Somewhat bleary-eyed having flown into Manchester this morning after a couple of days in Chicago. I had been attending ( at the invitation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD )'s Secretary-General, the US Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, the Mayor of Chicago, and as Chair of the C40 Group of Cities the Mayor of New York ) the fourth meeting of the OECD's Mayors and Ministers Roundtable to talk about mobilizing investments for urban sustainability, job creation and resilient growth.
The conference brought together around twenty mayors and a similar number of government ministers from every continent along with a smattering of ex-PMs and Presidents for a long day of intensive discussion. Unlike most conferences, it was very light on big set speeches, and after the introductions by the hosts who also co-chaired, contributions were limited to three minutes at a time. That meant there was a lot of time to share knowledge and experience and to thinkabout how we can use public sector leverage to promote green growth.
The second day saw the presentation of an OECD report into the Chicago tri-state area - their equivalent of Greater Manchester but with four times the population in an area of 14 counties across Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and with a couple of thousand municipalities and other elected public bodies. Interestingly many of the issues facing the area resonate with the conclusions of the Manchester Independent Economic Review published in 2009 and I had been asked to respond to the presentation of the report. The item from my response that really attracted attention was the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and a large number of delegates grappling with issues of metropolitan governance in their own cities and countries wanted more information on the CA. Also took the opportunity for a couple of other meetings whilst there, most notably with the Chief Executive of AON, a company with a relatively well-publicised relationship with Manchester ( and seven out of the ten GM Councils are also AON customers ) but who also support research at Manchester University into safer and more effective ways of doing mine clearance, and with the British Consul-General talking about how we can grow trade and investment with Chicago and the wider mid-west.