Manila, Butuan among top 50 champion cities in global Mayors Challenge

Published June 15, 2021, 4:59 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The cities of Manila and Butuan have been selected to the top 50 cities among over 600 cities worldwide by the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2021 Mayors Challenge.  Manila and Butuan were among the eight cities in Asia-Pacific which made it to the global 50 and the only two cities in Southeast Asia.

Other Asia-Pacific cities in the top 50 included Auckland (New Zealand), Daegu (South Korea), Pune (India), Rourkela (India), Taipei (Taiwan), and Wellington (New Zealand).

“We offer our congratulations to both Manila and Butuan for making it to the global 50. Out of 631 applications received by Bloomberg Philanthropies, 52 Philippine cities and municipalities submitted their entries, signaling high interest to develop their cities,” according to Liveable Cities Challenge Chairman Guillermo Luz. 

With the competition entering its second phase, Manila and Butuan will be granted the opportunity to enhance their proposals to compete for the final round of 15 winners. The top 15 will be granted awards of $1 million each plus free consultancy services to implement their projects and make them a reality. 

Ever since the competition launched, Liveable Cities Challenge Philippines, in partnership with the League of Cities of the Philippines, promoted the 2021 Mayors Challenge to Philippine cities nationwide through a series of virtual workshops. In partnership with Globe Telecom, Liveable Cities Challenge organized a virtual briefing with Bloomberg experts, Michael Odermatt and Eamon Nolan, and a Mentors’ Workshop with local multidisciplinary experts. Aside from the coaches that Bloomberg has provided, Liveable Cities Challenge also assembled a pool of mentors who volunteered to guide and help cities develop the best possible applications for submission to the competition. 

According to Luz, “We will continue to provide mentor support for both Manila and Butuan to help them get into the top 15 cities eligible for the $1 million prize.”

As a Mayors Challenge finalist, Butuan now advances to the four-month Champion Phase of the competition. 

From June through October, the 50 finalist cities will refine their ideas with technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its network of leading innovation experts.

15 of the 50 cities will ultimately win the grand prize, with each receiving $1 million and robust multi-year technical assistance to implement and scale their ideas. Grand Prize Winners will be announced in early 2022. 

Butuan proposes to create a catalytic mechanism along the agribusiness value chain ecosystem that will provide demand forecasts and create price prediction models linked to farmers’ planning of production.

“The pandemic has heightened our sense of food and nutrition insecurity. We felt the urgency to accelerate our city’s transformation from a net importer of vegetables to a net exporter. The I-ADAPT initiative radically improves the system of backward and forward linkages of resource and market accessibility of our agricultural sector,” said Butuan Mayor Ronnie Vicente C. Lagnada. 

“By doing this, we enable and empower our disadvantaged farmers and other value chain players,” he added.  

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. 

“These 50 finalists are showing the world that in the face of the pandemic’s enormous challenges, cities are rising to meet them with bold, innovative, and ambitious ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. 

“By helping these cities test their ideas over the coming months, we will have a chance to identify cutting-edge policies and programs that can allow cities to rebuild in ways that make them stronger and healthier, and more equal and more just,” he added.

The 50 Champion Cities submitted ideas addressing four of the most significant challenges borne of the pandemic: Economic Recovery & Inclusive Growth; Health & Wellbeing; Climate & Environment; and Good Governance & Equality.  Bloomberg Philanthropies challenged city leaders from all over the world to pitch their boldest and most transformative ideas developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cities with more than 100,000 residents were encouraged to submit their applications based on four  challenge themes: Health and Wellbeing, Climate and Environment, Economic recovery and Inclusive Growth, and Good governance and equality. The top 50 finalists of the competition will be coached by global experts and will be provided dedicated funding to test and refine their proposals from June – October 2021. After the Championship phase, 15 grand prize winners of the Mayors Challenge will be awarded $1 million each with additional technical support to implement and spread their breakthrough ideas.