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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments

International Urban Cooperation builds partnerships with cities in Asia

Bilateral cooperation between cities plays a major role in tackling some of today's most pressing challenges, including rapid urbanisation and the consequences of climate change. The International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme supports city-to-city, sub-national and inter-regional cooperation to spur sustainable development and build partnerships across the globe. By setting up local, regional and global networks in Asia's economic powerhouses, the IUC is building cooperation with cities from two of the EU's most important partners.

City-to-city cooperation opening doors in EU-China cooperation


In April 2018, the IUC Asia section held a workshop to welcome Chinese cities taking part in city-to-city pairing. Amongst others, participants from Chinese cities discussed topics, such as ecological protection, green technologies and vocational training as well as culture and tourism. City-to-city cooperation in diverse topics, such as socio-economic and sustainable development, people-to-people exchanges and trade and investment has proven to be a useful tool for Mayors to exchange knowledge and learn about best practices in these areas.

Representatives from Chinese cities consider direct exchanges with European Mayors through the IUC platform an important access point to expertise in sustainable urban development. European cities for their part value the direct cooperation with their Chinese counterparts. "The IUC programme has great strategic importance, as the European Union usually does not have many chances to work with cities, especially with Chinese cities", confirms Natividad Lorenzo from the EU Delegation to China.

Cooperation between European and Chinese cities will also be discussed during the 20th EU-China Summit to be held on 16 July 2018.

Setting up the Covenant of Mayors Japan: A Local Network for Global Climate Action


In March 2018, two preparatory meetings were held in Tokyo, Japan where early signatories of the Japanese section of the Covenant of Mayors came together to discuss the governance of the new network. Participants were also joined by the Japanese Ministry of Environment and discussed sustainable energy and climate action plans.

The Covenant of Mayors Japans aims to boost inter-city knowledge sharing on meeting climate commitments. In line with the principles underpinning EU Covenant of Mayors, the Covenant of Mayors Japan is bringing together Japanese cities to promote local actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change and ensure clean and affordable energy. The Global Covenant of Mayors is the world’s largest movement for local climate and energy action. It brings together regional and national covenant of mayors’ initiatives, which form part of a global initiative to tackle climate change challenge.


The International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme is a multi-stakeholder initiative linking EU businesses and city decision-makers and forging stronger ties between cities and regions across the EU and third countries on similar challenges. The programme revolves around three main strands of action: city-to-city cooperation on urban development, sub-national action under the Global Covenant of Mayors initiative and the inter-regional cooperation on innovation for local and regional development. The programme is funded through the EU's Partnership Instrument with more than €21 million.

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