Yasmin Asgarali, Deputy Chair Board of Directors, notes that many members of CACOR, especially those who desire to act, see municipal government as the most appropriate place to work.
This conclusion is consistent with the views of Benjamin Barber, who, in his book “If Mayors ruled the World”, argues that in the four centuries since nation states – preoccupied with competition rather than collaboration – became paramount in the governance of human affairs, they have failed to address effectively fundamental issues crucial to the welfare of homo sapiens: climate change, terrorism, poverty, and trafficking of drugs, guns, and people – the nations of the world seem paralyzed.
Barber contends that cities, and the mayors who run them, can do and many are already doing a better job than nations. He cites the unique qualities that cities worldwide share:
- civic trust,
- indifference to borders and sovereignty,
- and a democratic penchant for networking, creativity, innovation, and cooperation.
He demonstrates how city mayors, singly and jointly, are responding to transnational problems more effectively than nation-states mired in ideological infighting and sovereign rivalries.
The book features profiles of a dozen mayors around the world, making a persuasive case that the city is democracy’s best hope in a globalizing world, and that great mayors are already proving that this is so.
Cities are solving problems while nation-states are failing. So it’s time to put cities in charge. Of the whole world!
~ Benjamin Barber,
Walt Whitman Professor of Political Science Emeritus,
The late John Walsh of Ottawa put it this way: I believe that community-type action is the key to making progress on sustainability issues. It is a way around the ‘tragedy of the commons’ that sets in when things are done at too a large scale.
We are all local citizens; we are all global citizens.
~ Ian Johnson
Former Secretary General, Club of Rome
Jane Jacobs insisted that cities are the fundamental building blocks of our economic lives.
According to Bill McKibben, access to cheap energy made us rich, wrecked our climate, and made us the first people on earth who have no practical need of our neighbours; but we do, so let’s start there!
We can’t just sit around waiting for the global solution. There is a lot that can be done at a household level, at a community level, at a regional level.
~ Elinor Ostrom
Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, 2009
The Ottawa Sustainability Fund (www.osfund.ca) is one example of a simple, practical way for neighbours in Ottawa to join forces to strengthen our collective ability to address whatever linked ecological and economic stresses we and our successors may face.
There are many others: Ecology Ottawa, the National Capital Environmental Nonprofit Network, Friends of the Earth…
What’s your opinion? Do you think cities should be put in charge of solving our global problems?