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18 October 2023

Fifteen exemplary cities shortlisted for the 6th Guangzhou Urban Innovation Award

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On 14 September, the 15 Shortlisted Cities of the 6th Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation (Guangzhou Award) were officially announced

Antalya, Türkiye; Bogotá, Colombia; Cape Town, South Africa; Gwangju, Korea; Halandri, Greece; Iztapalapa, Mexico; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kampala, Uganda; Kazan, Russia; Mannheim, Germany; Pimpri Chinchwad, India; Ramallah, Palestine; São Paulo, Brazil; Tehran, Iran; and Xianning, China. 

This Award cycle saw immense interest, with 274 initiatives from 193 cities and regions across 54 countries submitting valid applications. Five countries submitted for the first time. The selection, carried out by a Technical Committee of international experts, took place in Guangzhou during the week of 11 September 2023. The Committee’s evaluation was informed by criteria such as innovation, effectiveness, context, and replicability – and made sure to include alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda. Out of the numerous submissions, 45 were highlighted as exemplary, but only 15 cities had the distinction of making the sought-after shortlist.

Zhang Yajie, Vice Chairman of Guangzhou Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG and Jordi Vaquer, Secretary General of the Metropolis, speaking at the event, expressed their appreciation of Guangzhou’s contribution to urban innovation and sustainable development globally. 

Following their inputs, Azza Sirry, Chair of the Technical Committee proudly announced the 15 shortlisted cities of this year’s Award, remarking that many submissions with high-quality initiatives were received. Whether from the perspective of urban innovative development, or the attention to social inclusion and civic participation, these initiatives all boasted relatively-advanced representativeness and reference value.

A dialogue on the topic of high-quality development and urban innovation saw Kobie Brand, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI, together with other experts and scholars, discuss how to make cities healthier, safer and more liveable spaces through modern governance and sustained innovation.


“It was an honour to be selected as part of the technical committee of experts that evaluated the submissions, which was an extremely rewarding experience,” said Ms Brand. “The Guangzhou Award not only focuses on excellence, but takes networking exchange and learning very seriously, with ongoing interaction with the selected cities, a unique feature of this award. Only together, can we confront the immense challenges that lie ahead, but most importantly, also seize the opportunities that our cities present.”
Kobie Brand
Deputy Secretary General: ICLEI, Regional Director: ICLEI Africa


The Guangzhou Award has been co-sponsored by the City of Guangzhou, UCLG and Metropolis since 2012. It has collected more than 1,300 examples of urban innovation initiatives worldwide, becoming a global platform for knowledge creation and city-to-city exchange on urban innovation.

The final assessment of the Guangzhou Award will be held from 6 to 10 November 2023. To promote knowledge sharing, this assessment phase will be designed as International Seminars on Learning from Urban Innovation, where the 15 shortlisted cities will present their initiatives. The seminars will be open to the public to allow experiences and lessons from the shortlisted cities to have a wider benefit. The Guangzhou Award Ceremony will be held after the official Jury’s decision and upon the conclusion of the Global Mayors’ Forum in December 2023.

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