ROURKELA, INDIA wins Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayors Challenge

Rourkela: Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the 15 winning cities of the 2021-2022 Global Mayors Challenge, a worldwide innovation competition that supports and spreads cities’ most promising ideas. These 15 winners are being recognized for designing the boldest and most ambitious urban innovations to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic. The winning ideas address one or more of four current issue areas in cities including economic recovery and inclusive growth; health and wellbeing; climate and environment; and gender and equality.


ROURKELA, INDIA’s initiative of supporting solar-powered cold storage, plus women entrepreneurship to reduce waste and distress selling of commodities is awarded one million dollars, in addition to technical support and coaching over three years. The goal of the initiative is to set up a digitized cluster-based solar cold storage and use electric vehicles to distribute commodities to various categories of consumers. The cold storage will be used by the vendors for the safe storage of their items. The vendors would have the options of either retrieving these items as per their requirement, or marketing them via the cold room operators. The entire system will be operated and managed by the women federation providing them with a new and meaningful livelihood opportunity. Citizens of Rourkela will have the convenience of ordering vegetables sitting in the comfort of their homes.


Dr. Shubankar Mohapatra, Commissioner of Rourkela Municipal Corporation, is delighted to share the news, “The members of Rourkela Municipal Commission, Koel Fresh Pvt Ltd., research students and alumnus of NIT Rourkela have shown commendable performance in the last 6 months. Through their efforts, our city has clinched the top 15 positions in the world. We are extremely delighted and feel honored to receive the prestigious Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Global Mayors Challenge 2021 award. Climate change solutions, women empowerment, social inclusion has been the core theme of this project and are the driving force towards strengthening the local economy during Covid and post-Covid scenario.


The city has already been working in some of the areas like women empowerment through Self-Help Group engagement, Solarization Rourkela and others. Such an award is going to escalate the sustainable development works on the ground. In the coming days, our team along with our external partners, Koel Fresh Pvt Ltd., a startup based out of NIT Rourkela, would work extensively in enhancing the livelihood of small vendors and members of women self-help groups. The project is also emphasized to help residents of Rourkela in getting their essential commodities like fruits, vegetables, dairy products to their doorstep in a more effective manner. We are very much hopeful that such a solution would be scaled up in various parts of India and Rourkela city would act as a role model for many other cities. We, thank the entire team from Bloomberg philanthropies for giving us such a wonderful platform to showcase our city’s potential.”


The initiative will have a long-lasting impact on the well-being of the city residents. Small and marginal vendors (especially women vendors) residing in Rourkela would see a reduction in distressed selling of their commodities. This would unlock their potential to sell more, expand their customer base and subsequently produce better commodities. This would directly impact their financial and emotional well-being. Women federation members residing in Rourkela would get access to new and meaningful livelihood opportunities. They would also get to positively impact the lives of small and marginal vendors. Senior citizens and physically challenged citizens of Rourkela would now have the option to order and receive commodities (fruits and vegetables) at their doorstep independently. Mainstream citizens would also have the choice and comfort of commodity shopping from home. The use of emerging and clean technologies will have a positive impact on the environment of Rourkela.


“As the world works to address the profound public health and economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, cities can implement innovative ideas at a pace that national governments simply can’t match,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and 108th Mayor of New York City. “Our fifteen winners offer bold, achievable plans to improve health, reduce unemployment, empower women, and more. Collectively, they have the potential to improve millions of their residents’ lives – and the most successful solutions will inspire cities around the world to embrace them.”


Global Mayors Challenge

The 15 winning cities named today hail from 13 nations in six continents and collectively represent more than 30 million residents. They were selected from among 50 Champion Cities that spent the past four months rigorously testing and refining their projects. When the competition launched in January 2021, mayors from 631 cities in 99 countries submitted their boldest ideas to the competition.


The Mayors Challenge selection committee helped Bloomberg Philanthropies select the 15 winners.  The committee is co-chaired by Bloomberg Philanthropies board member Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO & President, Ariel Investments, and David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee, and includes a wide range of global experts: Sir David Adjaye, OBE Founder, Adjaye Associates; Dr. Yogan Pillay, Country Director for South Africa and Senior Global Director for Universal Health Coverage, Clinton Health Access Initiative; Jagan Shah, Senior Infrastructure Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, British High Commission, New Delhi; Linda Gibbs, Principal, Bloomberg Associates; Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia; Olafur Eliasson, Artist; Gael Garcia Bernal, actor and producer; Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics and Director, Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women; Federica Mogherini, Rector, College of Europe and Former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Director, Bloomberg American Health Initiative, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Former Executive Director, Code for America; and Mariana Costa Checa, Co-Founder And CEO, Laboratoria.


Moving Forward

The 15 winning cities will now enter a three-year implementation period with a $1 million grant and robust technical assistance. During this time, the cities will work diligently to evolve and scale their idea into a real-life program to improve residents’ lives. Cities will also work to share their ideas with additional cities around the world to enable these tested innovations to spread.


“The Mayors Challenge always pushes mayors to take big ideas and bring them to life and was vitally important as we emerged from the worst year of the pandemic” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Now these cities will pivot to the hard work ahead to implement these projects and collect lessons learned to help other cities adopt and spread their ideas.”


Click here for more details on the 15 winning Global Mayors Challenge ideas.

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge builds on the success of four previous Bloomberg Philanthropies Challenges in the U.S. (2013 and 2018), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). Previous Mayors Challenge winners include Los Angeles, California’s tackling of the city’s homelessness crisis by making it easier and cheaper to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs); Stockholm, Sweden’s project to convert plant waste into bio-char to encourage plant growth; and Barcelona, Spain helping senior citizens build community through technology. For more information, visit and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

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