Butuan among 50 finalists for Bloomberg Global Mayors Challenge

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews / 16 June) – From 631 cities around the world that submitted applications early this year for the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, Butuan was chosen as among the top 50 finalists, which makes it one step closer to the $1-million grant that aims to elevate important innovations generated in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

A farmer in Butuan City. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the top 50 finalists Wednesday morning Philippine time via its website hosted by Johns Hopkins University.

Butuan, a first class highly urbanized city in the Caraga Region, focuses on leveraging predictive data to bolster local farmers.

“Butuan faces high rates of hunger and food insecurity, in part because of its struggles around local food production. The city will fine-tune an ineffective agricultural market by giving farmers predictive data to make better decisions about the type and amount of crops to plant, and fix some commodity prices to reduce risk on vegetables and high-demand foods,” Bloomberg Cities Network said in a statement.

Mayor Ronie Vicente Lagnada stated they are hoping that the positive outcome of the competition will ensure an adequate supply of affordable and nutritious food while improving the food logistics and value chain system in the city.

“Our city looks forward to joining and learning from the global community of innovative cities as we work to improve upon our idea in the months ahead,” Lagnada added.

The city of Manila will also step forward to the finals with their proposed idea “Go Manila,” a suite of new policies, processes and digital platforms to build the first modern data infrastructure in the city’s 450-year history.

The two cities will advance to the four-month Champion Phase of the competition where the finalists will refine their ideas with technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its network of leading innovation experts.

A young mango plantation in Butuan City. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

“By helping these cities test their ideas over the coming months, we will have a chance to identify cutting-edge policies and programs that can allow cities to rebuild in ways that make them stronger and healthier, and more equal and more just,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Manila and Butuan were among the eight cities in Asia-Pacific which made it to the top 50 and the only two cities in Southeast Asia.

Other Asia-Pacific cities in the top 50 included Auckland (New Zealand), Daegu (South Korea), Pune (India), Rourkela (India), Taipei (Taiwan), and Wellington (New Zealand).

At the end of the championship phase, 15 of the 50 cities will receive $1 million each and robust multi-year technical assistance to implement and scale their ideas.

The winners are scheduled to be announced in early 2022. (Ivy Marie Mangadlao / MindaNews)