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Bilbao Urban Innovation and Leadership Dialogues 2016 Report

July 19, 2017
by
Geraldine Ide Gardner
Divya Khandke
3 min read
Photo credit: Jon Chica / Shutterstock

Photo credit: Jon Chica / Shutterstock

BUILD is GMF’s annual convening focusing on the nexus of urban policy and leadership in transatlantic cites – two areas where the institution has over a 30-year history.

What is BUILD? 

BUILD is a unique forum for urban innovators that explores pressing issues facing transatlantic cities and how to move from ideas to action. In 2014, GMF launched BUILD as a forum for discussing transformative change in transatlantic cities that supports greater sustainability, inclusion, and global engagement. The diversity of voices represented at BUILD facilitates a rich transatlantic policy dialogue, while also tackling the specific leadership tools needed to advance change at a local level. 

Who Attends? 

This invitation-only conference engages up to 150 action-oriented change-makers in GMF’s transatlantic network of U.S. and European local leaders. The BUILD cohort includes experts from the private and public sector, as well as, NGOs and educational institutions. Participants are senior level decision makers and elected officials, including Mayors. Leaders at BUILD hail form over a dozen countries and 50 cities. 

What makes BUILD unique? 

BUILD is the only transatlantic urban and regional policy and leadership conference. The intimate size enables dynamic engagement and networking. The BUILD program is highly interactive with a focus on dialogue and immersion in the host city. Finally, BUILD always concludes with an action planning session to allow participants to reflect on what they learned and how to put new ideas into practice. 

The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), in partnership with the City of Bilbao, was pleased to host the third edition of the Bilbao Urban Innovation and Leadership Dialogues (BUILD) from October 26-28, 2016. At the inaugural convening of BUILD in 2014, GMF launched a unique forum for leading transformative change in cities that supports greater sustainability, inclusion, and global engagement. The diversity of voices and experiences represented at BUILD facilitated a rich transatlantic policy dialogue, while also focusing on the specific leadership tools needed to advance change at a local level. This combination of policy and leadership dialogue shaped two cohorts of BUILD participants and created a transatlantic learning bridge between cities on both sides of the Atlantic. BUILD 2014 introduced these themes and established a transatlantic framework for understanding the opportunities and challenges of leading sustainable, inclusive, and globally engaged cities. At BUILD 2015, the exploration of these themes deepened by exchanging concrete policy tools and leadership tactics to move from ideas to action.

BUILD 2016: Urban Transformation in the Digital Age

At BUILD 2016, GMF added a new dimension to the exploration of urban transformation — the impact of the digital age on the people, places, and economies of transatlantic cities. The ability for transatlantic cities to be sustainable, inclusive, and globally engaged is simultaneously shaped and challenged by the reality of our interconnected, digital age. From new technologies to new attitudes, the range and rate of change can be overwhelming, forcing local leaders to adapt. The most recent BUILD unpacked the trends pushing urban transformation to the next level and challenged the paradigm of how local leaders can leverage the digital age to lead a change agenda in their cities. BUILD 2016 continued to utilize GMF’s transatlantic urban and regional policy framework that calls for an integrated, cross-sector agenda to activate people-place-economy for sustainability, inclusion, and global engagement. As such, BUILD focused on three policy themes that were the primary lenses to explore the complex topic of urban transformation in the digital age.

People: The future of work in our cities is rapidly changing — are we prepared or behind the curve?

Place: How can technology build better cities for people, and not just better cities for data?

Economy: The new economy is here to stay, but does it offer any hope for inclusive and equitable growth?