News | 15 June 2021
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Wellington finalist in Global Mayors Challenge

Wellington is among 50 champion cities selected to advance in global innovation competition uncovering most transformative urban solutions to emerge during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Screen shot of video showing digital twin version of central Wellington.

Wellington now enters a four-month test phase with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies to prepare the Wellington City Digital Twin Project for the final round of judging.

The Capital is one of 50 Champion Cities selected on Tuesday as finalists in the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge, a global innovation competition that identifies and accelerates the most ambitious ideas developed by cities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These 50 urban innovations rose to the top of a competitive pool of more than 630 applications from 99 countries, in the first-ever Global Mayors Challenge. 

As a Mayors Challenge finalist, Wellington now advances to the four-month Champion Phase of the competition. From June through October, the 50 finalist cities will refine their ideas with technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its network of leading innovation experts. Fifteen of the 50 cities will ultimately win the grand prize, with each receiving $1 million and robust multi-year technical assistance to implement and scale their ideas. Grand Prize Winners will be announced in early 2022.

These 50 finalists are showing the world that in the face of the pandemic’s enormous challenges, cities are rising to meet them with bold, innovative, and ambitious ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City.

“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.”

The Wellington City Digital Twin Project (DTP) uses a digital cities twin tool that utilizes advanced gaming technology to create large scale city visualizations comprising integrated and real time data. 


“This platform will lead to enhanced public, agency and stakeholder collaboration, and co-designing of Wellington, aspiring carbon-zero capital of New Zealand,” said Wellington Mayor Andy Foster. 

“This is a huge opportunity for the city to showcase the Wellington tech sector’s leadership and our appetite to attack the real problems of climate change head on. DTP is one of our great assets and this is a chance to make it a tool for climate action.” 

The 50 Champion Cities submitted ideas addressing four of the most significant challenges borne of the pandemic: Economic Recovery & Inclusive Growth; Health & Wellbeing; Climate & Environment; and Good Governance & Equality. A prestigious selection committee co-chaired by Bloomberg Philanthropies board member Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President, Ariel Investments, and David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee, assessed the applications to determine the Champion City finalists. 

“This is always an especially exciting phase of the Mayors Challenge, helping mayors push their innovations to even greater heights," said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

"While 15 cities will ultimately take-home grand prizes, all 50 cities receive world class coaching and support to improve their ideas and their potential to improve lives."  

Photo of Wellington Cable Car with text overlaid saying: 'Wellington, New Zealand, 2021 Global Mayors Challenge Champion City'.

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge builds on the success of four previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013 and 2018), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). For more information, visit and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million.