6 February 2024

Mayor Elke Kahr of ICLEI Member Graz receives the 2023 World Mayor Prize

Initially, 92 worldwide mayors competed for the 2023 World Mayor Prize and Awards, but only nine emerged as finalists, with Mayor Elke Kahr of ICLEI Member Graz (Austria), ultimately winning the title.

Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director for ICLEI Europe said, “In times when many leaders are struggling with a just transition, it is great to see that Mayor Kahr of Graz, who puts social justice and sustainability at the centre of her policy, is recognised with the World Mayor Award.

Since its establishment in 2004, this biennial award, granted by the London-based non-profit research think tank City Mayors Foundation, has honoured mayors who have worked tirelessly to benefit all citizens, regardless of race, gender, religion, politics, or legal status. In a press release, they elaborated on the decision:

Mayor Elke Kahr was honoured for her selfless commitment to her city and its citizens.” And further: “For Mayor Kahr, local politics means wanting the best for all people in Graz, without forgetting the individual concerns of individual fellow citizens. Her decision to share a large portion of her salary with those in need has attracted worldwide admiration. Mayor Kahr has proven that citizen-centred politics can be compelling and successful.

With nearly 300,000 inhabitants, Graz is Austria’s second-largest city after Vienna. Mayor Kahr has served since 2021.

All finalists were invited to contribute an essay about their leadership’s insights during the award process. Mayor Kahr wrote:

Personal contact with people, with the citizens of Graz, has always been the most important aspect for me as a local politician. I spend as much time as possible in all parts of the city. I visit people in their homes and hold surgeries. It is important to talk to people face-to-face to learn about their problems and concerns. I don’t need studies to know where the shoe pinches. My message for my city is ‘Together we are Graz’. My city will have a glorious future if we stop labeling and categorising people.

To know more about Mayor Elke Kahr, read her full essay here.

This article is adapted from a piece by the ICLEI World Secretariat. Read the original article here.