mannheim, which was considered a typical medium-sized industrial city, also became a cultural metropolis. At the same time, its appearance changed drastically for the better.
Dr. Kurz deserves praise and recognition for the way he involves his citizens in his work and vision, as well as for his practical, well thought-out actions, like the mixed reuse of the large conversion areas, the above-ground bunker that was transformed to become the city archive, and much more.
Dr. Kurz intensified and promoted the city partnership with Haifa and, at the same time, tried to expand its influence on Israeli-Palestinian relations.
He is in, all respects, a mayor any city would be lucky to have, and, at the same time, a colleague whose advice and assistance has always been available. I wish him all the best and continued success in his office.
Nominated by Ege Y., outside Germany:
I would like to vote for Mayor Peter Kurz for the World Mayor Prize, having witnessed some of his outstanding work for localizing the Sustainable Development Goals and his championing of art and culture in the sustainable urbanization process. Mannheim's leadership in the UNESCO Creative Cities for Music Network, specifically through the Enjoy Jazz and More Festival, has been an inspiration to bring together artists and thinkers from a variety of backgrounds.
Nominated by Dr Konrad H., Mannheim:
I have heard the nomination of Dr Peter Kurz. I will support this- my name and adress you will find here.
The last ten years he was open minded for new devellopment in former military ground (project franklin), older parts of town with a lot of problems (immigration, poverty) and now covid. He always look for ressources of civil society, for equity and equality of the different groups of town and new process of work( founder of a company for devellopment of towns)- all the time exchange of experience is important for him. I organized a german french debate on social problems in town) His vision is grounded on solidarity.
Nominated by Prof Eric C., outside Germany:
I do support the nomination of Mayor Peter Kurz, Mannheim, Germany. He is a very dedicated mayor of his city, being at the lead of the complex management of the pandemic in a city with some very densely populated areas end a very mixed population.
But Mayor Kurz is also the chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors, mobilizing for empowering cities in a situation were global governance has been absent, national governments managing their territory and cities not having enough competences to really intervene were the crisis was mist present: in densely populated urban contexts. The GPM has organized international webinars, made up post-covid road map and organises solidarity with mayors and cities in the global south not having te necessary means and support to tackle the crisis. Mayor Kurz is also very active in Eurocities and also in. UCLG and the Task force working for the UN and preparing a more multi scalar governance of the world system. Moreover Mayor Kurz is involved in global intellectual debates at the level of Habitat and World Urban Forum.
It is important to select a mayor operating at two levels: good leadership in his city and involvement in global networking in favor of empowerment of cities
Nominated by Robert K. (City Architect), outside Germany:
I have known Mayor Kurz since shortly before he was elected. In my work for the City of Haifa, I collaborated with him closely in developing Mannheim’s partnership with Haifa. The contact between the two cities started with a school partnership and is both longstanding and multifaceted. During this time, I got to know Mayor Kurz both personally and in his official capacity.
On my frequent visits to Mannheim (sometimes 2-3 times a year), Mayor Kurz always took me on a tour of the ever-changing city. There were no questions he could not answer. No building he did not know the details about, or traffic connections he could not explain. No project still on paper that he could not describe.
Mannheim’s cityscape has changed completely during Mayor Kurz’s time in office. The city is much cleaner now. Mayor Kurz has also found innovative solutions for newly developed areas, turning former military barracks into mixed use spaces. This is particularly impressive for me as a city builder.
Mayor Kurz places real value on citizen participation and transparency, engaging residents on issues including the Federal Garden Show. He also invites 9,000 citizens every January to a new year's reception where he presents the events of the past year in detail, and lays out his vision for the year ahead.
Mayor Kurz has made Mannheim a welcoming place for immigrants. His response to the arrival of refugees in 2015 and 2016 was exemplary, as is his ongoing work to integrate immigrants.
Dr Kurz’s focus on the wellbeing of his city is not limited to Mannheim alone. He has a much broader vision, thinking about the state and national level as well, for example in efforts to establish cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.
He is the model of an intelligent, highly-educated, resourceful, and well-informed mayor who puts the welfare of Mannheim first.
Nominated by Emmanuel W., outside Germany:
My name is Emmanuel W. and I am Head of Creative Development at the Jerusalem Season of Culture/Mekudeshet in Israel and musician. I have collaborated strategically with the city of Mannheim and as an artist since 2015. Ever since then I have seen with admiration and participated in incredible projects, conferences and artistic creations that exemplify Mr. Kurz's incredible vision, drive and leadership for diversity, innovation and inclusion through art and entrepreneurship. I have seen during the pandemic albite from afar how his response has been at the forefront to support and protect the citizens of Mannheim while also to support infrastructures of culture sector and activity. He is truly a visionary as a mayor and an inspiring person.
Nominated by Drew D. (Mayor) Canada:
Hello from the City of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
I am writing today, on behalf of the City of Windsor and in support of the Mayor of Mannheim, Dr. Peter Kurz, who is nominated for the 2021 World Mayor Prize. In 1980, the City of Mannheim in the Rhine-Neckar Region of Baden-Wurttemberg Germany and the City of Windsor joined together in recognition of the international friendship and understanding of the social, cultural and economic ties between our two communities.
Our Sister City relationship is of great value to us. Windsor boasts a a strong and established German community, and our relationship with Mannheim has helped promote co-operation and exchange of ideas between us. We have visited one another’s communities, and Windsor has welcomed individuals from Mannheim into volunteer internships and professional development exchanges at the City, and at the student level with exchange programs at the University of Windsor, one of our core educational institutions.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet and work directly with Mayor Kurz on several occasions. I have been impressed with his vision, strong leadership style, and with the tremendous progress he has led in Mannheim in the areas of economic development, education, and arts and culture. He understands the citizens he represents, and he is focused on growth and prosperity for all. I look forward to continuing to find ways to connect our two communities, to celebrate our similarities and differences, and to create opportunties to share new, important cultural experiences and exchanges alongside Mayor Kurz an individual who is very much deserving of the World Mayor Prize.
Nominated by Prof Udo T., Mannheim:
To whom it may concern,
• Peter Kurz has been very active to support the 17 SDGs of the UN and he included it in the process of change within the City of Mannheim.
• Already in Spring 2020 he was able to develop further partnerships between twin cities in terms of masks, medical devices etc. to support each other.
• Longstanding actions in terms of culture & business (night mayor for the entertainment scene) and in terms of start ups.
Nominated by Dr Ingo S., outside Germany:
I would like to stress my impression that Mayor Kurz (Mannheim) is doing an extraordinary job by pointing out three initiatives I remember from my time as the director of Goethe-Institut Mannheim (until 02/2020) and beyond:
• Mannheim used the SDG’s strategically and implemented them in the local political strategy
• Mannheim supported the (alternative) nightlife scene by appointing Germany’s first Night Mayor
• Mannheim cared about decentralized vaccination centers in disadvantaged districts to overcome a social divide
Nominated by Dr Rolf H., Germany:
Mayor Dr. Kurz nominated for the World Mayor Prize:
• Adressing social imbalances in health care by the City of Mannheim
• Though the german system of health insurance system guarantees a uniform access for the entire population to the care system, the outcomes in Mannheim showed a lagging participation of minority groups. Due to barriers in information and communication the health care system is not utilized in an appropriate manner.
• This had to be addressed!
• Mayor Dr. Kurz of Mannheim had the brilliant idea to establish a network of native speakers as “Mediators in health care” (“Gesundheitsmediatoren”) especially for the migrant families in his township. By qualifying and certifying a group of volunteers as go-betweens for minority groups, the orientation in and utilization of the very complex german system of health care was improved decisively!
• For his initiative to a better access to health care for migrants I support the nomination of Mayor Dr. Kurz for the World Mayor Prize.
Nominated by Marie-Luise D., Mannheim:
Dear Sir or Madam, I´d like to cheer for Mayor OB Dr. Kurz from Mannheim for the World Mayor this year.
He repeatedly demonstrates his qualities in leading a city, on the one hand to economic success, especially by focusing on and promoting start-ups, and on the other hand to integrate long-term values such as climate protection and diversity into everyday political life. Especially the focus on cultural city life, e.g. through the implementation of the night mayor, always inspires me as a citizen and makes my stay in Mannheim worth living. Thanks for your consideration.
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