The mayors of Malmo and Ghent spoke at the 4th Annual Convention of the European Platform Against Poverty and Social Exclusion (EPAP) in Brussels on 20-21 November.
The EPAP is an EU-wide initiative, bringing stakeholders together to discuss how to reach the Europe 2020 target of lifting at least 20 million people out of poverty by 2020.
Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, mayor of Malmo, and Daniël Termont, mayor of Ghent and EUROCITIES vice president, were panellists in a debate on social innovation for better outcomes in cities.
Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh emphasised that city authorities must take the lead in innovation by setting up and funding projects to test new ideas. She gave numerous examples of how cities can gauge needs and innovate through engagement with local communities, NGOs, social partners and businesses.
She said: "To awaken the entrepreneurial spirit of young people from all layers of society, we need to show them that no matter where they come from and how much money they have, if they have a good idea, society will make it happen."
Daniël Termont highlighted that local authorities are best placed to solve local challenges, but not without EU support. He expressed concern that Europe is on the verge of losing a whole generation if high levels of youth unemployment continue. He emphasised that the key to solving poverty and exclusion is to analyse the impact of every single policy on vulnerable groups.
We co-organised a 'world cafe' on the issues of identifying, scaling up and funding social innovation, as well as mobilising young people for social entrepreneurship. Representatives from Barcelona and Glasgow also contributed to the workshops on social investment and Roma inclusion by presenting good practices from the local level.
The mayors had a brief meeting with Marianne Thyssen, the new commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility. This meeting is a step towards strenghtening future collaboration between the EU and cities in fighting poverty and exclusion.