In the 21st century, more than half the world’s population will live in cities and UNESCO is taking this into account in its strategy and permanent quest for new partnerships. With this prize, the Organization is seeking to develop such new partnership with cities, mayors and their staffs. Mayors and municipal personnel, with their vast networks of social actors, are the guarantors and defenders of the daily exercise of citizenship, good neighbourliness and of all the values and rights UNESCO promotes.
The Prize, under its old name, was awarded for the first time during the International Congress on Cities and Education for a Culture of Peace (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1996). It honoured mayors from Latin America and the Caribbean, notably Gloria Isabel Cuartas Montoya, Mayor of Apartado, Colombia, and an honourable mention was awarded to the mayor of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and a special mention was given to Santiago, Chile.
This year’s prizes will honour the Arab states, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe (56 candidates to which 35 Latin American candidates of the previous round are to be added). The laureates have been designated by UNESCO’s Director-General on the recommendation of regional juries. Each winning city will receive US$25,000 to help them establish regional inter-city co-operation networks and a data bank on their most innovative initiatives (*).
In the Arab region, the Prize is to be awarded to Tunis, Tunisia and its mayor, M’Hamed Ali Bouleymen, who is trying to fight the concrete jungle that makes city dwelling unhealthy for children, notably by creating parks and gardens. A special mention will be awarded to Mustafa Abdel Nabi Natsche, Mayor of Hebron, Autonomous Palestinian Territories, for his effort to establish peaceful coexistence among the different communities of his city.
In the Africa region Solomon Chirume Tawengwa, Mayor of Harare, Zimbabwe, is honoured for an initiative in favour of street children and unemployed youth, aiming to help them return to school and prepare them for employment in the service sector. A special mention will be given to Johannesburg, South Africa, and its mayor, Isaac Dank Mogase, for his commitment to combat exclusion by creating a Junior Council which is operating in close co-operation with the municipal team.
The Prize for Asia and the Pacific will be awarded to Katherine Gordon, Mayor of Olongapo, Philippines, who has inspired programmes to prevent urban violence and develop solidarity, while implementing policies to reduce pollution by regulating industrial activity and encouraging the use of public transportation. A special mention will be given to Bob Harvey, Mayor of Vaitakere, New Zealand, for his original initiatives concerning the natural and urban environments. He has helped to develop a new sense of citizenship in his city: notably through the creations of associations working directly with Maori tribes and making them the Haitiaki (guardians) of the city’s resources.
The Prize for Europe will recompense Zsolt Páva, Mayor of Pecs, Hungary, in tribute to his struggle against all forms of exclusion and discrimination, especially his programme for refugees and refugee-education aiding Hungarians from Romania and victims of the war in the former Yugoslavia. A special mention will be given to Saint-Denis, France, and its mayor Patrick Braouezec, in recognition of his efforts to repair the social fabric and restore everyday solidarity in his town.
The Prize giving ceremony will take place in the Town Hall of Stockholm, in the Blue Hall, which is also used for the Nobel Prizes.