Going local in the fight against inequality

The OECD Champion Mayors Initiative unites municipal leaders from around the world who are eager to tackle inequality.

What's the issue?

Rising inequality continues to carve greater distance between the rich and the poor. Inequality affects individual well-being and harms economic growth as a whole. It creates conditions under which life outcomes are disproportionately determined by socio-economic status, gender, age or the places where people live.

Cities bring together resources, services and opportunities, but they also intensify inequalities and can perpetuate poverty. For example, income inequalities tend to be higher in cities compared to national averages. With more than half of people, jobs and economic activity in OECD countries already concentrated in cities - and 70% of the world population projected to live in cities within 30 years, urgent local action is needed.

How are we addressing it?

Many municipal governments recognize the need to step up to address the challenge of inequalities in an urban context and are mobilising to bring about change. As part of this momentum, in 2016 the OECD launched Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth, a coalition of mayors dedicated to advancing a more inclusive global agenda. By exchanging directly with other local leaders worldwide, mayors share strategies and experiences in making cities more inclusive.

In particular, the coalition is looking at advancing local policy innovations in education, labour markets and skills, housing and the urban environment, and infrastructure and public services to ensure that none of their urban residents are left behind. Mayors are comparing challenges and solutions, and learning from one another.

We made a commitment to plant a tree per inhabitant to celebrate the 300 years of Quillota. Quillota will plant 100,000 trees in the coming years as a contribution to climate change. We have achieved all these things thanks to this Initiative and these meetings.

Luis Mella Mayor of Quillota, Chile

What’s the impact?

More than 60 mayors have joined the initiative thus far, representing cities from megacities to smaller towns, joined by supporting institutions, alliances and foundations.

The coalition, among other initiatives, is helping municipal leaders gain greater insights and analysis on rising inequalities, monitor material living standards and broader well-being, and design local policy packages that promote equity and growth. At the heart of the exchange is the OECD’s Multidimensional Approach to Inclusive Growth, going beyond income to see how people are faring in other areas of life, including jobs and health.

We learn from each other. For example, we learned from Singapore on the social renewal of old buildings. We liked their model of turning forums and old football stadiums into new living environments. We use this as an example of how we could do our own work in terms of transforming.

Ahmed Aboutaleb Mayor of Rotterdam, Netherlands
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