16 – 18 February 2020

Space for Encounter – Overcoming Division

7th International Mayors’ Conference NOW in Vienna

Open, inclusive, candid, and on equal terms: the 7th International Mayors’ Conference NOW will offer innovative formats in order to provide space for encounter and find ways to overcome division. From 16 to 18 February, 220 participants from 30 countries from Europe, Turkey and the Middle East will ponder how to best promote social cohesion, facilitate participation and enact change in a time marked by division. Mayors and municipal decision-makers, young people, representatives of NGOs and numerous international experts will enter into a dialogue during the conference.

More than ever before, tensions and growing divisions are endangering our societies. Hate speech, social media filter bubbles, incitement to antagonize each other based on cultural, social, economic and religious differences have become everyday phenomena.

Finding ways to bring people together is crucial: at “Space for Encounter – Overcoming Division“, the International Mayors’ Conference NOW, hosted by Act.Now from 16 to 18 February 2020 for the seventh time, mayors, young citizens from all walks of life, community workers, innovative NGOs, renowned researchers and practitioners, social entrepreneurs and urban planners from the Middle East to Northern Europe will come together to work on how social cohesion and youth participation in wide-reaching decisions can be established at the local level. Uniting people from diverse backgrounds in a common goal is the objective of the two-day conference in Vienna.

The event will take place under the auspices of Austrian Federal President, Dr. Alexander Van der Bellen, and is organised in cooperation with the City of Vienna, represented by Mag. Jürgen Czernohorszky (Executive City Councillor for Education, Integration, Youth and Personnel) who will open the conference together with Mag. Doris Schmidauer, First Lady of Austria, and the founders of Act.Now, André Heller, Patricia Kahane and Elke Zuckermann.

Sparkling Inputs: Inspirational Speeches

“Sparkling Inputs” – short inspiring speeches – will introduce new perspectives, showcase solutions and provide inspiration as well as ample material for discussion to all attendees.

Promising Practices: Exemplary Enterprises

Promising Practices are successful flagship projects in the areas of youth participation, social cohesion, education, and integration. These exemplary projects aim to inspire others to follow suit.

Workshops: Getting Down to Business

Interactive workshops will allow for hands-on learning. They operate under the premise “From Knowledge to Action” and focus on how to transform the expertise gathered into action and tangible change at the local level.

Mayors under Pressure: Exploring Local Challenges

Mayors face a lot of pressure from the public; at times they are subjected to hostile verbal attacks or even death threats. Isabella Conti, Mayor of San Lazzaro di Savenat, Italy, Tjark Bartels, former Head of Administration of Hameln-Pyrmont District, Germany, Igor Marentič, Mayor of Postojna, Slovenia, and Mohamad Saadieh, Mayor of Dannieh, Lebanon will take part in a discussion on some of the challenges they are facing. During this talk, they will report on their experiences with ethnic conflicts, right-wing populism and hate speech, and deliberate possible solutions.

Fishbowl Discussion: Bridging the Gap

Mayors, practitioners and young people will discuss the key conference findings in order to connect the conference and the actions of the participants at the local level.