8 October, Istanbul – The 1st edition of the Megacities Summit took place on 8th of October in Istanbul, Türkiye. The event gathered mayors, and representatives from megacity municipalities as well as ambassadors and consul generals of the countries where megacities are located with an invite only shortlist of guest non-megacity municipality mayors and representatives.
The day-long summit was co-organised by Metropolis – The Global Network of Major Cities and Metropolitan Area. Held at the newly renovated and historic ArtIstanbul Feshane building on the Golden Horn, it was inaugurated by its co-chairs Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Metropolis President as well as Bogotá Mayor Claudia Lopez.
The four different panels explored complementary aspects of the main theme of “Sustainable Finance for Affordable Megacity Services.” The aim of the summit was firstly to exchange challenges as well as good practices in city services and secondly, to discuss innovative ways of approaching financing for megacity projects. Based on a roundtable format, assigned lead cities presented good practices from their respective municipalities to spark the conversation. The event included mayors from Bogotá, Baghdad, Florence, and Ramallah in addition to representatives from cities such as Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Lahore, São Paulo, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, and Dhaka. Florence Mayor Dairo Nardella and Professor Jeffrey Sachs joined as keynote speakers, whereas Charles Landry, author and international adviser on the future of cities, and Craig Cohon, climate activist and founder of Walk It Back, inspired the panels with their innovative ideas.
In his opening remarks Mayor İmamoğlu focused on why scale matters. “Istanbul–which is unlike any other city in Turkey with its population exceeding 16 million–more closely resembles cities like Bogotá, Lahore and Guangzhou with its risks, opportunities, problems and solutions. That is why we should talk about our common problems and be in cooperation and solidarity for their solutions,” İmamoğlu said.
The co-chairs expressed their common belief in the revival of community ties within megacities. Mayor İmamoğlu defined Istanbul Municipality’s approach to do so as “solidarity municipalism,” whereas Mayor Lopez described Bogotá Municipality’s method as “care municipalism.”
In the light of recent developments, both mayors felt drawn to address the abrupt spike of violence in the Middle East region. They collectively voiced their wish for an end to the violence between Israel and Palestine. The Ramallah Mayor Issa Kassis present in the roundtable expressed his thoughts and grievances as well.
At the closing panel, a Co-Chairs’ Statement was circulated amongst the delegates outlining the highlights of the summit. During that discussion São Paulo offered to host the second edition of the Megacities Summit in 2024. Not only will the Megacities Summit lead to a creation of a special initiation within Metropolis, but the summit is expected to be an annual event.