City Leadership in an Urbanizing World

This series offers first hand insights from transformational mayors whose legacy lives on beyond their terms. By virtue of storytelling, the city leaders bring out the human face of the city and give practical advice to future generation of leaders. The leadership profiles describe the key characteristics on their leadership styles and their legacies they live on beyond their terms in office.... view more


Creating affordable housing and pro-poor urban employment opportunities (Leaderships role), Kigali

Aisa Kirabo discusses the role of city leaders in managing both the local and global interconnections of cities.


Creating affordable housing and pro-poor urban employment opportunities (Risk and opportunity), Kigali

Aisa Kirabo talks about the role of leadership: to make the tough decisions, to be the voice for the voiceless.


Creating affordable housing and pro-poor urban employment opportunities (Urbanization), Kigali

Aisa Kirabo talks about the opportunities that urbanization provides. If well planned, it could be hugely transformative.


The Cape Town partnership - A case study of collaborative leadership, Cape Town

Andrew Boraine talks about the role of governments on market driven economies.


Catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship in times of crisis, Lisbon

Graça Fonseca explains the participatory budget in Lisbon, as an instrument to involve people in public decisions.


Transparency and Participation - People cannot participate if they don’t know what we are doing, Bilbao

Ibone Bengoetxea explains how Bilbao reinforced other sectors to transform its economy after the industrial crisis.


Turnaround in crisis –making cities engines of economic growth (1st challenges), Ahmedabad

Keshav Varma talks about facing the challenging situation Ahmedabad presented when he started.


Turnaround in crisis –making cities engines of economic growth (Slum improvement), Ahmedabad

Keshav Varma explains slum improvement in Ahmedabad through a partnership between public & private sector, the poor and NGOs.


Catalyzing economic development and reducing car dependency, Johannesburg

Lael Bethlehem talks about redeveloping Johannesburg after the Apartheid’s end.


A good city is a city where people live not because they have to, but because they want to, Vienna

Boosting public transportation and on foot trips in Vienna.


Revitalizing poor neighborhoods and greening the city, Cape Town

Patricia De Lille talks about incentivizing a green economy in Cape Town.


Building a city for the people through education and housing, Chicago

Richard M. Daley about defining a global city strategy for Chicago.


Make a big splash, fry the big fish, and be open about that, La Paz

Ronald MacLean talks about tackling corruption in La Paz’s municipality.


Creating competitive cities through smart strategic planning (Tourism), Poznan

Tomasz Kayser on using tourism as a way to show Poznan to the world.


Creating competitive cities through smart strategic planning (Economic reform), Poznan

Tomasz Kayser explains how Poznan reacted and prepared for the big economic reform that took place in the early nineties.


Creating competitive cities through smart strategic planning (Entrepreneurship), Poznan

Tomasz Kayser talks about transforming Poznan into an entrepreneurial city.


Creating livable cities through strategic planning (Olympics), Turin

Valentino Castellani about using the 2006 Winter Olympic Games to emphasize the process of internationalization of Turin.


Creating livable cities through strategic planning (Tourism), Turin

Valentino Castellani talks about improving the tourism appeal of the city of Turin.

About the Presenters

Aisa Kirabo Kacyira

Former Mayor of Kigali (2006 – 2011); Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General for UN-Habitat (2011 – present)

Ms. Kirabo was Mayor of Kigali City (2006 - 2011), one of the fastest urbanizing cities in the world. In recognition of the high level of cleanliness, greenness, safety and the sustainable, affordable housing initiatives combined with pro-poor urban employment opportunities, under Ms. Kirabo's leadership, Kigali won the UN-HABITAT Scroll of Honour Award in 2008. Prior to her position as Mayor, Ms. Kirabo was an Elected Member of Parliament (and member of Parliamentary Standing Committee in charge of land use and management, settlement and environment), she actively participated in the legislative and over-sight functions of parliament in addition to community mobilization. In 2011 Ms. Kirabo was appointed UN-HABITAT Deputy Executive Director.

Andrew Boraine

Former CEO Cape Town Partnership (2003 – 2013); CEO, Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (2013 – present)

Andrew Boraine is CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership. He was a senior official in the constitutional department of Nelson Mandela’s government in the immediate post-Apartheid years, and was the first post-Apartheid City Manager of Cape Town (1997). He led the city through transition by restructuring of the tax base, reorganizing the municipality’s 20,000 civil servants and where they worked, and addressing the needs of populations and areas which had been excluded from the local government system for many years under Apartheid. Boraine later founded the South African Cities Network and helped to establish the Cape Town Partnership, of which he was CEO for 10 years between 2003 and 2013. He has been a driving force behind the establishment of several important institutions working in and with the nation’s cities.

Graça Fonseca

Deputy Mayor for Economy, Lisbon City Council (2009 – present)

Graça Fonseca has been a Councilwoman of Lisbon City Council since 2009. She is responsible for the areas of Economy, Innovation, Modernisation and Decentralisation. In addition to being responsible for Lisbon’s economy, Graça Fonseca is also in charge of decentralization and modernization, and she has recently led an innovative administrative reform program in these areas. Lisbon has two levels of administration – parishes and the city. Fonseca’s recent reform consolidated the city’s lower tier of administration, reducing the number of parishes from 53 to 24, in order to increase power and resources at the local level and bring decision making closer to citizens.

Ibone Bengoetxea

First Deputy Mayor of Bilbao (2007 – present)

Ibone Bengoetxea Otaolea has been Deputy Mayor of Bilbao since 2007. She is City Councillor for Culture and Education, and Coordinator of Cultural Policies, Education and Leisure. She began her political career as City Councillor for Traffic and Transport, and has remained in local government ever since. The local elections in 2007 saw Bengoetxea elected second Deputy Mayor, and she became City Councillor responsible for Culture and Education. She was re-elected to these roles after the 2011 elections. In 2011 she was also named President of EUDEL, the Association of Basque Municipalities – the first woman ever to hold that position. Bengoetxea moved up the Council hierarchy to fill the position of First Deputy Mayor. Under the leadership of Bengoetxea and other city leaders before her, Bilbao has become a model example of the ‘renaissance city’. It has transformed from a declining industrial port into a hub of knowledge and culture, and a city with a strong tourist draw.

Keshav Varma

Former Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad (until 1997); Managing Director and CEO, Cities International (2013 – present)

Mr. Varma has had a 30-year career as a senior servant and senior World Bank official, focused on complex urban policy issues, reconstruction programs and recently climate change and conservation to enhance sustainability of infrastructure growth. As Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad, a city of over six million, Mr. Varma is credited with rejuvenating the organization with a much enhanced public image, high staff morale, and a well-defined strategic approach. During his tenure, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation received an AA(SO) credit rating, and issued the “Ahmedabad City Bond”, the first municipal bond issued in South Asia without central or state government guarantees. In 1997, Mr. Varma joined the World Bank as Sector Director of East Asia Urban Development and Disaster Management, a position he held until August, 2009. Subsequently, Mr. Varma held positions as the Head of the Global Urban Program at the World Bank Institute, and the Program Director of the Global Tiger Initiative for the World Bank, a partnership of 13 tiger range countries and international partners on the conservation of wild tigers. At present, Mr. Varma is the Managing Director and CEO, Cities International.

Lael Bethlehem

Former CEO, Johannesburg Development Agency (2005 – 2010)

Lael Bethlehem was Director of Economic Development at the City of Johannesburg from 2002 to 2005 and Chief Executive of the Johannesburg Development Agency from 2005 to 2010. Today, Bethlehem is an investment executive at Hosken Consolidated Investments, and a Non-Executive Director of The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, where she chairs the Investment Committee. As CEO of the Johannesburg Development Agency, Lael Bethlehem was responsible for developing the infrastructure for the introduction of Rea Vaya, a Bus Rapid Transit system for the city. This flagship project was a social initiative as well as an infrastructure and environmental project: designed to be accessible, affordable and attractive to residents of all races and classes, the scheme sought to promote social inclusion and counteract the physical and social isolation suffered by the city’s poorest communities, particularly in and around Soweto.

Maria Vassilakou

Deputy Mayor of Vienna, and Executive City Councillor for Urban Planning, Traffic and Transport, Climate Protection, Energy and Citizen Participation (2010 – present)

Maria Vassilakou has been the Deputy Mayor of Vienna, and Executive City Councillor for Urban Planning, Traffic and Transport, Climate Protection, Energy and Citizen Participation since 2010. She is also the deputy national spokesperson of the Green Party in Austria. Moving directly from student to mainstream politics, Maria Vassilakou was elected as a Green Party member of the Vienna Provincial Parliament in 1996. She remained in this role until 2001 when she was elected to the City Council. Three years later, Vassilakou became leader of the Greens in Vienna. Maria Vassilakou has been able to bring about an impressive degree of ‘greening’ of the city’s urban policies. She successfully negotiated green initiatives into the 2010 Coalition Agreement, including the introduction of more green spaces in the city, and a planned tenfold increase in the number of solar panels. She has also continued to determinedly fight for measures which bring Vienna closed to her vision of a “Good City”.

Patricia DeLille

Mayor of Cape Town (2011 – present)

Patricia De Lille is Mayor of Cape Town and Founder and Leader of the Independent Democrats Party. In 2011, De Lille was elected Mayor of Cape Town, winning almost two thirds of the vote. Since becoming Mayor, De Lille has also made significant efforts to improve relationships between the city administration and other city stakeholders. She has worked hard to engage with civil society and with the private sector. In particular, De Lille aimed to change the city’s approach towards business ‘from red tape to red carpet’, to create a more business-friendly city. She has created an ‘investment facilitator’ role within City Hall which acts as a ‘one stop shop’ for new investors, and has scrapped 200 superfluous by-laws in order to simplify businesses advertising. De Lille has continued to fight against corruption ever since - she is a member of the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption and the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption.

Richard Daley

Former Mayor of Chicago, Illinois (April 24, 1989 – May 16, 2011)

During Daley’s time as Mayor he has had a number of notable successes from taking direct control of public schools in the city, to promoting a more racially diverse city workforce, clamping down on crime, and investing heavily in the city’s public realm. Mayor Daley took over the Chicago Public Schools, promoted a more racially diverse city workforce, developed tourism, oversaw the construction of Millennium Park, and increased environmental efforts and the rapid development of the city's central business district. His achievements have also come across the board from fiscal affairs to coalition building to clamping down on crime to investing heavily in the city’s public realm.

Ronnie Maclean

Former Mayor of La Paz (1985 - 1991)

Mr. MacLean-Abaroa was the first democratically elected mayor of La Paz, Bolivia, and was reelected four times between 1985 and 1991 to this office. Regarded as a leading governance expert and practitioner in the field of local government reform, and anti-corruption, Mr. MacLean-Abaroa comes from the world of politics and public service. He was the first democratically elected mayor of La Paz Bolivia in 1985, and was reelected four times until 1997. In the late 1990's he spent three years with the Harvard Institute for International Development as a Senior Research Fellow on Governance. From 2003 to 2011, he worked as Senior Governance Specialist at the World Bank Institute, where he helped in the design of modern public policy, development and delivery of learning programs, and the production of innovative learning materials. A founding member of Transparency International, he is on their Advisory Council and served as the first chairman of TI-Latin America. He also lectures at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He coauthored with Robert Klitgaard and Linsey Parris Corrupt Cities: A practical Guide to Cure and Prevention (2000) translated into fifteen languages.

Tomasz Kayser

First Deputy Mayor of Poznan (June 1990 - December 2014).

Tomasz Kayser was responsible for local economic development, strategic planning, and public safety and order in the city. He was also chair of the Programme Council of the Polish Local Economic Development Association; deputy chair of the Local Tourism Association Board; deputy chair of the Board of Directors of the Poznań International Fair Ltd; and a member of the Greater Poland Monitoring Committee of the National Strategy for Regional Development. Mr. Kayser resigned as a First Deputy Mayor on December 1st 2014, after over 24 years and 6 months of service. As he was again elected to the city council (for the 7th time)-the election of the mayor and to the city council takes place at the same time-he will sit in the Council for the next four years and will still be involved in Poznań development.

Valentino Castellani

Former Mayor of Turin (July 22, 1993 – May 31, 2001)

He directed the organizational strategy for the city’s hosting of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, acting as Chairman of its organizing committee. Mr. Castellani remains involved in local government in Turin as Vice President of the city’s strategic planning function, Torino Strategica. He is the author of some 70 scientific publications, some of which in the theory of transmission and coding applied to satellites and mobile communication. Castellani is also a noted university professor and alumnus of the Polytechnic University of Turin. From 1999 to 2006 he was President of the Turin Organizing Committee, the organizing committee of the XX Olympic Winter Games in Turin.