On Wednesday 15th March 2017, H.E. Hans-Dietmar Schweisgut, Ambassador of the European Union to China addressed an event launching city-to-city cooperation under the new EU project “International Urban Cooperation: Sustainable and Innovative Cities and Regions – Regional Action Asia (IUC Asia) in Beijing. The IUC Asia project is funded by the EU’s Partnership Instrument and pursues two objectives: to strengthen EU-China city-to-city cooperation on sustainable urban development, and to strengthen EU-Asia cooperation on local and regional Climate Change action, building upon the experience of the Covenant of Mayors in the EU. The first objective will be pursued in China in cooperation with the Department of Regional Economy of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
H.E. Schweisgut said that "city-to-city cooperation is an efficient way to ensure that the EU and China work hand-in-hand to achieve the objectives we have set ourselves through the Paris Agreement. But it also pursues another objective, one that is humbler than global initiatives but tremendously important. City-to-city cooperation is about improving the daily life of people in our cities: providing the right transport solutions, improving air quality, greening our urban environments and fighting the congestion of our cities."
Additionally, Mr. Ronald Hall, principal adviser of the European Commission’s DG REGIO, presented the new EU Urban agenda in accordance with the UN Habitat III, and the EU's efforts to further develop its international outreach, especially with Chinese partners.
Mr. Liu Sushe, Director General of Department of Regional Economy of NDRC emphasized the importance of further deepening the concrete cooperation projects between Chinese and European cities. Mr. Liu reviewed the previous activities and successful results under the previous China-EU regional cooperation projects and wished to see more concrete projects involving business sector, universities and research centers, as well as local authorities from both sides. He also hoped that the newly launched IUC Asia project would contribute to the existing China-EU Regional Policy Dialogue. Based on the previous success of the World Cities Project between NDRC and DG REGIO, he said, “both Regional Economic Department of NDRC and DG REGIO will cement our existing working relationship built on trust, efficiency and friendship”.
Five Chinese pilot cities recommended by NDRC will participate in this year’s city-to-city cooperation with European counterparts. During the launch event, representatives from Chongqing, Zhengzhou (Henan province), Changchun Jingyue Econimic Zone (Jilin province), Shantou (Guangdong province) and Longyan (Fujian province) presented their city profile and their cooperation ideas for the upcoming activities.
The launch event was also attended by other four Chinese cities involved in past cooperation: Tianjin, Wuhan (Hubei province), Chengdu (Sichuan province) and Guangzhou Development District (Guangdong province). Finally, two representatives of two European pilot cities presented their experiences and ongoing projects with Chinese cities. Mark Schneider from West Midlands of UK introduced ongoing cooperation with Tianjin on innovation, education and health care. Daniel Bootello from Andalucia Smart City Cluster presented proposals to help "Spanish companies to build a bridge into the Chinese market and work with Shantou to establish a China-EU Smart-city Pilot District within its Zhugang New City”.