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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
News article21 November 2019Service for Foreign Policy Instruments3 min read

IUC event highlights the important role of City-to-City cooperation in sustainable urban development

Over 200 representatives of local and regional governments from across the world converged in Brussels for the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme’s third annual City-to-City event. After years of exchange, cities are coming together once more to take stock of the results of their pairings and of the crucial role inter-city cooperation plays in forging sustainable communities.

One component of the European Union-funded IUC programme pairs European cities with peers from other world regions. Cooperation has, for example, led the Mayor of Mérida (Mexico) to pledge funds to implement a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, which was the focus of the city’s exchange with West Athens (Greece); and prompted the opening of a direct freight train connection from Mannheim (Germany) to Chongqing (China).

Achieving solutions to global challenges like climate change and inequality requires cooperation among all parts of the world, and for leaders from all levels to be ambitious. The IUC programme demonstrates this. I am thrilled to see committed urban actors and leaders from Asia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe coming together today in Brussels to highlight the positive outcomes of cooperation,” said Lotte Knudsen, Managing Director of Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues, European External Action Service, in her keynote address.

Cooperation during last years has taught us that we have a lot of knowledge and experience to offer each other to turn global challenges into opportunities for innovation and urban transformation. It is here that words become action. This is thanks, first and foremost, to the multitude of sub-national actors engaging in the programme, whether regional governments, large cities, small municipalities or local leaders. This event is another opportunity to take forward the fruitful exchanges”, said Normunds Popens, Deputy Director General, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission, in his opening speech.

The IUC is one of the European Union’s key instruments in support of sustainable urban development, implemented through city diplomacy and mutual learning. It contributes to achieving major international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, New Urban Agenda, and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Partnership is at the heart of cities achieving global goals. Through working with peers from around the world, leading cities are learning from one another and pushing sustainable urban development forward. The IUC programme always champions and facilitates this exchange, but its impact is clearest when the cities come together for City-to-City events,” said Nona Deprez, Head of Unit Partnership Instrument, European Commission Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, moderating the IUC event opening session.

Since 2016, European cities have been collaborating with their global partners; there are over 80 pairings to date. Results achieved through inter-city cooperation will be highlighted by representatives from pairings including: Rome (Italy) and Liuzhou (China); Vila Nova de Famalicão (Portugal) and Fort Collins (U.S.A.); and Belfast (United Kingdom) and Santiago de Cali with Medellín (Colombia).

The event will also reflect on the impact of the Global Covenant of Mayors, one of the three core components of the IUC. Speakers representing the European, national, regional, and municipal levels will take to the podium to highlight inspiring examples from signatory cities, and to address a unique challenge that has been highlighted over the past years of cooperation: namely, how to access funding to accelerate local climate action. Perspectives from the European Investment Bank, Covenant of Mayors National Committee of Peru, State of Gujarat (India), and signatory cities Makassar (Indonesia) and Chicago (U.S.A.) will kick-start the conversation.

In addition to leaders of global cities, representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, Directorate-General for Energy, Committee of the Regions, and the European External Action Service will address attendees. Breakout sessions will allow cities to dive more deeply into areas that they are focusing on through their pairings, such as clean energy transition, participatory approaches to smart cities, and mobility and air quality.

This event not only takes stock of the progress already made through inter-city cooperation, but also brings multi-level stakeholders from different countries and contexts together to catalyse further action, and ensure that the future of inter-city cooperation is as productive and impactful as possible.

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Publication date
21 November 2019
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments