16 May 2017
Australian cities pair with EU cities for World Cities

Four Australian cities – Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Melbourne – met for the first time with their four EU cities counterparts on 8 May 2017, kicking off the Australian leg of the World Cities project, an important EU supported city-to-city cooperation on sustainable urban development.

Delegates from the European participant cities of Hamburg, Prague, Katowice and Manchester and the Australian cities of Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Melbourne kicked off discussions at the World Cities Project launch, to promote long term working relations and the exchange of experience and best practice between the EU and Australia paired cities.

The UN Global Compact – Cities Programme was very pleased to contribute to the World Cities exchange, providing cities with the opportunity to undertake our City Scan diagnostic in preparation for the program. This process was led by Sandra Moye who developed a customised version of the City Scan for World Cities and developed the related reports for the eight cities. This was undertaken from her current base in the Netherlands.

World Cities is a project of the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) of the European Commission supported by the European Parliament between cities of the EU and cities in other countries, like Australia, for cooperation on sustainable urban development. The Australian leg of World Cities is being coordinated by the EU Centre at RMIT, lead by Professor Bruce Wilson.

The Melbourne launch was opened by Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and had high-level representation from the EU: H.E. Sem Fabrizi, the EU Ambassador to Australia, Dr Ronald Hall, Principal Advisor, EU Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy; high-level representatives of the diplomatic missions from Germany and the United Kingdom to Australia; and other senior officials and EU experts, including Caroline Lambert who is currently leading the EU Climate Mission in Australia (EEAS) (pictured below).

The EU – Australia stream of the project aims to “support decentralised cooperation between EU and Australian cities in an effort to address more effectively the major urbanisation challenges of the 21st century”, explained Dr Ronald Hall, Principal Advisor, EU DG for Regional and Urban Policy on his address at the project launch.

Dr Hall underlined the critical importance of this cooperation:

In both, Australia and the EU, we realise that our policies for economic and social development will be successful only if they are successful in our cities. This is why it is important that we share our knowledge and experience on urban policy, and our examples of good practice in fields such as urban transport, energy efficiency, urban-rural relations and good urban governance”. 

“EU regional and urban policy invests over 50 billion euros annually in supporting European regions and cities and we, on our side, are keen to share the results of this experience. Our aim is to support decentralised cooperation between EU and Australian cities in an effort to address more effectively the major urbanisation challenges of the 21st century”.

The one day launch marked the start of a one-week long series of working meetings taking place in the matching/hosting cities strategy. These will identify relevant areas and projects for cooperation and the development of partnership action plans for implementation as part of the World Cities project.

UN Global Compact – Cities Programme Deputy Director, Elizabeth Ryan was part of the opening day of the World Cities meeting and presented on the broader context of the City Scan diagnostic, its uptake by the other cities and its role within the new partnered global initiatives.

Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Director, RMIT’s Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform also presented, asking the question – ‘How do we respond to complex urban problems?’. This set the stage for the conference afternoon discussions on urban topics.

In a world café style, through interactive sessions, small groups linked by their involvement in sustainable urban development, presented and shared their knowledge on Smart Cities, Urban Economy, Climate Change and Urban Regeneration. This kicked off the twin cities week long discussions in Australia.

The next round of meetings will take place after a period of decentralised cooperation among the cities, with Australian representatives from the cities travelling to their pairing cities in the European Union.

The World Cities program current stage (2017-2018) promotes cooperation between cities from the European Union and cities from the Republic of Korea, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam. During the first phase of the project (2015-2016), European cities cooperated with cities in Canada, Japan, China and India.

Connected Cities