In stark contrast to the grey skies and scattered showers that had been (correctly) forecast for Brussels on 13 October, representatives from the ICLEI facilitated EU-Japan Urban Policy Dialogue and EU-Canada Urban Policy Cooperation enjoyed a moment in the sun: at the invitation of the Directorate General of Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission (DG REGIO), Mr. Torben Heinemann (Leipzig, Germany), Vice-Mayor Jun Nakamura (Toyama, Japan), and Mr. Mark Boysen (Saanich, Canada) shared their experiences as municipal actors within an international cooperation on urban and regional development.
The EU-Japan Urban Policy Dialogue and EU-Canada Urban Policy Cooperation are part of the larger World Cities Project, a proprietary action enacted by the European Union and managed by DG REGIO. Within the Dialogue and Cooperation, the ICLEI World Secretariat has collaborated with its Regional Offices in Canada and Japan to form eight city pairings, with each pairing composed of one EU and one non-EU member.
The presentations from the three municipal representatives provided valuable insight into the World Cities Project. First and foremost, in the words of DG REGIO Director General Dr. Walter Deffaa, the Project is “very much on track”. The identified city pairings are all well established and collaborating effectively, with a range of ‘action items’ already being discussed. It also became clear, however, that the EU-Japan Urban Policy Dialogue and EU-Canada Urban Policy Cooperation are cut from a slightly different cloth than many of the other initiatives on display at Open Days. With many other sessions focused on accessing funding for program implementation, the World Cities Project is about accumulating knowledge about what is happening in cities and regions, and then finding proactive methods for structuring this knowledge and making it accessible. In this regard, ICLEI and its partners are working hard to make sure that the experiences of its city pairings are systematically documented and disseminated through an interactive online platform, collaborative forum, and intuitive outcome reports. Through these efforts, the exchanges between eight city pairings can be scaled-up for global reach.
The 2nd Working Meeting of the EU-Canada Cooperation is set to begin on Monday, 19 October in Victoria-Gasteiz, Spain, with the 2nd Working Meeting of the EU-Japan Dialogue scheduled for November in Leipzig, Germany.