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Fourth Global Summit

Strong Cities
Fourth Global Summit

In September 2023, Strong Cities Network hosted its Fourth Global Summit, during the high-level opening week of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Summit convened more than 100 mayors and local leaders together with local government representatives and CSO practitioners from more than 115 cities across 45 countries for a multi-dimensional programme to showcase the unique contributions they have made and will continue to make to prevent and respond to the rising levels of hate and extremism.

Strong Cities is grateful to all participants for their invaluable contributions throughout the Summit and extends its gratitude to the Summit’s sponsors and partners for supporting these efforts.

Beautiful Lower Manhattan skyline. Buildings of New York.

Global Summit Announcements

Event Reports

The Summit agenda included 11 events, providing participants with opportunities to learn from city-led innovations and approaches to prevent and respond to rising hate, extremism and polarisation.

Widening the Lens: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to City-Led Prevention and Response to Hate and Extremism

The Summit started with a full-day event in partnership with Columbia SIPA on innovations, approaches and lessons that local governments can apply from other sectors, such as climate change, data, technology and urban development, to the prevention of hate and extremism.

Engaging Local Governments in the Prevention and Response to Violent Extremism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

The first day of the programme also provided mayors and other city officials from MENA with the opportunity to directly engage UNCTED on its work in the region, which typically focuses on national governments. It offered city officials a rare opportunity to engage directly with the UN on the prevention agenda, enabling them to share their approaches to and challenges with preventing hate, extremism and polarisation, while also learning more about the work of UNCTED as a leading entity in the UN counter-terrorism and P/CVE architecture.

International Steering Committee Meeting

The Summit featured the first meeting of Strong Cities’ revitalised International Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Mayor Asmaa Rhlalou of Rabat (Morocco) and Mayor Jan Van Zanen of The Hague (The Netherlands). The Committee endorsed Strong Cities’ three-year strategy and several proposals for new initiatives, including the formation of a Women’s Leadership Caucus and a “Friends of Strong Cities” group that will allow the network to deepen and expand cooperation with multilateral bodies, other city networks, local government associations and other key stakeholders.

Unlocking the Potential of Cities to Contribute to Whole-of-Society Efforts to Rehabilitate and Reintegrate Returnees from Conflict Zones

Informed by findings from Strong Cities’ global engagements with cities, which shows that local governments across the world are concerned about their ability to effectively and sustainably reintegrate returnees from conflict zones, the Summit featured a workshop that brought together more than 50 mayors, local government officials and frontline practitioners to share good practices and lessons learned on rehabilitation and reintegration (R&R) relevant for cities.

Unlocking the Potential of Cities to Address Hate Speech

The roundtable on the role of local governments in addressing hate speech, was co-organised with UNOCT and the UNOSAPG in light of the growing number of mayors and other city officials who have voiced concern to Strong Cities about the rising levels of hate in their communities, the potential for hate speech in particular to manifest into violence and challenges with mounting an effective response amidst its rapid spread – often fuelled by misinformation – via social media.

Transatlantic Dialogue Initiative Working Lunch

Strong Cities’ Transatlantic Dialogue Initiative recognises that threats of hate and extremism are increasingly transnational, with extremist groups and hate-based narratives in North America inspiring European hate movements and vice versa. Since launching the Initiative in October 2021, Strong Cities has regularly brought city officials from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean together to enhance transatlantic cooperation on these challenges and discuss practices for mitigating them from escalating further. The working lunch offered North American and European participants of the Global Summit with the opportunity to reflect on the Initiative’s successes so far and to inform its forward agenda.

Enhancing Global-Local Cooperation: Realising the Potential of Mayors and Local Governments in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

The dialogue with the GCTF presented a rare opportunity for GCTF national-level representatives to hear directly from and engage with city leaders on their approaches to addressing hate and extremism in their cities, the challenges they face and the support they need to enhance their work. Local leaders from cities in Botswana, Tanzania and Uganda spoke about their prevention efforts as part of a wider conversation about the role of African mayors in addressing hate and extremism. City leaders from Bangladesh, Germany, Kenya and Libya then contributed to a discussion about operationalising and sustaining inclusive, city-led approaches to prevention. R

Peace & Security City Networks Coordination Meeting

Building on a similar roundtable during the April 2023 Cities Summit of the Americas, Strong Cities, The Carter Center, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Peace in Our Cities to explore synergies and potential areas for collaboration. The meeting included representatives from the City of Edmonton (Canada), which participates in several city networks, to provide a local government perspective on how these initiatives can engage cities in a more coherent and synergistic way.

Mayoral Meeting

Hosted by Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City

The Mayoral Meeting convened 150+ mayors, governors and other local leaders from across the world at Gracie Mansion (the official residence of the Mayor of the City of New York), to spotlight their role in addressing hate, extremism and polarisation. In his opening remarks, New York City Mayor Adams highlighted the whole-of-city efforts to foster social cohesion and prevent hate crimes in what is one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the world. Through a series of keynote remarks and panel discussions, mayors from nearly two dozen cities around the globe shared their experiences, successes and challenges in building resilient, inclusive and ‘strong’ cities.

Enhancing Global-Local Cooperation in Protecting Soft Targets and Engaging Local Communities

Strong Cities partnered with UNCTED and NYU’s Center for Global Affairs to host a workshop that brought together more than 40 local government officials, frontline practitioners and representatives from UNCTED and other UN agencies to strengthen understanding amongst local governments of relevant UN frameworks, as well as showcase for multilateral representatives existing city-led efforts to protect soft targets and engage communities, including those that are “hard to reach”.

Whole-of-City Approach to Preventing Hate & Extremism: The New York City Model

The Global Summit ended with a half-day workshop on Whole-of-City Models for Prevention, held in partnership with NYU’s Center for Global Affairs and New York City’s OPHC, which coordinates multiple city agencies and community-based partners to reduce hate crime and related harms in what is one of the world’s most diverse and largest cities. This event was inspired by both OPHC’s achievements and the innovative multi-actor efforts that other cities across Strong Cities’ membership and beyond are deploying to address hate, extremism and polarisation, and to foster inclusive and resilient communities. The workshop featured a series of panels in which local government representatives were invited to share their successes and challenges with such efforts.


The Strong Cities Network Fourth Global Summit was made possible with generous support from the European Union, U.S. Department of State and Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others.


Strong Cities also thanks the Global Summit’s institutional partners.