Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced 21 finalists for its annual Mayors Challenge, a competition to reward cities which propose the most creative and transferable solutions to intractable social problems such as public health, unemployment and transportation. The finalists were selected from a pool of 155 applicants from across Europe.
From the 21 finalists, a winner will be announced this fall, with the winner receiving €5 million to develop their proposal, and 4 runners-up receiving €1 million each. Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former Mayor of New York City commented "We need city leaders to continually reach for innovative new ways to address urban challenges – and then share what’s working with the world. That’s what the Mayors Challenge is all about."
Read on after the break for more on the challenge and the list of 21 finalists
Reflecting on the entries, the head of government innovation for Bloomberg Philanthropies James Anderson said: "While the ideas are very diverse, we identified key themes. The ideas tended toward networked, distributed solutions as opposed to costly centralized ones. There was a lot of interest in citizen engagement as both a means and end."
The 21 finalists are:
The proposal from Amsterdam was to tackle youth unemployment by developing a game which would teach 21st century skills to those with vocational qualifications that cannot find work, and connect them to a network of employers.
The economic crisis has had a devastating effect in Greece and created a number of problems which need addressing. The proposal by Athens is to create an online platform which encourages civic engagement among citizens, in the hope that a collaboration between government and citizens will improve these issues.
By 2040, it is predicted that a quarter of Barcelona's population will be over 65. To address the challenges of an aging population, Barcelona has proposed implementing both digital and low-tech strategies to create a "Trust Network" of family, friends, neighbors, social workers, and volunteers for each elderly resident.
Another city struggling with youth unemployment, Bologna has proposed to introduce entrepreneurship and skills education for students aged 6-16.
To tackle the problem of obesity among its citizens, Bristol has proposed to increase access to healthy food by encouraging business opportunities for those that sell it. This will have the added benefit of encouraging a new market in the city.
Brno faces a challenge in both a perceived and real reduction of safety, owing in part to large housing developments. The city proposes to reintroduce concierges in multi-family buildings to encourage social cohesion.
Cardiff wants to introduce sports theory into the task of citizenship to encourage economic development, encouraging teams of people to make incremental increases in productivity by using the attitude of "1% improvements in everything you do".
Florence aims to create economic development by encouraging the once-thriving artisan community, and using the 40% of commercial space that is currently empty to do so.
Gdansk proposes to increase civic engagement and reassure its residents by building a new online platform to meaningfully engage citizens in the city's government.
In response to severe budget cuts from the national government, Kirklees aims to offset the damage caused by encouraging the local 'sharing economy', with a new online platform that helps people borrow or trade their unwanted possessions.
Kraków proposes to introduce an integrated payment system across all public transport to encourage its use and promote environmental sustainability.
Lisbon's aim is to harness the kinetic energy of the city's traffic to generate electricity, and create a more environmentally sustainable city.
London wants to offer its citizens new tools to monitor their own health, giving them the motivation and awareness to choose a better lifestyle.
Madrid proposes a new, multi-stakeholder organization that will encourage and reward entrepreneurs who propose innovative ways of generating sustainable energy for the city.
Shaerbeek wants to use digital mapping techniques to show its citizens the benefits of energy-saving upgrades, promoting sustainability and saving residents money.
Sofia wants to launch a campaign allowing residents to shape their city for the better, by engaging residents and collecting suggestions for improvements to public space.
Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
To stem the tide of its 'brain drain' Stara Zagora proposes economic incentives for young entrepreneurs who are prepared to stay in the city.
Stockholm wants to encourage sustainability by creating, along with its residents, 'Biochar', a substance which encourages tree growth, purifies water runoff and sequesters carbon.
The Hague wants to encourage civic participation by allowing residents to choose where there taxes go with a new online platform.
To improve accessibility to visually impaired residents, Warsaw proposes beacons across the city which communicate with smartphone apps and help the blind navigate.
York plans to overhaul its procurement procedures to encourage efficiency in government.