BUILD Conference Highlights Global Engagement And Urban Leadership
The Bilbao Urban Innovation and Leadership Dialogues (BUILD), launched in Bilbao from June 11-14, bringing together 120 U.S. and European urban leaders—half of whom were MMF alumni—to share strategies for sustainable and equitable urban transformation and global engagement. The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), in partnership with the Bilbao City Council, hosted the event at the iconic Euskalduna Palace Conference Center and Concert Hall and other sites throughout the city.
Featured speakers at BUILD included Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and chief of PolicyLink, Janet Lamkin, president of Bank of America for California, and Ibone Bengoetxea, deputy mayor of the Bilbao City Council, among many others. For a full agenda visit here.
Through dialogue, workshops and site visits, participants explored both the leadership and policy angles of two themes: sustainable and equitable urban transformation and global engagement for cities. Participant discussion affirmed GMF’s identification of the need to confront pressing local issues in U.S. and European cities, while looking ahead and abroad at how global engagement can drive forward innovation, inclusion, and transformation agendas.
Global engagement emerged as central to achieving both sustainable urban transformation and global engagement. As Kevin Cottrell, director of Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives at GMF stated, global engagement can be leveraged in new and innovative ways, but “relies on the confluence of several local factors, such as the alignment of business and workforce development strategies, local NGOs that connect communities to global issues, and educational institutions that foster global engagement efforts.”
Inclusion, notably of diaspora communities, was also described as a central component of any city’s global engagement strategy. As Leigh Moran, senior officer of Strategic Initiatives at the Calvert Foundation, described: “To thrive locally, you have to connect globally, to be truly inclusive and create opportunities for engagement and ownership.”
BUILD is a joint product of the Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives and Urban and Regional Policy Programs at GMF. Together, GMF works to develop a transatlantic urban agenda that is derived from a set of common challenges and potential for shared solutions between U.S. and European cities.
GMF live tweeted sessions on Twitter using #GMFBUILD. To see a social media overview of the event, click here.