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Bloomberg CityLab 2023 Concludes With More than 500 Mayors, Innovators, and Policymakers Sharing Ideas on How to Solve Complex Global Challenges

Secretary Pete Buttigieg Highlighted the Important Role Cities Play in Revitalizing Infrastructure

Other Featured Speakers included Mayor Ras Baraka, Mayor Dagur Eggerston, Diana Rodriguez Franco, Artist Brandon Hill, and Rodney Carmichael

Infrastructure and Chief Innovators Studio Brought Pioneering Data, Innovation and Infrastructure Leaders Together to Discuss New Approaches to Leveraging Infrastructure Funding. 

Photos from Bloomberg CityLab 2023 are available here (photo credit: Courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies)

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, Bloomberg CityLab 2023, the preeminent global cities summit organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the Aspen Institute, concluded its tenth multi-day summit in Washington, D.C. The event brought together more than 500 city leaders, experts, innovators, and artists from around the world from over 200 cities spanning 40 countries and six continents across the globe. In addition, more than 100 mayors attended CityLab 2023 from leading cities in the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Latin America to attend sessions addressing challenges cities are facing regarding climate, infrastructure, technology, migration, gun violence, and more.

U.S. Transportation Secretary and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg delivered opening remarks that celebrated the role mayors play on the frontlines of implementing historic infrastructure funding: “When I was mayor I believed that local government was the most dynamic and indispensable level at which things get done. Now that I’m here in Washington, D.C. I know that to be true,” he said. “I am firmly convinced that salvation will come from the local, and I see it in the level of trust and the focus local leaders have on getting things done.”

To cap the event, a special Infrastructure and Chief Innovators Studio brought together over 100 pioneering data, innovation, and infrastructure leaders together to discuss how to leverage new approaches for planning and implementing once-in-a-generation infrastructure funding for their communities. During the session, participants also heard from former U.S. Transportation Secretary and Emma Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School Anthony Foxx.

Highlights and commentary from featured speakers on Day 3, October 20:

  • In showcasing the success the City of Bogota, Columbia has through the implementation of care as a public service, a Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge-winning innovation, the city’s Secretary of Women’s Affairs, Diana Rodriguez Franco said: “We include care as a guiding principle of urban planning. When you include care, and not only environmental factors or mobility factors, as a guiding principle of your cities, then cities can be more proximate. What we’ve planned is that by 2035, the city will have 45 care blocks guaranteeing that every woman has at least one care block at the most at 30 minutes by foot from their home.”
  • Reykjavik Mayor Dagur Eggerston highlighted the impact of care strategies on growing the participation of women in the workforce: “The reason Iceland went from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the richest in 100 years is partly due to the fact that it has found ways to keep both genders active in the labor market. So we have the highest participation of women in the labor market, due to programs like our affordable daycare system.”
  • Richard Trent, Executive Director of Friends of Anacostia Park, spoke to the transformative nature of local projects: “Although our cities are very unique, the legacy of disinvestment, especially in urban BIPOC communities across our cities, is all too familiar and very similar to Anacostia and Anacostia Park… What’s exciting about the 11th Street Bridge Park is through their Equitable Development Plan and they’re democratizing capital flows east of the river and in D.C. in ways that we haven’t really seen before. It’s a recognition that equity is an ecosystem.”
  • Artist Brandon Hill shared his experiences as a public artist, and the power of the arts to capture inflection points in society: “Socially it’s easier to look back and understand where something changed. I wanted to be conscious of this. We are in the middle of intersecting movements that are all pressing together. Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Stop Asian Hate – these all are happening and influencing us as a society.”
  • CityLab 2023 closed with a powerful panel on the relationship between cities and hip hop. Introducing the panel, Rodney Carmichael, Host of NPR Music and Hip-Hop Staff Writer, said: “I can guarantee you that nobody thinks about the politics of place, space and race like hip-hoppers, and no genre in the history of recorded music has challenged, branded, or represented American cities bigger and better than hip hop has.”

    Tanya Clay House, EVP of Campaigns and Advocacy at Hip Hop Caucus, said: 
    “Hip hop has traditionally, historically been about telling our story in our communities. It’s about what’s happening. It’s about how it is that we’re surviving. And so when we’re not listening, we’re not paying attention to the artists and what they’re talking about. We’re missing what’s happening right next door.”

    Discussing important role that hip hop plays in elevating the voices of Black and Brown communities, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey Ras Baraka commented: “You can go to anywhere in the world and see people freestyling or breakdancing or imitating what was created in the South Bronx out of a condition of poverty, neglect and inequity… There are whole groups or industries created because of art and culture and specifically hip hop. If we do not understand that and see that, then we’re missing opportunities to develop our communities economically and to engage sectors of art in our city and parts of our community that are not engaged politically.”
  • Sascha Haselmayer, Author and Senior Leader at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public responded and noted the importance of equity in public innovation: “Innovation today is very much about getting equity and inclusion right. I think it really forces us to think about much more diverse practices. There’s no one size fits all for that.”

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Photos: Bloomberg Philanthropies photos are available for download and use here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$ 1.7 billion. For more information, please visit, sign up for our newsletter,  or follow us on  Facebook, Instagram,  YouTube,  Twitter, and LinkedIn.

About the Aspen Institute:
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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