Both the President of the Renew Europe Group in the European Committee of the Regions (Renew Europe CoR) François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, and Renew Europe CoR member Matús Vallo, Mayor of Bratislava, have been nominated for the longlist of the 2021 World Mayor Prize. The City Mayors Foundation hands out this bi-annual prize to a Mayor whose leadership during the coronavirus pandemic has provided their communities with protection and assurance, making their cities stronger, fairer and greener.
During the past few weeks Mayor Vallo has received several nominations from across Europe which earned him a spot on the longlist for the 2021 World Mayor Prize. As the World Mayor Project values public participation, citizens of Bratislava and beyond are now invited to support Mayor Vallo’s candidacy by adding their testimonials and comments to the World Mayor website. The same applies to François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, who was nominated by 2018 Mayor of Distinction, Jasna Gabric, Mayor of Trbovlje (Slovenia).
Both Mayors have earned their place on the longlist for a variety of reasons. During the COVID-19 crisis, Mayor Vallo took measures focused on an often-forgotten segment of the population: the homeless. With around 4.000 homeless people living in the city, Mayor Vallo prepared a quarantine town with support of professional, medical and social staff to provide adequate assistance to one of the most vulnerable groups of the population. He also focused on seniors with a senior phone line and a ‘help your neighbour initiative’.
François Decoster, in his approach, made sure no citizen group was left behind, organising food service deliveries at home for the elderly and holding regular Facebook live information sessions before, during and after lockdown. He also supplied each and every one of his citizens – even the ones who are not on the electoral rolls or are not taken into account in the census – with a free face mask.
Both mayors also took action and put their efforts into making their cities fairer, greener and stronger. Some of these actions are listed below:
- Working on an inclusive city he supports young refugees, as his town was the only town in that region of France with a center for underage refugees, integrating them through sports such as cricket, to fight many preconceptions, as featured in the New York Times.
- To bring his city back in shape after this pandemic and ensure its bright future, he launched the local recovery plan or “Plan de Relance“, showing energy and commitment to this cause, with an emphasis on three main objectives: ecological transition, digital developments and the upgrade of local heritage.
- François Decoster also works and thinks as a real European, bringing people together. One of his ideas he launched as member of the European Committee of the Regions and which he spearheaded in his home region in France is that of having “European Correspondents“, a network of volunteer correspondents who are all members of local municipal councils. They would bring Europe closer to the citizens and strengthen the links between the local level and the EU, integrating them more by disseminating correct and useful information about the European Union and making citizens aware of opportunities that could benefit them
- Launched the 10.000 trees initiative, a plan for systematic renewal and sustainability of plants and trees.
- Became a part of Climathon, to raise awareness of the climate crisis and to encourage the active involvement of residents in tackling it.
- Created a new position of ‘Night Mayor’, using mainly soft tools to manage nightlife in the city.
- Driving force behind the Pact of Free Cities, acting towards more cooperation. This initiative of founding cities Bratislava, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw looks to cooperate for EU lobbying for direct funding of cities, a green agenda and the promotion of the pact as a political statement of cities in favour of liberal democracy
These are but a few examples of the strong and energetic approach both Mayors have taken on for their cities, not only during these difficult times but also with a vision for beyond. Citizens or any other stakeholder who can testify to their actions are therefore invited to visit to the World Mayor website to support Renew Europe CoR members’ candidacies.