The winners of the 2023 World Mayor Prize and Awards
Elke Kahr, Mayor of Graz, Austria, awarded the 2023 World Mayor Prize Tony Keats, Mayor of Dover, NL, Canada, given the 2023 World Mayor Community Award Stefan Fassbinder, Mayor of Greifswald, Germany, given the 2023 World Mayor Friendship Award Manuel De Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique, given the 2023 World Mayor Jury Award

The World Mayor Finalists of 2023:
Nine mayors from three continents

The nine finalists for the 2023 World Mayor Prize and Awards represent towns and cities in nine countries, on three continents. Some of the places are small, others are home to hundreds of thousands of people. While the nine finalist mayors all face and deal skilfully with issues unique to their communities, they also address opportunities and challenges common to towns and cities all over the world. At a time of major conflicts in parts of the world, the World Mayor finalists recognise the contributions cities can make towards forging friendship between people.

Since the start of 2023, the organisers of the World Mayor Project have received tens of thousands of messages, emails and letters from people nominating individual mayors and describing why they should be considered for this year’s World Mayor Honours. Qualities mentioned again and again and common to all finalists include their understanding of climate issues, their provision of opportunities for young people and their care for people who need society’s support. This year, many of the people who took part in the World Mayor Project also voiced their fears about divisions in civic society, which threaten to turn into conflicts.

The nine finalists’ conducts, goals and achievements have been valued and commended by participants in the World Mayor Project. In addition, many mayors have been praised for the most important quality a local leader can have: Love for their fellow citizens. The German language has the word ‘bürgernah’ (close to citizens / proche des citoyens) to describe the relationship between mayors and their citizens. “Bürgernähe makes a mayor.”

In January, at the beginning of the 2023 World Mayor Project, the world was sickened by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Now, in the autumn, the conflict in the Middle East threatens to kill and destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, while the fighting in Ukraine is continuing.

In response to the senselessness of war, all wars, the leitmotif of World Mayor 2023 has been friendship and co-operation between cities. All nine finalists share in the belief that at a time of strife, conflict and war between nations, cities, when joining forces, can become peacemakers.

The 2023 World Mayor Finalists
(Listed in alphabetical order of cities)
The 2023 winners will be announced in January 2024

Bristol Mayor Rees
Bristol, UK, Population 468,000
Marvin Rees, Mayor since 2016

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Support for Mayor Rees
Endorsement: “I have closely observed Marvin Rees’s courage and strength as a city leader and highly commend him for this honour. Marvin has continued to lead with values of inclusion, compassion and integrity to create a city of hope for all.”

Endorsement: “I wholeheartedly endorse Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol, for the esteemed title of World Mayor, as he truly embodies the essence of this year's theme, 'Friendship between Cities.' Mayor Rees has garnered praise from individuals within Bristol and around the world, highlighting his unwavering commitment to fostering cooperation, forging partnerships, and establishing strong ties between cities, both domestically and internationally.”

Endorsement: “I write to support Marvin as the most amazing Mayor - he has represented our city globally building relationships with other mayors around the world; he hosted the Global Parliament of Mayors, supported the bid for the UN Habitat climate smart cities and we were one of four cities that won, introduced the One City Plan which is transforming our city, makes the time to connect with real people and invites anyone in to come share solutions for their local challenges.”

Endorsement: “I wish to support Mayor Marvin Rees of Bristol for World Mayor of 2023. There are several exceptional Mayors in this contest, and they all deserve our support. Our world needs every city to succeed, and every mayor to enjoy support for the good work they do. This is why I wish to support mayor Marvin Rees, because Mayor Rees has not only led Bristol with distinction, but he has also generously supported many other city leaders to learn together, and act together, in the name of sustainable and just cities.”
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Dover, NL, Mayor Keats
Dover, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada, Population 700
Tony Keats, Mayor since 1996

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Support for Mayor Keats
Endorsement: “Mayor Tony Keats is the most humble and empathetic person I know. His love for his community goes beyond his family and home. His hometown residents are like family to him, and he treats everyone as such. If there is one thing that Mayor Keats is most passionate about it is politics, and what should be done for the betterment of his hometown, as well as communities in the local area, but his love of Newfoundland, where he was born and raised, extends to the whole island. Every community needs a mayor who will fight for their rights. Without a trusting politician, you have nothing.”

Endorsement: “Tony Keats, a person who has contributed countless hours of dedicated service to serving the rural community of Dover, NL, and fostering community partnerships throughout the central NL region for many decades. As provincial representative in Municipalities NL, Tony committed years working to improve community sustainability throughout the province but especially in rural regions struggling through economic challenges, population decline, labour market shortages, negative birth rates and outmigration.”

Endorsement: “I am the Deputy Mayor of St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have had the incredible pleasure of working with Mayor Tony Keats on our provincial Municipalities board. Tony has proven himself to be a compassionate colleague and leader in the small town of Dover in our province. Aside from his incredible work in his hometown, he has brought his vision and care to larger populations right across Canada. He has heart and integrity and has served the people of his hometown for over two decades.”

Endorsement: “Greetings from the Heart of South America, Bolivia! I am writing from the world's highest administrative capital city, La Paz, Bolivia. As a proud Bolivian, I am thrilled to offer my heartfelt support for Tony Keats, the former President of Municipalities of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and the Mayor of Dover. His unwavering dedication and remarkable contributions to Bolivian municipalities, as well as the municipal system in Bolivia, have had a profound and lasting impact on communities both near and far.”
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Graz Mayor Elke Kahr
Graz, Austria, Population 285,000
Elke Kahr, Mayor since 2021

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Support for Mayor Kahr
Endorsement: “Elke Kahr, the Mayor of Graz, is a shining example of leadership and dedication. Her leadership has transformed Graz into a model of sustainability, inclusivity, and cultural richness. Under her guidance, the city has blossomed into a vibrant and environmentally friendly community. Mayor Kahr's dedication to supporting local businesses, green initiatives, and the arts has enriched the lives of Graz's residents and made the city a wonderful place to live. Her commitment to listening to the people is commendable. Graz is fortunate to have such a dedicated and visionary leader.”

Endorsement: “I want to express my support for Elke Kahr to be awarded the 2023 World Mayor Prize because she is a politician unlike any other. I remember crying out with joy when I heard that her party had won the municipal election, and my hopes have not been disappointed. Since Elke Kahr has assumed office as mayor, Graz is an entirely different city, a friendly, welcoming, modern and socially just city that serves the interest of the people. In these politically trying times, it is an invaluable source of comfort to see my home city with such an amazing government. Elke Kahr deserves all the prizes you can give to her.”

Endorsement: “Elke Kahr is known for her “Robin Hood policy,” where she donates a significant portion of her salary to the needy. People who have problems in their day-to-day life can, without much hassle, contact her via mobile phone or quickly get a personal appointment, can explain their struggles and she listens and helps. She has been instrumental in supporting renters and battling the housing crisis in Graz. She has also helped the lower strata of society by expanding social benefits and reducing fees for public kindergartens, and also by forgoing the automatic index-based increase of prices during the highest inflation Austria experienced in decades.”

Endorsement: “Elke Kahr is an outstanding person and a very rare breed of politician - She is a down to earth, honest and a genuinely nice person, who really embodies her mantra "Helfen statt reden" which roughly translates to "Help instead of talking" or "Action! not words". Even while managing the second biggest city of Austria, she still makes time to listen to the problems of the "little people". In a world full of corrupt, self-centred carrierists, we need more people like Elke Kahr, who really care about the needs of all people and not just the needs of the "powerful" 1%.”
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Greifswald Mayor Stefan Fassbinder
Greifswald, Germany, Population 60,000
Stefan Fassbinder, Mayor since 2015

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Support for Mayor Fassbinder
Endorsement: “As a resident of the city of Greifswald with Polish heritage, I would like to hereby make my statement about our mayor: Dr. Fassbinder is an outstanding example of international engagement and inclusive city leadership. Under his guidance, our city has expanded existing partnerships by promoting various collaborations between Greifswald-based associations and Polish counterparts. This has contributed to making our city an open and diverse community.”

Endorsement: On behalf of the community of Drohobych City (Ukraine), I would like to take this opportunity to express my support for Dr. Stefan Fassbinder, the Mayor of Greifswald (Germany), who has been nominated for the World Mayor Prize 2023. Couple of words about our partnership. The first contacts between the cities of Greifswald and Drohobych took place in 2017, and a partnership agreement was signed in 2019. Relations between the cities are developing rapidly thanks to the personal involvement and attention of the Mayor of Greifswald.

Endorsement: “I am an agricultural engineer at the City Hall of Pomerode, Brazil: Mayor Fassbinder is a strong supporter of actions to mitigate climate impacts, which shows his concern for global impacts through local actions. Not just local actions, but actions in collaboration with our municipality of Pomerode, in the south of Brazil. The encouragement received through sustainable mobility projects has been very important in changing the perception of how we can help the environment. We thank Mayor Fassbinder for this encouragement.”

Endorsement: “I would like to express my great support for Mayor Stefan Fassbinder. He is extremely open to ideas and initiatives of citizens. I very much appreciate his intensive cooperation with partner cities: be they Goleniow (Poland)or Drohobych (Ukraine), especially his initiatives during the Covid pandemic and the war between Ukraine and Russia. Besides, he has created conditions in our city in which you want to live and to which you want to return: we have great playgrounds for kids, our city is green, colorful and adapted to the needs of the elderly - there is a place for everyone here. I love the fact that he supports multilingualism: in the office for citizens when dealing with official matters we can communicate not only in English but also in Polish.”
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Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko
Kyiv, Ukraine, Pre-war population 2,900.000
Vitaliy Klitschko, Mayor since 2014
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Support for Mayor Klitschko
Endorsement: “I support Vitaliy Klitschko to be awarded the 2023 World Mayor Prize for his courage, integrity, leadership and ceaseless effort in protecting the citizens of Kyiv from the current Russian aggression. In addition, over the years, he has been an inspiring role model both as a sportsman as well as a politician who has not only proclaimed democratic and European values but who has also lived and acted in accordance with them. Hardly any other mayor in the world today has had to deal with such a number of gigantic challenges and has managed them so well. A person of determination, great humanity, positive energy, authenticity and dignity - a force of the good that is left in this world and of which we need more.”

Endorsement: “Vitaliy Klitschko is an example for good leadership. As a former sportsman the transition into politics is never easy and not meant for everyone. Most of the time political leaders are just confronted by the daily business of their job, which can be overwhelming already. Mr Klitschko however, had to be there for his people in the darkest times in centuries for Kyiv. During the start of the Russian war against Ukraine, Kyiv was one of the main targets. But it was possible to defend the city against the invaders. This is only possible, if there is good leadership and the citizens are able to not panic. Vitaliy Klitschko was able to provide that kind of leadership. Therefore, I don´t know what else could be more worthy of being World Mayor than the actions and toughness of Vitaliy Klitschko in the past one and a half years.”

Endorsement: “Even before the war, the mayor of Kiev transformed his city into a functioning, affordable and, above all, ecologically sustainable public transport. During the war, despite Kiev's plight, he maintained all public functions of his city administration.Further, besides maintaining the city administration, he fights against the invaders of the country.He is a patron saint for his city and thus a role model for every mayor on this earth.”
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Oliveri, Sicily, Mayor Francesco Iarrera
Oliveri, Sicily, Italy, Population 2,100
Francesco Iarrera, Mayor since 2019

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Support for Mayor Iarrera
Endorsement: “I'm here to write to you after reading the official list of Mayors shortlisted for the Best Mayor of the World 2023 award. I am writing to support the Mayor of Oliveri Francesco Iarrera. All the Mayors selected by you share the belief that their cities must work together to make their voices heard and everyone must learn from each other to support each other, advise each other, discuss to obtain better results, this is the operating way and the basic vision of Mayor Iarrera. His key concepts are: trust and sharing. Oliveri is a very small Sicilian town, compared to the large cities that compete for your prize, but I can loudly say that it has nothing less than the big cities.”

Endorsement: “Mayor Iarrera, understands the importance of friendship with near and far countries as a mark of growth by investing in the growth of Oliveri as a community, at regional, national and international level to work in partnership, share ideas on better governance, attract investment and open up new opportunities to see the village thrive. He is a human being and a kind leader and has a selfless heart. His diligence, strength of character, vision, resilience, perseverance, fairness, passion, equality, inclusiveness, are also perceived by the many posts he makes on Facebook. He is a mayor from the virtual square. Mayor Iarrera has earned widespread recognition for his humanity. .

Endorsement: “Finding the Mayor of Oliveri, Francesco Iarrera, a candidate in the running for this award, amazes me greatly from an administrative point of view, but reading the aims of the current edition of the award, the amazement vanishes and turns into certainty, because Iarrera's human qualities they are admirable and multiple, he is the right person to compete for such an award. Humanity, genuineness, simplicity, goodness, education and brotherhood distinguish him. Passion, friendship, sensitivity, inclusion, humanity, sharing, collaboration, represent Mayor Iarrera. An esteemed nutritionist, he is one of those people you meet who leave an indelible mark on your life. I don't know if he will win this award or move on to the next stage, but I firmly believe that his person deserves this recognition. Recognition, which the municipality of Oliveri that he administers deserves, recognition, which all of Sicily deserves, given that in this edition Iarrera is competing as the only Sicilian candidate. SICILY is a land of passion, taste, meeting between cultures and Iarrera fights for this. Sicily is a land of smells, of flavours.

Endorsement: “The mayor of Oliveri, Doctor Iarrera Francesco, ennobles the political art with his honest universal humanity. It is 365 days a year at the service of every living thing. Attentive to everyone's every need. It is an example of mutual respect, tolerance and individual and collective freedom. As mayor he embraces cultural diversities because they contribute to everyone's growth. He is everyone's mayor. He is everyone's friend. Integration, kind attention to frail children and the elderly, to immigrants, to the environment, to those who are alone, to needy families. Oliveri has always been a small paradise on earth for the natural beauties of the place but now thanks to its mayor it is a paradise for the universal love that one breathes and for the respect that shines, like the sun that rises every day, for everything and everyone.”
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Quelimane Mayor Manuel De Araujo
Quelimane, Mozambique, Population 350,000
Manuel De Araújo, Mayor since 2011

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Support for Mayor De Araújo
Endorsement: “It is with great pleasure that I express my vote for candidate Manuel de Araujo in the World Mayor 2023 elections. As a citizen of Quelimane, Mozambique, I personally witness the positive impact Manuel de Araujo has had on our city as mayor. Under his visionary leadership, Quelimane has experienced remarkable progress in a number of areas, from infrastructure improvements to the promotion of innovative educational programmes. His tireless dedication to building a more inclusive and sustainable city is evident in every project and initiative implemented. Manuel de Araujo has demonstrated an unrivalled commitment to listening and responding to the needs of the population, valuing the active participation of citizens in municipal decision-making. His inclusive and democratic approach is an inspiring example.”

Endorsement: “I first met Manuel de Araújo in Sydney in 2006 during an IDU meeting. At the time, I was impressed by his brilliance and his clear-sighted vision for a peaceful and prosperous Mozambique. Manuel de Araújo's service to his fellow citizens has been reflected in the way he has been repeatedly entrusted with the governance of Quelimane and he has repaid popular trust with serious and prudent management and the promotion of better living standards and healthier live-styles, having shown unusual leadership skills in very difficult times such as when cyclone Freddy devastated his city and led him to dedicate himself 100% to its reconstruction. Manuel de Araújo's brilliant professional, academic and political career and international network make him a guarantor of democracy and a promoter of development in one of the countries that need them most. I am convinced that Mozambique's future will be better if it can continue to count on Manuel de Araújo's service as the inhabitants of Quelimane already do.

Endorsement: “It is with great honor and satisfaction that I submit my vote for the Mozambican citizen and mayor of the municipality of Quelimane. It is a great privilege to see a compatriot and the mayor of the capital of my province Zambézia on the list of candidates for world mayor. Well done Mozambique, well done Zambézia, well done the district of Quelimane, especially the municipality of Quelimane and its residents. May we have more Araújos in Mozambique and Zambézia in particular.”

Endorsement: “Manuel de Araújo is proud to say that Quelimane is the cycling capital of Mozambique, and that his dream is to make it the cycling capital of Africa. However, his work goes far beyond this detail. We must not forget that this region is battered by hurricanes and cyclones which, in addition to material destruction and lack of sanitary conditions, result in the spread of diseases such as acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), malaria, diarrhoea, fever, measles, upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). The struggle undertaken by Manuel Araújo to help the population solve these problems and others is not known to many in the world. The difficulties resulting from being a poor city and belonging to the African continent, most of the time forgotten by all of us who already have much better conditions in our developed countries, do not allow us to look at others who are further away.”
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Tremblay-en-France Mayor Francois Asensi
Tremblay-en-France, France, Population 37,000
François Asensi, Mayor since 1991

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Support for Mayor Asensi
Endorsement: “I support François Asensi's candidacy as the world's best mayor. From my community of 722,000 inhabitants, I watch with great interest the actions of this emblematic mayor of the Greater Paris Metropolis. He created the Académie des Banlieues, which does remarkable work in education. For the health of residents. In addition to the creation of a municipal health centre, the mayor has acted against pollution in the metropolis: air pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution. Mayor Asensi also promotes international solidarity through concrete projects in twinned towns.

Endorsement: “
I'm delighted to know that François ASENSI has been shortlisted among the 25 mayors eligible for the title of "world's best mayor". This place and the next title, I hope, of "best mayor in the world", are richly deserved after all he has accomplished, fought for and defended tirelessly over many years. Despite the positions of responsibility, he has held and still holds, he has remained accessible and close to his constituents. Always present among the population at the slightest event, always listening to everyone, concerned about the quality of life of its inhabitants. Beyond the borders of his town, and indeed those of France, he has always shown support and solidarity towards those (countries, towns, people) in great difficulty.

“I support the mayor of my town, François Asensi, and would like to express my gratitude for his outstanding work and humanity. I regularly praise the quality of our municipality and how lucky I am to live here with my 3 daughters. The mediatheque, the theater, the Odéon...all the cultural and social events - the political and humanist commitment of the mayor and elected officials is remarkable. It's a great place to live. And the mayor is always close to the residents. You can meet him and approach him with confidence.”

Endorsement: “François Asensi is an excellent mayor who has succeeded in recognizing the different cultural, social and human components of his city, while enabling them to identify with an inclusive collective project. He is an example to follow in a French society marked by discrimination, exclusion, insecurity and violence.”
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Utrecht Mayor Sharon Dijksma
Utrecht, Netherlands, Population 368,000
Sharon Dijksma, Mayor since 2020

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Support for Mayor Dijksma
Endorsement: “This is to express my strongest possible support for Ms Sharon Dijksma as the World’s Best Mayor, to whom I ascribe much of the dynamism and positive change found in the city today. Her strategic, inclusive, and ecologically friendly views will help the city evolve even further, possibly as an example for other cities struggling to match historic roots with today’s requirements of providing a humane, culturally diverse, green, economically attractive, liveable, and healthy living environment, and for cities aspiring to be protective towards their most vulnerable citizens and towards the arts and culture that humankind can produce when allowed to live in freedom and in the certainty all basic needs can be provided for.”

Endorsement: “Sharon Dijksma is a great mayor, with a strong sense of justice and unity despite differences, and a true leader who dares to speak out and act against regional or national policy, the municipality cannot execute in good conscience. Even if that makes her temporarily unpopular with some inhabitants. She is not afraid of voters and clearly acts from a strong drive to make this city great and better for everyone in it, not to be re-elected.”

Endorsement: “In a country that is currently so divided and dealing with immense challenges, I feel so grateful to be a citizen of Utrecht, led by Mayor Sharon Dijksma. Utrecht is one of the leading Dutch cities in terms of sustainability and social policy that truly supports their citizens. There are many reorganisations and renovations going on to prepare the city for future climate challenges, where pedestrians and bikers get lots of space. The way the municipality involves the citizens to make the best choice in terms of sustainability, liveability and safety makes us feel like this is truly our city, that we are shaping together. Also, the social policy is heart-warming. If you need help, because you are struggling to get by, dealing with health problems, or any other issue, Utrecht truly is the best place in the Netherlands to ask for support.
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The World Mayor Project was conceived in 2004 by the City Mayors Foundation to raise the profile of mayors worldwide and honour those who have contributed exceptionally to local and urban affairs. Mayors must carry out their duties selflessly and beyond reproach. The Project has no association with any city or organisation and is run on philanthropic lines. Any kind of revenue is NOT sought and will be rejected if offered. DETAILS

Winners of the World Mayor Prize since 2004: Edi Rama, Tirana (2004); Dora Bakoyannis, Athens (2005); John So, Melbourne (2006); Helen Zille, Cape Town (2008); Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City (2010); Iñaki Azkuna, Bilbao (2012); Naheed Nenshi, Calgary (2014); Bart Somers, Mechelen (2016); Valeria Mancinelli, Ancona (2018); Ahmed Aboutaleb, Rotterdam (2021); Philippe Rio, Grigny (2021); Elke Kahr, Graz (2023) DETAILS