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After announcing that the Cities of Chicago and Paris would co-host a worldwide mayoral forum in Chicago on March 13, 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo today announced that 19 mayors spanning five continents, 12 countries and who represent 45 million people will attend the forum. The event, which is co-hosted by World Business Chicago and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, is designed to foster an international conversation about the future of urban waterways.
"The Chicago River and the Seine have defined our history, but they are also our future - economically, environmentally and recreationally. And we are not alone,” said Mayor Emanuel, who serves on the board of directors of the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Cities Initiative. “This forum will allow mayors from around the world to exchange ideas and solutions on mixed-use development projects around our waterways to generate economic, environmental and social benefits for our cities.”
As mayors of major cities worldwide consider how to drive economic opportunity, create new public spaces and find more environmentally sustainable uses for aging infrastructure, they are increasingly turning to the development of urban waterways. To harness the power of that movement, a number of government officials will gather in Chicago on March 13, including officials from five continents:
"In Paris, we have pedestrianised the banks of the river Seine, creating a unique space for Parisians and Paris lovers to enjoy these iconic parts of our city," said Paris Mayor Hidalgo, who is the Chair of C40 Cities. "The Urban Waterways Forum will bring global mayors together to share ideas and drive bold actions to make our cities more attractive and healthier. As the C40 Chair, I have seen first hand just how much can be achieved to tackle air pollution and lead the fight against climate change, when cities work together."
The forum will feature two discussions. The first will focus on economic opportunity and will be moderated by Bruce Katz, the inaugural centennial scholar at the Brookings Institution. This session will focus on innovative ways cities are approaching economic development with an eye on nontraditional uses of their waterways and how issues of social equity play into these efforts. The second will focus on environmental protection, and will be moderated by Mark Watts, the Executive Director of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. This session will concentrate on projects around the world utilizing waterways to push environmental efforts critical to cities in the 21st century. Jeanne Gang, Founding Principal of Studio Gang and Anders Bringdal, Founder & CEO of SeaBubbles, will also participate in the second discussion.
Urban waterways – whether on rivers, lakes, seas or oceans – have always been natural centers of gravity. For thousands of years, cities around the world were built around bodies of water, first because they are a critical resource and later because they sustain trade and commerce. Transportation and manufacturing have evolved and the old industrial waterways that turned into unused land are again ripe for new design, development and purpose.
Completed and planned waterways redevelopment projects are underway in Chicago, Paris and cities around the world that elevate the questions with which global city leaders are grappling as they prioritize their investments.
In Chicago, the recently extended 1.25 mile Riverwalk and the completion of a fourth boat house along the Chicago River demonstrates the Mayor's commitment to increase access to and recreational opportunities on the river, as outlined in both his Building on Burnham plan and Our Great Rivers, a forward looking action agenda for Chicago's three rivers.
This forum will provide mayors the opportunity to exchange ideas and solutions on mixed-use development projects so that waterfront land can be activated to simultaneously generate direct and indirect economic, environmental and social benefits for the city as a whole. Mayors Emanuel and Hidalgo announced the Forum would be held in December during the C40 Mayors Summit 2016 in Mexico City.
About World Business Chicago
World Business Chicago is a public-private, non-profit partnership that drives inclusive economic growth and job creation, supports business, and promotes Chicago as a leading global city.
About the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices, conduct independent research, and engage the public to explore ideas that will shape our global future. The Council is committed to bringing clarity and offering solutions to issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.