Mayors from across the globe to gather in Chicago next spring to discuss the potential of waterfronts on urban development

As mayors of major cities worldwide consider how to drive economic opportunity, create new public spaces and find more environmentally sustainable uses for aging infrastructure, they are increasingly turning to the development of urban waterfronts. To harness the power of that movement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo today announced that the City of Chicago and the City of Paris will co-host a worldwide mayoral forum in Chicago on March 13, 2017 to foster an international conversation about the future of urban waterfronts.

"The Chicago River and the Seine have defined our history, but they are also our future – economically, environmentally and recreationally. And we are not alone,” said Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel. “As we reimagine, redevelop and reinvest in our waterfronts in Chicago, we can learn from cities across the world undergoing similar transformations – and they can learn from Chicago as well.” 

The Mayors made the announcement at a joint press conference during the C40 Mayors Summit 2016 in Mexico City.

"In Paris we have pedestrianised the banks of the right bank of the Seine as part of our plans to transform the city for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists," said Mayor of Paris and chair of C40, Anne Hidalgo. "I am looking forward to meeting with Mayor Emanuel in Chicago to share our experience. This is the key idea behind the C40 network, for cities to collaborate and inspire each other so we can deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement."

Urban waterfronts – whether on rivers, lakes, seas or oceans – have always been natural centers of gravity. For thousands of years, cities around the world were built around bodies of water, first because they are a critical resource and later because they sustain trade and commerce. Transportation and manufacturing have evolved and the old industrial waterfronts that turned into unused land are again ripe for new design, development and purpose.

Completed and planned waterfront redevelopment projects are underway in Chicago, Paris and cities around the world that elevate the questions with which global city leaders are grappling as they prioritize their investments.

In Chicago, the recently extended 1.25 mile Riverwalk and the completion of a fourth boat house along the Chicago River demonstrates the Mayor's commitment to increase access to and recreational opportunities on the river, as outlined in both his Building on Burnham plan and Our Great Rivers, a forward looking action agenda for Chicago's three rivers. 

This forum will provide mayors the opportunity to exchange ideas and solutions on mixed-use development projects so that waterfront land can be activated to simultaneously generate direct and indirect economic, environmental and social benefits for the city as a whole.

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