Facilitating city cooperation on sustainable, integrated urban development

The European Commission’s City Partnerships project on sustainable and integrated urban development between cities in the Europe and cities in Canada, South Africa and Asia has kicked off their study visits.

During the month of June, city delegates from South Africa and South Korea will visit counterpart cities in Europe to meet face to face and learn best practices on sustainability, energy transition, circular economy and air quality. At the same time, experts from Europe will visit Canadian cities to continue the discussions started online on how to best integrate migrants and welcome refugees.

An expert will accompany the delegations and guide the cities to achieve concrete cooperation projects and exchange of best practices. This is part of an 18-month long project implemented on behalf of the EU Directorate General for regional and urban policy (DG REGIO).

As an example, the city of eThekwini (Durban) in South Africa is visiting Porto (Portugal) to learn about waste management and waste to energy solutions in the Porto area. Another delegation from Cape Town will visit the city of Hamburg (Germany) and learn management practices on waste, energy and wastewater.

Two delegations from Incheon and Gwangju (South Korea) are visiting Berlin and Athens respectively. The themes of cooperation in Berlin range from smart city, urban sustainability (circular economy & smart building solutions) and cooperation on biotechnology within start-ups and innovation to energy and mobility. In Athens, colleagues from Gwangju will learn about air quality monitoring infrastructure, including sensor network and air quality monitoring with drones, to green remodelling projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and disaster risk management & adaptation to climate change. At the same time, a delegation from Singapore is visiting Milan to learn experiences on food waste minimization, water reclamation and waste-to-energy solutions as well as energy transition on green buildings and solutions on decarbonizing the energy grid.

Delegations from Frankfurt, Utrecht (The Netherlands) and Fuenlabrada (Spain) will visit Toronto, St. John’s and Halifax in Canada to discuss cooperation and exchange best practices on migration and integration of refugees. Given the flux of refugees coming and returning to Ukraine due to the conflict, cities are eager to learn form each other on how to provide better assistance to refugees and the project has already organized a webinar on this topic (Link to the youtube channel with video recording).

The visits are part of the International City Cooperation – Acting for Green and Inclusive Recovery project that includes 28 cities. More study visits will continue until November, with online meetings taking place to consolidate the learnings and prepare the implementation of pilot projects.