Cities and Social Solutions: a webinar series on building inclusive and thriving communities

Cities and Social Solutions

Get inspired by our moderated webinar series featuring the inspiring voices of those who design and manage some of the world’s most impactful urban social policies.

Inequities of all kinds often find their most pronounced and visible expression in cities. In response, a growing number of municipal administrations are combining local participatory action with national and international knowledge exchange, thus becoming laboratories for impactful and sustainable social solutions.

Between February and May 2024, the City Diplomacy Lab and Columbia Global Centers | Paris brought together the representatives of cities that have implemented some of the most impactful and sustainable social actions.

The four webinars of the Cities and Social Solutions series covered the local challenges and solutions regarding social justice, gender, inclusion, and age. Each webinar saw the participation of representatives of three champion cities from different continents.

This series celebrates the leadership of cities and provides inspiration for the thousands of cities and local governments around the world committed to shaping an equitable future for all urban residents.

Cities and Social Solutions | Social Justice (February 15, 2024)

How do we transform cities from hubs of multiple and intersecting inequalities into laboratories for developing and deploying the most effective solutions for social justice?

Key topics: inclusive growth; housing, employment; education; access to amenities; support for families and young people; social security; safety.

Partner: Global Leeds

Cities represented: eThekwini (City of Durban, South Africa), Leeds (United Kingdom), and New Orleans (United States).


  • Roshini Bob, Project Executive, Community, and Emergency Services Cluster, eThekwini Municipality
  • Liz Jarmin, Head of Locality Partnerships, Leeds City Council
  • Kahlida Nicole Lloyd, Director, Office of Human Rights and Equity, City of New Orleans

Moderator: Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi, Founding Director, City Diplomacy Lab

Cities and Social Solutions | Gender (March 14, 2024)

Ambitious gender equity goals are driving the local policies and international advocacy of a growing number of cities. What are the concrete results of this engagement in urban communities? What impact does the “voice of cities” for gender equity have on the international stage?

Key topics: gender equity; gender-based discrimination; women, gender diverse and feminist leaders; equitable gender representation in local politics; care and well-being; feminist municipal movement.

Partner: City Hub and Network for Gender Equity (CHANGE).

Cities represented: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Freetown (Sierra Leone), and Louisville (United States).


  • Micaela Saban, General Director of Women’s Economic Autonomy, City of Buenos Aires
  • Manja Kargbo, Team Lead, Mayor’s Delivery Unit, City of Freetown
  • Gretchen Hunt, Director, Office for Women, Louisville Metro Government

Opening remarks by Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi, City Diplomacy Lab Founding Director.

Moderation by Leslie Crosdale, CHANGE Co-Executive Director.

Languages: English and Spanish, with simultaneous interpretation.

Cities and Social Solutions | Inclusion (April 18, 2024)

How can cities promote inclusion through policies and services? And how can they join forces to accomplish such a purpose?

Key topics: migrant and refugee reception and integration; accessibility of municipal services to migrants; integration of migrants into local political life; countering fake news; diversity; sanctuary cities.

Partner: UNESCO International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities − ICCAR.

Cities represented: Barcelona (Spain), Gwangju (South Korea), Montevideo (Uruguay).


  • Ana Isabel Rodriguez Basanta, Director, Department of Human Rights, City of Barcelona
  • Gyonggu Shin, Special Adviser to the Mayor of Gwangju and Executive Director of the Gwangju International Center
  • Fabiana Goyeneche, Director of International Relations, City of Montevideo

Opening remarks by Euan Mackway-Jones, Program Specialist, UNESCO

Moderator: Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi, Founding Director, City Diplomacy Lab.

Cities and Social Solutions | Age (May 16, 2024)

How can cities foster the full participation of senior citizens in community life and promote healthy and active aging? What is the added value of international city-to-city cooperation in achieving such a goal?

Key topics: child rights at the local level; participation of older people in community life; healthy and active aging; integration of age-related equity goals into urban planning.

Partners: WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities and the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center.

Cities represented: Cardiff (United Kingdom), Cockburn (Australia), and Sharjah (United Arab Emirates).


  • Nicola Pitman, Age-Friendly Lead Officer, Cardiff Council
  • Julie McDonald​​​​, Seniors Centre Coordinator, City of Cockburn
  • Asma Alkhudari, Director of Sharjah Age-Friendly Office

Opening remarks by John R. Beard, Director, International Longevity Center – USA, Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, and Thiago Hérick de Sá, Technical Officer, Age-friendly Environments, World Health Organization.

Moderation by Andrew Wells, Program Coordinator, Columbia Global Centers | Paris.