Front Page

Lyon, France: Webb Opens First Transatlantic Summit of Mayors
"The Twenty-First Century will be the Century of Cities," Conference President Emphasizes

By Kay Scrimger and Jubi Headley
April 17, 2000


"If the nineteenth century was the century of empires and the twentieth century the century of nation states, then the twenty-first century will be the century of cities," said Conference President and Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb, opening the historic first Transatlantic Summit of Mayors in Lyon, France, April 6-8.

Related Stories...
Conference of Mayors Concludes First Transatlantic Mayors Summit in Lyon, France with Commitment for Future Partnership (4/10/00)
Watch the Video
Read the Transcript
The Summit, created by Ambassador Felix G. Rohatyn, U. S. Ambassador to France, and J. Thomas Cochran, Conference of Mayors Executive Director, brought about thirty German, French, and U.S. Mayors together to discuss key issues of globalization and their impact on the world's cities. In Mayor Webb's words, "The century we have just entered will be the century of cities, reflecting a renewed faith in cities and a rediscovery of the vitality and richness that has long characterized our great urban centers.

"We are facing a new era, owing in large measure to a remarkable confluence of events as the forces of commerce, culture, technology, and political reconciliation create unprecedented opportunity for all our citizens," Mayor Webb said. "Our cities will be both the heart and soul of this historic and global transformation." And "globalization gives us new opportunities for partnership," he stressed.

Mayor Webb led The United States Conference of Mayors' ten-member mission, which joined with French and German counterparts in Lyon, France, April 6-8, for the historic first Transatlantic Summit of Mayors.

Genesis of the Transatlantic Summit of Mayors
The genesis of the first Transatlantic Summit of Mayors lay in a series of discussions between Ambassador Felix G. Rohatyn, U. S. Ambassador to France, and Conference of Mayors Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran, beginning in January 1999. At that time, Ambassador Rohatyn addressed the Conference's Winter Meeting and invited U.S. mayors to France in the spring of 2000 to participate in a conference devoted to globalization. Subsequently, Ambassador Rohatyn asked Ambassador John Kornblum, U. S. Ambassador to Germany, to support the idea of the Summit and to invite German mayors to the Summit.

According to Conference of Mayors Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran, "This Summit in Lyon is part of our CITIES/2000 effort, the Conference of Mayors' international response to the new millennium, designed to bring U.S. mayors together with their peers around the world in productive, creative exchanges.

"Through CITIES/2000, the Conference of Mayors has conducted successful exchanges in Africa – Senegal and Ghana in May 1999, Argentina in the spring 1999, Florence in the fall, 1999, Tokyo in the fall 1999; and now here in Lyon in April of 2000.

"We are deeply grateful to our good friend Ambassador Rohatyn for his ideas and involvement, which made this conference a reality. And we are appreciative of the work that Ambassador Kornblum has made to ensure the participation of German mayors in this meeting."

Ambassador Felix G. Rohatyn: "This Is the First Time Anything Like This Has Ever been Done."
"What a great privilege for me to be involved in this first Transatlantic Summit of Mayors," Ambassador Felix G. Rohatyn said. "This is the first time anything like this has been done," bringing together European mayors to address critical issues of globalization, he stressed.

Ambassador Rohatyn noted that nearly two decades of dealing with local government finances in New York City gave him the idea of convening the international Summit in Lyon. According to the Ambassador, participants in the Summit are "speaking the language of real problems." The mayors assembled here "clearly have a community of interests," Ambassador Rohatyn emphasized.

U.S. Delegation Members
In addition to Mayor Webb, the U.S. delegation included Mayors Victor H. Ashe of Knoxville, past President of the Conference of Mayors; H. Brent Coles of Boise, Conference Vice President; James A. Garner of Hempstead, Conference Trustee; Clarence Harmon of St. Louis; David W. Moore of Beaumont; Marc H. Morial of New Orleans, Chair, Advisory Board, Conference of Mayors; Donald L. Plusquellic of Akron; Susan Savage of Tulsa; Sharon Sayles Belton of Minneapolis; and J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director of the Conference of Mayors.

The Summit brought together mayors from three nations together to discuss the new problems, opportunities and challenges of globalization for cities in the twenty-first century. A second Summit is planned for next year in Berlin, to be followed by the third Transatlantic Summit in Washington, D.C.

French and German Mayors Participating in the Lyon Summit
French mayors participating in the Summit were Mayors Raymond Barre of Lyon and former prime minister of France, host mayor for the conference; Dominique Baudis of Toulouse; Jean-Marie Bockel of Mulhouse; Jean-Paul Delevoye of Bapaume; Michel Destot of Grenoble; Andre Gerin of Venissieux; Alain Juppe of Bordeaux and former French prime minister; Pierre Mauroy of Lille and former French prime minister; Jen-Pierre Sueur of Oleans; Michel Thiolliere of Saint Etienne; and Roland Ries of Strasbourg.

German mayors attending the Summit were Mayors Barbel Dieckmann of Bonn; Joachim Erwin of Dusseldorf; Norbert Gansel of Kiel; Arno Poker of Rostock; Wolfgang Schuster of Stuttgart, and Herbert Wagner of Dresden.

Far-Reaching, Critical Issues of Globalization
Key issues addressed at the summit included:

  • What are the economic and social impacts of globalization?
  • How should the city be managed in the context of change? What is the impact of globalization on urban management?
  • How are German, U.S., and French cities positioned to seize the opportunities in the globalization process?
  • How can the city achieve sustainable development within the context of global changes?
The Role of Mayors and Cities in Globalization
Boise Mayor Brent Coles: Cities are "Tipping Points," Propelling and Adapting to Profound Global Changes

Boise Mayor Coles emphasized how trade, education, and culture converge in cities, providing a "tipping point" to create ripples, waves, and finally tidal waves of profound changes on the globe.

Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries agreed, noting that the world is experiencing a "global speeding up of history."

Globalization Demands Attitude and Public Policy Changes: Mayors Plusquellic, Savage, and Sayles Belton
Akron Mayor Plusquellic pointed out that globalization's challenges demand an "attitude change" on the part of mayors. "We need to find mutual benefits in the outcomes of public policy-making," he said.

As an example of win/win strategies, Mayor Plusquellic cited his work in creating a tax-sharing plan between the central city of Akron and its suburbs, which provides two-way benefits to the participating governmental jurisdictions. "Cooperation and mutual benefit" are part of the attitude change that must occur in order to maximize the potential of globalization, he noted.

Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage pointed out that globalization is bringing about new ways of thinking about boundaries and the national sovereignty of nations. She noted that in Tulsa, for example, three Native-American tribes – sovereign nations – intersect her city's boundaries.

"Two elements to emphasize," in the global trends sweeping the world, Mayor Savage observed, are the explosive growth of the world's population, with more and more people migrating to our cities bringing an ever-growing variety of social and economic needs to be met, with a corresponding depletion of natural resources. We must devise ways to meet the socio-economic needs while being mindful of the necessity of preserving our natural resources, she noted.

Minneapolis Mayor Sayles Belton described the changes in her own city over the past several decades, as the percentage of people of color has increased from five percent to about 25 percent. "Over the past eight years," the new demographic pattern in Minnesota is an influx of migrant workers – illegal and undocumented. In addition, the national government recently made a decision to resettle 25,000 Somali and Ethiopian refugees in Minneapolis. These changes in immigration patterns have brought major pressures on city government. "In our city at this time, forty-seven different languages are spoken by children in our public schools," Mayor Sayles Belton said.

The city has responded to such demographic changes by adapting and changing – revising housing laws to accommodate new patterns of living of certain immigrants, recruiting additional Spanish-speaking individuals for police officers, engaging the role of the private sector and the universities, all building strategies that work for the future.

Dusseldorf Mayor Joachim Erwin discussed demographic changes in his city as a result of the war in Kosovo, with a number of immigrants entering his city and the resultant pressures on social services in his city administration.

Interdependence of Cities: Ambassador Rohatyn and Mayor Ashe
Ambassador Felix G. Rohatyn pointed out that the underpinning for the Summit was the interdependence of cities throughout the world. When a national economy suffers, he noted, cities are the first to suffer. If Europe does not do well economically, the United States will suffer an impact, and vice versa, he noted.

Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe underscored the theme of interdependence: "I have been struck today," he said, "by the fact that if we remove our language differences, we see that the issues we mayors face in common go across both continents and across all counties. Mayor Ashe pointed out the power and potential of the Internet – "The Internet will change society," he noted. The issue is "how to harness changes brought about by the Internet and make it serve people." Mayor Ashe also noted that it is much cheaper for him to fly to Europe than to San Francisco or to Seattle. New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial: "You Can't Be a Mayor Today Without Having Your Own Foreign Policy"

New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial observed, "You can't be a mayor today without having your own foreign policy. Mayors have to be more in tune with international political events than ever before."

Mayor Morial quoted the late Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill, who said, "All politics is local." "We need to revise that for the twenty-first century," Mayor Morial said, "to say that ‘All politics will be global.'"

Host Mayor Raymond Barre of Lyon noted the unavoidable openness of cities to the exterior – "the internationalization of cities is a reality." But he argued that global decentralization should not lead to uniformization of cities. "Cities need to safeguard their historical tradition," the characteristics that make them unique, he emphasized.

Mayor Coles urged mayors to understand our own strengths, regionally, nationally and internationally. "We must be engaged in regional strategies of smart growth and sustainability," he said. Globalization means that, "Mayors and cities may be more relevant than ever before. Let me recommend that in our next meetings that we share best practices regionally, nationally, and internationally."

Promotion and Marketing of the City Important to the Mayor's Role in Globalization: Mayors Garner and Moore
Hempstead Mayor James A. Garner described his city's socio-economic characteristics, including Hempstead's distinction as the radish capital of the world. He noted that in the last decade notable expansion of business and commerce has occurred in his city, along with a rapid growth in the number of Hispanic citizens, joining what is the largest community of African Americans on Long Island.

Beaumont Mayor David Moore noted his city's importance as an international port on a 50-mile long waterway that connects it with the Gulf of Mexico. In addition he noted Beaumont's commercial importance in terms of oil, tourism and agriculture. The city is a "natural and cultural crossroads," rich in history and offering the best of many worlds to visitors.

Mayor Moore stressed that as local leaders focus on international strategies, they must continue to develop strategies that engage and involve young people.

Mayors Are Increasingly International Emissaries for Their Cities: Mayor Clarence Harmon
St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon pointed out that he is "personally involved in the conduct of business in foreign markets" by his city. This is important to provide jobs for our citizens and markets for the products of the industries of our city, he stressed. He described a trade entity in St. Louis – the "St. Louis Development Corporation," which promotes small and medium businesses. Mayor Harmon noted his trade missions to Japan, China, and Mexico, for example, on behalf of his city. To facilitate trade, he has hired multi-lingual people, established liaison with Rotary International, and explored a variety of methods to increase the competitiveness of his city.

Mayor Webb described how he has traveled the world to persuade foreign airlines to set up operations in Denver's airport.
The U. S. Conference of Mayors: Diverse, Multi-Cultural Organization Focusing on Metro Economies, Best Practices: Executive Director Cochran Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran discussed the Conference of Mayors as an organization representing a highly diverse and multi-cultural variety of mayors and cities, with members from Puerto Rico to Washington State. We are a "big tent," he stressed. Mr. Cochran pointed out that the organization has recently engaged in an analysis of Metro Economies, a landmark report, which demonstrates that city and county officials play a strong and critical role on the national, international, political and economic scene.

He noted that if city and county metro economies were ranked with the economies of nations, 47 of the world's top 100 economies would be U.S. metropolitan areas. He pointed out that counties and cities are quickly overtaking many states' economic engines. It would be of interest to broaden our research from U.S. metropolitan areas to those in France and Germany, for example, he noted. Mr. Cochran also urged more background on the comparative power of mayors from nation to nation for subsequent Summits.

Mr. Cochran also stressed the emphasis at Conference of Mayors' meetings on sharing of Best Practices, and the resulting "joy" of having mayors trade solutions and lessons learned for critical urban challenges. He invited the French and German mayors at the table to learn more about the Conference of Mayors by visiting its Web Page on the Internet.

Mayor Wellington E. Webb Proposed Pre-Planning Session in Denver To Prepare for Berlin Transatlantic Summit of Mayors in 2001
At the conclusion of the Summit, Mayor Webb proposed a pre-planning meeting in Denver in the fall of 2000 to provide an opportunity to prepare for the next Transatlantic Summit in Berlin in 2001.

Return to Previous Page.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors

second_line

U.S. Mayor

Home Search jwelfley@usmayors.org

second_line