President of the Renew Europe Group in the European Committee of the Regions (Renew Europe CoR) and Mayor of Saint-Omer François Decoster was awarded the World Public Service Award for services to his community – locally, regionally and in Europe. Matús Vallo, Mayor of Bratislava, won the 2021 World Mayor Future Award for his goals and projects to transform the Slovak capital into a green, compassionate city.
The London-based City Mayors Foundation announced the winners of the 2021 World Mayor Prize and Awards on 14 September. The bi-annual Honours recognise the achievements of outstanding mayors since 2004. This year, both Decoster, and Vallo have been rewarded for their work with the prize for, respectively, World Public Service and Future Award.
Decoster wins ‘Public Service Award’
Tann vom Hove, Senior Fellow at the City Mayors Foundation said:
“François Decoster is a local politician who serves his community as mayor, regional vice-president and as a member of the European Committee of the Regions. In Brussels he speaks as the representative of a small city with an illustrious history and, back in Saint-Omer, he applies examples of good practice gathered from other European mayors.”
In the World Mayor essay about François Decoster, the author describes the Mayor of Saint-Omer as a passionate European with deep local roots. He became a local councillor at the age of 24, and 17 years later was elected Mayor of his home town. Decoster studied at the College of Europe in Bruges and travelled extensively while remaining engaged with Saint-Omer.
Asked during an interview for World Mayor why he entered politics, François Decoster said that even as a child he tried to commit himself to his community. Answering questions on the environment and sustainability, Decoster mentions Saint-Omer’s ‘one birth, one tree programme’ as part of which a tree is planted for every birth. Nominating François Decoster for World Mayor Honours, several proposers mention that no small city (population 15,000) plays such a pivotal role in national, European and global networks.
Matús Vallo wins Future Award
Even before Matús Vallo was elected Mayor of Bratislava in 2018, he, together with 76 experts on urban planning and development, began work on his Bratislava Plan. The Plan, which was presented to the public during the 2018 election campaign, aims to provide high quality public spaces, sustainable forms of transport, with an emphasis on public transport and cycling, as well as the provision of affordable rental housing.
In a public interview for World Mayor, Mayor Vallo was asked about his priorities for Bratislava. He named improvements to public spaces and dealing with car traffic as two of them.
Matús Vallo, Mayor of Bratislava said:
“My wish is that people feel comfortable in high quality public spaces like in other European cities. I think, that even small changes can have a big impact on urban spaces.”
Vallo has started a number of schemes to encourage people to switch from cars to public transport, including the introduction of a 25% discount for regular users. But he recognises that people will only make the switch if public transport is reliable and safe. Electro and shared mobility will also be promoted by the Mayor.
In the interview, Mayor Vallo was also asked about the Pact of Free Cities, which Bratislava formed with Warsaw, Prague and Budapest. The Mayor said that the Pact promotes values such as democracy, freedom, tolerance, and the protection of civic rights.
Mayor Vallo noted:
“The initiative and its goals have become very popular and well-known worldwide. We have been receiving requests from cities and mayors from all over the world who want to join the Pact and support this value-based project.”
On the occasion of the 2021 World Mayor Awards, a special extended edition of the Letter from Brussels podcast is now also available, profiling two winning mayors of the Liberal Mayors Network: Renew Europe President François Decoster of Saint-Omer and Renew Europe member Matúš Vallo of Bratislava, their cities and the achievements that led the jury to award them the World Public Service award and the World Mayor Future award respectively. As always, this episode also brings little known stories about the city of Brussels itself.
The 2021 World Mayor Prize was awarded jointly to the mayors of Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Grigny (France). The World Mayor Project was conceived to increase public awareness of and engagement in local government. Former Renew Europe President, Bart Somers won the 2016 World Mayor award and Vice-President Jasna Gabrič was awarded 2018 World Mayor of Distinction. The international Prize and Awards, first presented in 2004, aim to raise the profiles of outstanding mayors worldwide as well as to honour those who have managed the affairs of their communities solely for the benefit of their fellow citizens. They will also have developed a vision to urban living and working that is relevant to towns and cities across the world. Candidates for the World Prize and Awards are nominated by the public, mostly by fellow citizens of the mayors.
👏Our President & Mayor of Saint-Omer @fdecoster & @matusvallo, Mayor of Bratislava, win World Public Service Award, Future Award from @World_Mayor. More 👇 https://t.co/puv93VS3Mw pic.twitter.com/NmJQivAhKZ— Renew Europe CoR (@RenewEuropeCoR) September 14, 2021