International Mayors‘ Conference NOW


How would we like to live together in our communities, as a society, and what do we have to do in order to get there?
The International Mayors’ Conferences NOW revolve around these questions, combining substantial exchange and innovative solutions while providing a motivating atmosphere for the participants. It focuses on regions, towns and villages, since our way of living together is shaped at the local level. To create actual impact, the NOW Conference is designed to empower its participants to spring into concrete action when back home.

NOW Conferences brings together local leaders, experts from civil society, research, international organisations and young people. The regional focus reaches from the Middle East to Northern Europe. This diverse mix of ambassadors for a better world makes it a unique platform to exchange and connect.

NOW Conferences are about taking the next step: Finding answers to acute topics, developing proposals on how to solve burning issues and co-operating to create innovative solutions. Participants share ideas to enable good decisions on institutional and civil society levels and take on responsibility in the question on what each and every one of us can contribute to achieve peaceful coexistence.

#Features of NOW Conferences:

  • Encouraging narrative: With their Sparkling Inputs, inspiring speakers share their personal journeys to show that a better world is possible and that everyone can contribute to that.
  • Innovative ways to exchange expertise: Promising Practices showcase tangible solutions on how to overcome local division.
  • From knowledge to action: Interactive workshops allow for hands-on learning and serve as laboratories to both experience and test ways to facilitate encounters.
  • Mutual appreciation and respect lay the foundation of our interaction.

Participants leave NOW Conferences with new insights, international contacts, knowledge and motivation – equipped with what the first steps towards improving their lives in their communities look like.

What makes NOW Conferences one of a kind:

  • Unique encounters: Due to the exceptional mixture of participants, at NOW Conferences you meet people from a variety of regions and professions – expanding your network while getting to know different cultures and ways of thinking.
  • Designed to cause action: At NOW Conferences, we analyse challenges, dynamics and circumstances. But instead of getting bogged down in theoretical debates, we explore how we can use that knowledge in order to actually change something to move our societies forward. That is why the formats are focussing on concrete solutions and how to bring them to life.
  • Encouraging narrative: With regards to the present world, we often feel powerless. A NOW Conference is a place to get to know a lot of examples that are living proof that a better world is possible and that each and everyone of us can make a difference by contributing to the common good.
  • Hearing the youth: Young people and their prospective lives are directly affected by decisions made today about how we choose to live together. Integrating their knowledge, insights and concerns is vital to shaping the future.
  • Connecting activities: Through a variety of sessions dedicated to connect participants and let them meet in an informal setting, participants become a community. Activities include an informal welcome dinner, evening sessions, maybe even fun dance numbers.
  • On an equal footing: At NOW Conferences everybody is regarded as an expert, participants meet on the same level and are encouraged to share insights. A variety of sessions are designed to give all participants the possibility to contribute with their views, skills and knowledge in an informal, non-intimidating setting.
  • Flexibility and Freedom to choose: The NOW Conference offers carefully designed formats aiming to initiate action. The participants can act freely and decide on the spot what topic and sessions interest them the most. By offering the opportunity to choose spontaneously, NOW Conferences provide space for flexibility and creativity.


NOW Local Action Forum


Inclusive, candid and on equal terms: The 7th International Mayors’ Conference NOW offered innovative formats in order to provide space for encounter and find ways to overcome division. From 16 – 18 February, 220 participants from over 30 countries from Europe, Turkey and the Middle East pondered 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 entered into a dialogue in the course of the conference.

International Mayors' Conference NOW in Vienna 2019


Returning to our motto of the 1st International Mayors’ Conference NOW in January 2016, “Listen, Learn, Ask, Answer”, the 6th NOW Conference “Promoting Social Cohesion – Youth Participation in our Communities” provided ample space for dialogue – frank, open, uncensored, and on equal terms – around the main topics of participation and education. Our aim was to co-create and develop bold ideas and projects, jointly led by young people as well as municipal and educational institutions, to shape the societies they are living in.


Social cohesion has become a burning issue for communities across Europe. The constant increase in social inequality, resulting in a rising polarisation of society, had been accentuated by the issue of integration of refugees and migrants. For the 5th time, the International Mayors’ Conference “Shaping the Future – Social Cohesion in our Cities” in Vienna brought together almost 200 participants to discuss and promote new political visions, public discourse, and impactful policies in order to improve social cohesion from a human rights perspective.


Africa is the youngest continent in the world with the largest population under 18 years of age. About 2 percent of all Africans leave the continent, often risking their lives. Africa’s youth need perspectives and support to become actors of change. The participants of the 4th NOW Conference “African Youth and Migration” discussed the situation of young people in Africa, their chances and challenges as well as the issues of migration and flight both within and beyond Africa.


The major challenges refugee children but also local children and young people in our societies face are violence, exploitation, trauma and lack of access to education. They all need protection, safe spaces for discovery, personal development, real chances for experiencing community, and access to quality education and health. The third NOW Conference “Children under the Radar” offered space to discuss key problems and share solutions in an area all too often overlooked, even though children make up half of all current refugees.


The NOW Conference in Athens focused on the EU-Turkey-Agreement as well as the effects and consequences of its implementation for local communities. Mayors from affected municipalities in Greece, Turkey and Italy met to assess the agreement together with representatives of NGOs, members of the European Parliament, experts and refugees, and to talk about their conclusions for future approaches and agreements concerning refugees both in the MENAT region and Europe.

NOW Conference Vienna 2016 Panel 3


The first NOW Conference was initiated and developed on the occasion of the massive refugee movement from civil war-torn Syria during the summer of 2015 as well as the striking cluelessness of national governments and the EU. As the basic idea was that living together takes place on a communal level, numerous mayors, experts, civil society representatives, and refugees from affected regions in ten countries – from Syria across the first host countries, Lebanon and Jordan, along the transit route (Turkey, Greece, Italy) to the receiving countries, Austria and Germany – were to be given an opportunity to discuss solutions for living together based on the values of democracy and human rights, to present good practices, and to exchange experiences in a two-day conference.