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Faculty Research Advances Global Mayor’s Network

Author: Chrystie F. Swiney, Georgetown Global Cities Initiative Doctoral Fellow 


A delegation of Georgetown faculty and researchers traveled to Durban, South Africa to support the annual meeting of the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM).  Hosted on the southern coast of the African continent, the summit reflected the rising ambition of mayors to unite not simply for the purpose of exchanging best practices amongst themselves, but to push for their active involvement in the shaping and implementing of global policies.   


Not only are cities proving capable of acting efficiently to solve our shared global challenges, but they are proving themselves uniquely adept at doing so.  Faculty members Professor Sheila Foster and Dr. Rebecca Katz responded to this opportunity by presenting research that recognizes the strategic role of city leadership in the making, shaping, and implementing of policies and practices which advance global agendas. 


With support from the Georgetown Global Cities Initiative (GGCI), Georgetown faculty have been instrumental in shaping and advancing the GPM agenda over the last three years.  The 2019 GPM summit, the fourth such gathering, was entitled “A Decade of Change: Shaping Multi-level Governance on a Global Scale.” It brought together mayors, researchers and representatives of other international city networks from around the globe to discuss and debate three issues that currently confront most cities around the world: security, migration and public health. Two American Mayors who participated in the Mayors Forum event, Mayor Nan Whaley (Dayton, Ohio) and Mayor Elizabeth Kautz (Burnsville, MN), which was co-hosted by the GCCI in January of 2018 at Georgetown, also attended the 2019 GPM Summit in Durban.   


Professor Sheila Foster (Georgetown Law Center and McCourt School of Public Policy) serves as chair of the GPM’s Advisory Council and played a foundational role in organizing the summit agenda.   Professor Foster, when asked to reflect on the relationship between Georgetown and the GPM, responded:


"The relationship between Georgetown and the GPM is stronger than ever, illustrated by the presence of our researchers at the Durban convening and our role in shaping the agenda of the organization. Mayors from cities around the world are looking for innovative ways to address the myriad of challenges they face and are interested in the state of the art knowledge on issues like migration, pandemic preparation, and reducing violence while respecting the human rights of its inhabitants.  Georgetown is on the cutting edge of so much of this research and will continue to be an invaluable resource for Mayors in the GPM."


Dr. Rebecca Katz (Georgetown Medical Center and Georgetown Center for Global Health, Science and Security) is an expert on public health preparedness and health diplomacy and successfully positioned the municipal vaccination coverage of measles as a key outcome in the final declaration.  According to Dr. Katz, who played a key role in the 2019 Summit in Durban:


“The GPM is an important gathering of mayors.  We have been privileged to work with these mayors on the health track and were delighted and encouraged that the mayors unanimously adopted critical resolutions related to infectious disease, including a commitment to 90% vaccination coverage for measles within their cities and subnational implementation of the International Health Regulations.  This action will save lives.”


The GGCI Doctoral Fellow Chrystie Swiney (Government Department) was instrumental in drafting and editing the final Declaration throughout the summit on behalf of the GPM Secretariat.  And senior Research Associate Matt Boyce (Georgetown Center for Global Health, Science and Security) worked to finalize the measles resolution during the event.  Together, the Georgetown team worked to promote and support the GPM’s rising role in global governance, and more specifically, to ensure that the 2019 Summit was a success.  


This three-day parliamentary process culminated in the 2019 Durban Declaration, which committed the participating mayors to three core goals: 1) to adopt inclusive and non-discriminatory policies toward migrants, including those policies contained in the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees; 2) to reduce violence within their cities by 50% by the year 2030; and 3) to achieve at least 90% measles vaccination coverage in their 12-month- old population.  The full text of the Declaration can be accessed here. 


The GPM is an international forum for mayors to convene on a regular basis in order to debate, draft, and affirm shared urban policies and agendas.  Structured as a parliament, the organization was originally envisioned as a platform for cities to formally participate in global governance, and in so doing, help to democratize international policy-making. Headquartered in the Hague, the GPM has grown more robust in a few short years.  The GCCI is excited to continue offering its support to the GPM’s ongoing evolution and rise. 

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