Every individual has a responsibility to sort out the problems in the world's cites, says the Lord Mayor of Bonn, Barbel Dieckmann.
Ms. Dieckmann, head of the city that is being superseded by Berlin as seat of Germany's government, is in San Francisco to speak at the State of the World Forum about the future of the world's cities.
She said in an interview yesterday (Oct 29) that the industrial cities in the north and the populous, less developed cities in the southern parts of the globe may have different problems, but they had an equal responsibility to work on solutions.
"There are social problems, like the huge gap between rich and poor, unemployment, security, drugs, and environmental problems, like carbon emissions, climate change, and the ever-growing populations... It's important that all cities are involved in finding solutions."
Many of the world's mayors met in Rio de Janeiro in 1991 and formed Local Agenda 21, a group whose message is that all people, not just councils and governments, are equally responsible for trying to find solutions for these problems.
"The idea is that although the problems are global they must be addressed on a local level by all of us," Ms. Dieckmann said.
She said coming to the Forum was important because it gave her a chance to meet other people who work in the area, to learn from others and build up networks with them.
Ms. Dieckmann said her city, Bonn, faced these challenges just like other cities, but was about to undergo a slight image change once the German federal government shifted its seat to Berlin.
"However, we will still have some ministries, like the Ministry for Development, the Ministry for the Environment, and pick up a number of United Nations organizations, like the Secretariat to Combat Desertification, and about 150 non-governmental organizations. Bonn will still be a vibrant city because it has a good economy, with several key industries and head offices based there, as well as large research institutes. And with the introduction of the Euro next year [the single European Union currency], it will be close to the center of Europe. Instead of being known for being the capital, it will be known for these things."
Ms. Dieckmann, elected in 1994, was the first woman, and the first Social Democrat to be the Lord Mayor of Bonn.