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|Metropolis seeks solutions
to issues facing world cities
27 December 2005: The metropolises are shaping the 21st century. While individually different, they share modern-day concerns about issues such as urban planning and development, the economy, health, major environmental issues, transport, infrastructure and communications. Since May 2004, Metropolis acts also as the metropolitan section of United Cities and Local Government (UCLG).
Established in 1984, the Metropolis Association is represented by 87 member cities across the world and operates as an international forum for exploring issues and concerns common to cities with populations of more than one million.
Its main objective is to increasingly improve the development process of the leading metropolitan areas, in order to enhance the well-being of all citizens. Metropolis is an organisation representing regions and metropolitan areas at the worldwide level and is recognised as a major player by large international organisations such as the UN, WHO, the World Bank and others.
The Association has joined forces with the United Towns Organisation (UTO), the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA) and the World Major Cities Summit Conference to form the G4. At its request, that group has been joined by six regional associations representing the local authorities and the cities of the world's great regions. As such, its mission is to represent members and their interests, to relay their messages, to make their ideas and points of view known.
Objectives of Metropolis
• To foster cooperation between cities in dealing with problems that face major metropolises.
• To represent the great metropolitan regions of the world, in collaboration with international organisations, other city organisations and civil society.
• To facilitate an exchange of knowledge within the network of members.
Main functions and activities
The Metropolis Association provides considerable opportunity for international cooperation. It provides a framework for the exchange of technical skills and for the development of relations between member cities. Metropolis undertakes a variety of activities. These include:
• Triennial congresses
• Standing commissions
• Technical assistance
• Meetings of the Association's Board of Directors and the Executive
• Publications, reports and newsletters
Every three years, Metropolis holds a major international congress, which sets the pace for the Association. Contributing to deepening the understanding of metropolitan issues and fostering cooperation between its members, the congresses encourage dialogue on numerous aspects of urban development, including economic, social and spatial issues. Between each congress, members of Metropolis work in groups with other member cities on thematic research projects. Conclusions from the work of the commissions are presented at the congresses in workshops that are open to the public. Congresses are attended by members of Metropolis. Members of the public with an interest in urban planning and development issues may also attend.
To date, the following Metropolis congresses have been held.
• Metropolis '84, 'What kind of development for the major metropolitan regions at the dawn of the 3rd millennium?', held in Paris, Ile-de-France.
• Metropolis '87, 'A better life for all metropolises', held in Mexico City, Mexico.
• Metropolis '90, 'Metropolises in ascendancy', held in Melbourne, Australia.
• Metropolis '93, 'The citizen and sustainable development', held in Montreal, Canada.
• Metropolis '96, 'Metropolis for the people, seeking a solidarity among world citizens', held in Tokyo, Japan.
• Metropolis '99, 'A network of cities for world citizens' held in Barcelona, Spain.
• Metropolis 2002, 'Metropolitan Governance in the New Millennium", held in Seoul, Korea.
• Metropolis 2005 held in Berlin, Germany.
Every three years (between the triennial congresses), members of metropolis work with other member cities on major research projects called commissions. Commissions were established to draw together urban development projects implemented in major metropolises and to encourage the exchange of these experiences between members through active collaboration. The commissions address specific areas selected by the Association's General Assembly. All Metropolis members, recognised international organisations and outside partners may participate in the commissions' works.
The commissions usually involve the participation of, on average, 12 member cities. Member cities are selected as President (or Chair) and Vice-President (or Vice-Chair) of the commissions and assume full responsibility for the studies and the compilation of major reports.
During the 1999 - 2002 period, the commissions addressed the following topics:
• The impact of great sporting and cultural events in the development of large cities
• Urban poverty reduction strategies
• Enhancing and maintaining water quality for metropolises
• The information society and the city
• Urban Indicators
Technical Assistance Scheme
The Technical Assistance Scheme was established in 1993 to encourage the exchange of experience and specialised knowledge between Metropolis members. Technical assistance can assist members with research and provision of technical information and with seeking international finance for research programmes. In particular, it facilitates the transfer of skills at international level through the organisation of short expert missions.
A city can request technical assistance for projects related to urban planning and development. This request can be directed towards a particular city or an open request for assistance. Another city will then offer the services of a technical expert in the field to travel to the requesting city and assist with the study.
Since 1997, Metropolis has provided training and seminars through the Metropolis Training Institute. Located in Montreal, Canada, the Institute organises high-level training sessions for elected officials and urban administrators.
Training programmes address all sectors of urban development. Sessions range from two to 14 days and address the specific needs of participants.
As a result, participants develop:
• Their skills by acquiring valuable theoretical and practical knowledge.
• Their know-how by learning and developing innovative ways to implement actions.
• Their expertise by gaining new insights from actions implemented by other metropolises.
Publications and communications
Metropolis produces a range of publications and information available to members and the public. This includes:
• Syntheses of works from the standing commissions.
• Regular newsletters.
• A member contacts directory.
• Syntheses of conferences and seminars including proceedings of the congresses.
• Reports from Technical Assistance Scheme projects.
In addition, Metropolis has planned a series of activities intended to promote internal communication among its members and increase its presence in international relations.