Urban Exchange: Cities on the Frontlines
Urban Exchange Episode 4: Francis Suarez, Mayor of Miami

Urban Exchange Episode 4: Francis Suarez, Mayor of Miami

November 11, 2021

Episode four of the Urban Exchange podcast comes direct from Cop26 in Glasgow, as Resilient Cities Network executive director, Lauren Sorkin, hosts Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, to reflect on Cop26, climate adaptation and mitigation, and the Mayor’s role in futureproofing Miami through digital technology.


To begin with, Mayor Suarez gives his take on progress at Cop26 and whether he truly believes cities have a seat at the negotiating table during this most crucial of climate conferences. He also explains the trends from the conference that he believes are going to make the biggest impact on climate action plans moving forward, and the importance being held to account on climate promises by new generations.

Later, Mayor Suarez details the specific threats facing Miami in the form of extreme weather and why, personally, climate action is so pivotal to him and his citizens, as Lauren asks whether the shocking weather events in unexpected places in the last year – such as China, Germany and the Netherlands – have become the norm for Miami, and how to mitigate that.

This opens up the conversation to focus on reversing some of the change that cities have seen in recent years, and the resilience plans that Miami has invested in to adapt to, withstand and undo some of the most adverse effects the changing climate has delivered.

Following on from this, Mayor Suarez gives his take on the value of collaboration, global coalitions and networks in delivering the kind of change and resilience that cities truly need, as he explains the part that Miami plays in the number of networks that it’s a member of.

Finally, the Mayor delivers his opinion on the reasons that we can be hopeful and optimistic for the future, considering all of the above, explaining the huge role that individuals can play in changing the situation.

Urban Exchange Episode 3: Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council

Urban Exchange Episode 3: Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council

October 20, 2021

On the third episode of the Urban Exchange podcast, Jeff Risom, chief innovation officer at Gehl Architects and member of the SmartCitiesWorld advisory board, speaks with Glasgow City Council leader, Susan Aitken, to discuss urban design for a sustainable future and why Glasgow is the perfect host for COP26.

During the conversation, Jeff discovers how Councillor Aitken came to be in her position on Glasgow’s City Council today, as the councillor reflects on her political activism through the years, the events that led her into elected office, and how her view of the city has changed since taking office.

Diving into Glasgow as host of COP26, Councillor Aitken explains why the city feels like its in transition in regards to its climate and sustainability efforts, detailing how its move from a post-industrial city is presenting new green opportunities for social justice and urban development.

Jeff also gets into the thick of Glasgow’s £30 billion investment plan to become a net zero city by 2030, as Councillor Aitken details the infrastructure interventions that make up a significant part of the work in the bold plan, and the potential to tackle fuel poverty through renewables, among other things such as transport and connectivity.

Elsewhere, the Councillor reflects on the role of citizens in sustainability efforts, explaining why the narrative should change from giving things up to making better choices, and the difference such a message has for all types of people in communities.

Later in the episode, Jeff and Councillor Aitken discuss the need for changing leadership styles as urban challenges and requirements also change over time.

The Urban Exchange podcast is produced by SmartCitiesWorld and the Resilience Cities Network, with support on this episode from The World Bank.

Urban Exchange Episode 2: Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, City of Rotterdam

Urban Exchange Episode 2: Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb, City of Rotterdam

October 13, 2021

Episode 2 of the Urban Exchange podcast welcomes the City of Rotterdam’s Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb as its special guest, as he discusses how to advance urban resilience for climate adaptation with the Resilient Cities Network’s (R-Cities) executive director, Lauren Sorkin. 

During the discussion, Mayor Aboutaleb speaks about the challenges facing his city at the moment, the steps he’s taking to face them, and the importance of collaboration in building resilience against them. 

As part of R-Cities’ Board, the Mayor explains to Lauren his reasons for committing himself to urban resilience – not only for the sake of Rotterdam, but for cities around the world. Mayor Aboutaleb describes the steps and actions required to onboard other cities with regards to the urban resilience agenda and narrative, plus, how coalitions such as ‘1000 Cities Adapt Now’ are important to making progress to the global challenges facing cities. 

Mayor Aboutaleb also reflects on his time in office, 12 years after he originally took up his position as Mayor of Rotterdam. He explains how he has changed the city’s approach to building resilience in that time, how he has taken citizen engagement to a new level, and how community cohesion helps to contribute to achieving objectives around resilience. 

Elsewhere, the Mayor speaks specifically about climate resiliency in Rotterdam, describing how cities must continue to innovate to protect against climate stresses, what this looks like in Rotterdam and across the Netherlands, and which examples of climate resilience innovation he finds most impressive. 

Following on from this, Lauren invites Mayor Aboutaleb to share his hopes and expectations for the crucial upcoming COP26 talks in Glasgow, with the Mayor revealing the role that he believes Rotterdam can play in leading on climate action, and, in line with SmartCitiesWorld’s COP26 open letter campaign, the role that cities will play in achieving the climate action goals and objectives that follow. 

The Urban Exchange podcast is produced by SmartCitiesWorld and the Resilience Cities Network, with support on this episode from The World Bank. 

Urban Exchange Episode 1: Mayor Sylvester Turner, City of Houston

Urban Exchange Episode 1: Mayor Sylvester Turner, City of Houston

October 7, 2021

Cities on the Frontlines: Resilient Infrastructure


Preview: The first episode of the Urban Exchange podcast sees Mayor Turner of Houston, the Chair of the Resilient Cities Network Board of Directors, in conversation with Paul Wilson, Chair of the SmartCitiesWorld Advisory Board. Together, they discuss Houston’s definition of resilience, Houston’s plans to build resilience, and why Houston’s status as an energy city places specific emphasis on its climate action plans.

Urban Exchange: Cities on the Frontlines Trailer

Urban Exchange: Cities on the Frontlines Trailer

October 5, 2021

Urban Exchange: Cities on the Frontlines is the podcast series from SmartCitiesWorld and the Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities), delivering frank and open conversations between international city leaders and industry practitioners that share ideas to solve urban challenges.

With the world’s cities under pressure to deliver a sustainable future for more than half of the global population – a figure that is consistently trending upwards – the Urban Exchange provides a platform for the people driving urban innovation and change to share their ideas and insights with those that need them most.

As cities seek a future that is environmentally, economically, and socially resilient and sustainable, each episode of the podcast plays host to an in-depth conversation between a city leader and a smart city specialist to uncover the initiatives that cities are working on to deliver on these goals.

Co-hosted by R-Cities’ Executive Director, Lauren Sorkin, and SmartCitiesWorld’s Advisory Board Chair, Paul Wilson, the Urban Exchange is a much-needed forum for city practitioners faced with urgent targets and objectives across a gamut of urban issues.

Take a look at the latest episode below and subscribe to the series to make sure you don’t miss an episode.

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