World Mayor essays

In a series of personal essays, the finalists for the 2023 World Mayor Prize describe the reasons that motivated them to enter politics, the challenges they face as mayors and how they envisage their towns and cities to develop and prosper in the future. They stress the importance of connecting with people and building partnerships
Essays by: Mayor of Dover | Mayor of Graz | Bürgermeisterin von Graz | Mayor of Greifswald |Oberbürgermeister von Greifswald | Mayor of Oliveri | Sindaco di Oliveri | Mayor of Quelimane | Mayor of Utrecht | Burgemeester van Utrecht |

Essay by
Manuel de Araújo
Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique
Manuel de Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane Quelimane, Mozambique

December 2023: Since graduating from my postgraduate education at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, I wondered what next, I would do to lead development initiatives and impact many people. Although this was a focus, I was still tied to my personal ego – getting a good paying cheque (not bad at all). If someone were to ask where I came from, it would take too much time for them to understand the location of the by then, unknown city whose municipality was buying rats from citizens.

People of my city saw their mayor using their tax, buying rats back from them instead of providing them with a cleaner environment where rats could find no room. People of my city experienced high infant mortality rates due to poor sanitation conditions. People of my city had to live in neighborhoods where an ambulance could not reach their home in case of any emergency.

This is just to name a few of the conditions that existed. I looked back and decided that I wanted to be a light to them. As a single grain of salt, I was dropped in the municipal election race in 2011 and was elected Mayor of the city.

From that moment until now, I have introduced so many changes among which are:
• Organizing a waste management system
• Opening roads to connect neighborhoods;
• Protecting the city’s infrastructure and marine life by reforesting the mangroves that were being devastated;
• Enhancing partnerships with different national and international organizations (creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and invest in my city).

My city has now been placed on international platforms and is known by those who sit on the table of Global Compact of Mayors, Milan Food Pact Policy (MFPP), International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Our city has attended the COP18, COP…. you name it!

Guess what, our people whose bicycles were never welcomed in the city have space in the main streets of the city and they no longer fight with vehicles. Through this inclusive initiative, Quelimane Municipality has won the Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure (BICI).

Quelimane’s BICI project revolves around the creation of an extensive 5km cycling corridor, capitalizing on the city’s substantial demand for cycling. The proposal includes the establishment of bicycle taxi facilities, an innovative approach to addressing a vital transportation mode within the city.

By setting new benchmarks for similar cities in the region, Quelimane aspires to become a model for smaller and rural African cities, showcasing the potential for sustainable cycling initiatives.

The citizens are no longer interested in going back to selling rats and have demonstrated this in the 2023 municipal elections by voting Renamo and Manuel de Araujo back to office on 11 October 2023.

This decision was not welcomed by those who enjoyed buying rats who are standing strong and still to deny peoples’ will. But the Constitutional Council has now confirmed the elections results.

Essays by: Mayor of Dover | Mayor of Graz | Bürgermeisterin von Graz | Mayor of Greifswald |Oberbürgermeister von Greifswald | Mayor of Oliveri | Sindaco di Oliveri | Mayor of Quelimane | Mayor of Utrecht | Burgemeester van Utrecht |

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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