Mayors are today's real agents of political change. Behold eight of the world's most innovative and effective civic leaders.
1 Helen Zille Cape Town, South Africahelenzille.co.zaA former political journalist, Zille is revered for her transparency as well as her commitment to Cape Town's neediest, writing off their debts with a budget surplus.2 Bertrand Delanoë Paris, Francebertranddelanoe.netParisians have fallen for Delanoë's Paris Plage, a summer beach along the banks of the Seine, and his Vélib' bike-sharing program with a fleet that's 20,000 strong.3 John So Melbourne, Australiajohnso.com.auMayor So helped get Melbourne named one of the Economist's "world's most livable cities"-for the third time. He's so popular that locals wear "John So-he's our bro" T-shirts.4 Carlos Alberto Richa Curitiba, Brazilcuritiba.pr.gov.brRicha is dedicated to public health, social equality, and urban ecology in a city that already boasts the planet's best (and cheapest) bus system.5 Elmar Ledergerber Zurich, Switzerlandcitymayors.comLedergerber has integrated sustainability into this financial-services-dominated city, cutting Zurich's carbon footprint while benefiting business and improving quality of life. 6 Jejomar C. Binay Makati, Philippinesjejomarbinay.com.phEven while expanding the Philippines' financial hub, Binay is also committed to Makati's public schools, outfitting them with modern buildings, free books, and meals for students.7 Ritt Bjerregaard Copenhagen, Denmarkritt.dkBjerregaard pioneered "Copenhagenism," a trifecta of sustainability, a booming economy, and family life.8 Oh Se-hoon Seoul, South Koreaseoul.go.krOh wants to turn his city into the world's first truly environmentally megacity. He also tirelessly vouches for-and drinks only-local tap water, urging residents to do the same.