New Democracy #7: Benjamin Barber – What if Mayors Rule the World?

Dr. Benjamin Barber about the importance of cities and the role of mayors.

In his most recent book ‘If Mayors Ruled the World’ Dr. Benjamin Barber argues that cities are the most promising place to find answers to the major challenges of the 21ste centuries. The nation state, once democracy’s best hope, is now dysfunctional and obsolete. Tonight Dr. Barber will explain his ideas on the importance of cities and the role of mayors in addressing challenges such as climate change, economic inequality and refugees.

Dr. Barber will present the project of the Global Parliament of Mayors. Professor Christian Iaione (LabGov) will join in for a dialogue about the role mayors have in spurring the emergence of new governance structures rooted in the social and innovative practices of City Makers, and the role they have in interlocally connecting cities to create more impact by sharing knowledge and experience, and formulating a joint strategy.


Following the publication of his book, Dr. Barber initiated the The Global Parliament of Mayors project (GMP). the project is an unprecedented new experiment in democratic global governance platform by, for, and of cities. The GMP brings together Mayors from cities large and small, north and south and developed and emerging. In this event Dr. Barber will present the ideas behind the GMP and will explain where the project will take those ideas in practical terms.

An important force in today’s cities are the active citizens, social entrepreneurs and social innovators working bottom-up and experimenting to improve their own neighbourhoods and cities. Professor Christian Iaione (LabGov) and Amalia Zepou (Vice Mayor for Civil Society and Municipality Decentralization, Athens) will join Dr. Barber for a dialogue about the role mayors have in spurring the emergence of new governance structures rooted in the social and innovative practices of City Makers, and the role they have in inter-locally, connecting cities to create more impact by sharing knowledge and experience, and formulating a joint strategy.

Dr. Benjamin Barber

Benjamin R. Barber is a Visiting Research Scholar at The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, and the President and Founder of the Interdependence Movement as well as the new project for a Global Parliament of Mayors growing out of his new book: If Mayors Ruled The World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities, (Yale University Press). He is Walt Whitman Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Rutgers University.

An internationally renowned political theorist, Barber brings an abiding concern for democracy and citizenship to issues of politics, globalization, culture and education in America and abroad. He consults regularly with political and civic leaders in the U.S. (he was an advisor to President Clinton and Governor Howard Dean) and abroad, and is currently working with over one hundred cities and mayors around the world on the Global Parliament of Mayor project.

Benjamin Barber’s 18 books include the 2014 If Mayors Ruled the World; the classic Strong Democracy (1984) and the international best-seller Jihad vs. McWorld (1995), with a new 20th anniversary edition Jihad vs. McWorld: Isis on the Internet, forthcoming in 2016. The Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival has chosen Jihad vs. McWorld as a primary theme book for its 2015 festival. Barber has just completed Stopping Hot Cold: Cities and Climate Change, which will appear in 2016.

Professor Christian Iaione

Christian Iaione is founder of the think-tank Laboratory for the Governance of Commons (LabGov). He is pioneering in Italy with students, citizens and the city government on institutional innovation, of which the Bologna’s Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons has been the most impactful.

Christian Iaione is Associate Professor of Public Law at Guglielmo Marconi University of Rome, fellow of the Urban Law Center at Fordham University, and visiting Professor of Governance of the Commons at LUISS Guido Carli where he directs LabGov. Iaione is appointed by the EU Committee of the Regions to draft the opinion on the “Local and regional dimension of the sharing economy“.

Christian has published several articles in the field of public and administrative law and, in particular, land use, public goods and the commons, public services and public contracts, urban law and local government. He has authored two books on “The in house publicly-owned companies. Contribution to the principle of self-organizatin and self-production of local governments” (Jovene, 2007 – 2012, II ed.) and “The regulation of urban mobility” (Jovene, 2008) and has co-authored Italy of the Commons (Carocci, 2012). Iaione’s current research focus is on governance of the commons, in particular urban commons and knowledge commons, sharing economy, collaborative economy, social innovation, and public-private-commons partnerships.

Amalia Zepou

Amalia Zepou was elected as a member of the Athens Municipality City Council in May 2014 and since September 2015, she has been the Vice Mayor for Civil Society and Municipality Decentralization. In April 2013, she became an advisor to the Mayor of Athens, Mr Yorgos Kaminis. She created the platform “synAthina” which was further developed into an idea that won one of the five Mayors Challenge awards from Bloomberg Philanthropies in September 2014.

Prior to the Municipality she worked as an independent documentary producer. In 2007, she got involved in several neighbourhood projects and was awarded as ‘Eco-hero’ by the Athens Municipality in 2010. She has a B.A. in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research in New York in 1991.

Evenement gegevens

Event details