Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Bloomberg Commonwealth city champions 

16 June 2021

Thirteen Commonwealth cities from over six hundred applications have been selected by a committee of global experts to be part of the Bloomberg Philanthrophies 50 Champion Cities 2021. Of these 50 cities, 15 will win $1 million each—to help them implement their breakthrough ideas and, ultimately, to spread their ideas to other cities around the world.

Boldest urban innovations

They represent the boldest urban innovations of the past year and will advance to the finalist stage of the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, a worldwide competition that encourages and shares cities’ most promising ideas. This year’s Challenge focuses on the most important innovations generated in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. A highly competitive applicant pool, 631 cities in 99 countries submitted their best ideas for consideration; twice as many that applied for the last Mayors Challenge held in 2018.

Doing more with less

Creating successful cities, where everyone can thrive, has always been a challenge. COVID-19, however, has changed daily life for people around the world and has required cities to do more, but with fewer resources than ever before. Yet, even in the face of a public-health crisis, massive budget shortfalls, and mounting climate disasters, mayors are taking bold steps to tackle their cities’ most pressing challenges. 

The finalists were selected according to four criteria:

  • vision;
  • potential for impact;
  • feasibility; and
  • transferability.


Subjects include health, reducing unemployment, social inclusion and racial justice.  In Africa where, like many parts of the Commonwealth, the rate of urbanisation is one of the most pressing challenges, infrastructure was a dominant subject. Demonstrating the increasingly inclusive nature of local government, nearly half of the submissions were developed, in part, through participatory processes with local citizens. 

Sustainable urbanisation

CLGF Secretary-General, Lucy Slack said: “We congratulate all 50 finalists. We are so proud of all the Commonwealth applicants and send our warm congratulations to the 13 successful cities. Sustainable urbanisation is a key priority for CLGF members with so much expansion taking place in the Commonwealth. We are looking to use our own Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network as a vehicle to share experience and innovation, working alongside key partners to build safe, sustainable and inclusive cities for the future that work for everyone.”

“These 50 finalists are showing the world that, in the face of the pandemic’s enormous challenges, cities are rising to meet them with bold, innovative, and ambitious ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “By helping these cities test their ideas over the coming months, we will have a chance to identify cutting-edge policies and programs that can allow cities to rebuild in ways that make them stronger and healthier, and more equal and more just.” 

Learn more about the 13 successful Commonwealth cities:

Auckland, New Zealand
Cape Town, South Africa 
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Glasgow, UK
Kigali, Rwanda 
Kumasi, Ghana

London, UK
Lusaka, Zambia
Mersu, Kenya
Pune, India
Rourkela, India

Umuake, Nigeria

Wellington, New Zealand



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