Mayors discuss ways to promote equality, environmental protection in their cities - Catholic Courier

Mayors discuss ways to promote equality, environmental protection in their cities

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN
CITY (CNS) — Many of the mayors who met July 21 with Pope Francis stayed at
the Vatican for a second day of discussions focused on city planning that
promotes economic growth, equality and environmental protection simultaneously.

Jeffrey Sachs, a U.S.
economist and head of the Sustainable
Development Solutions Network, told the mayors that Pope Francis’ call
for “integral human development” matches the United Nations’ definition of
sustainable development, which promotes “economic growth that is socially
inclusive and environmentally sustainable.”

In such
an approach, he said, there is a “triple bottom line: the economic, social and
environmental are on a par.”

However,
he said, “as Pope Francis constantly reminds us, that is not how the world
works today.” Financial profit, the pope has said, seems to be the only goal
and that, Sachs said, “doesn’t work for human well-being.”

New
York Mayor Bill de Blasio
asked the mayors why people are still so committed to outdated models of
economic growth when that “model of development is slowly killing us.”

Creating
a “sustainable city,” he said, means helping people out of poverty with jobs
and affordable housing, but also reducing carbon emissions and other forms of
pollution.

Working
for change will take courage and will be uncomfortable at times, de Blasio
said, but “by setting the high goal, we actually force ourselves day by day to
take action related to it.”

All of
the mayors from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa who spoke July
22 mentioned the growing number of poor people in their cities and the
increasing gap between their wealthiest and poorest residents, even in cities
like Boston or Vancouver with thriving economies and low unemployment rates.

Sam Liccardo, who has served
as mayor of San Jose, California, for just over six months, said his Silicon Valley
city is “home to more U.S. patent holders than another city” and that “almost
40 percent of adult residents were born in another country, which is a
richness.”

While
it is home to some of the world’s biggest and fastest growing companies, San
Jose also is home to strong social inequality and an “opportunity gap,” he
said. “We live in one valley, but two worlds,” one of multimillion dollar
homes and the other of large homeless encampments.

Liccardo
said the city is focusing on identifying, housing and providing other services
to the most vulnerable homeless residents, rehabilitating old motels and
turning them into transitional housing and expanding the construction of
affordable homes.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said
Vancouver’s goal is to “build a city and an economy that creates opportunity
for everyone,” and in many ways, it is working: Vancouver has “the most
successful economy of any city in Canada,” he said.

The big
growth areas for Vancouver’s economy, he said, are “green jobs” and “creative
jobs,” particularly in animation, visual effects and film production. At the
same time, he said, because Vancouver is “the warmest city in Canada,” it has a
significant homeless population.

Editor’s Note: A related video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/wSHwmArshJY

 

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