Starting a city-to-city cooperation

Cities in the Member States of the European Union who wish to exchange with a city facing similar challenges in another global region can benefit from the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) city-to-city cooperation programme on sustainable urban development. The programme aims to foster links between EU cities and those in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America. Through the programme, local leaders will be able to connect and gain new perspectives on pressing sustainable development issues.

Successful candidates will be paired with an international city that faces related challenges, allowing both parties to cooperate, build connections and share knowledge. Representatives from each city will take part in study tours, staff exchanges, trainings and seminars, etc. and will develop together a Local Action Plan to drive sustainable urban development in the selected area.

By joining the IUC city-to-city cooperation, your city will:

  • COMMIT – Cooperate for at least 18 months with your international peers, allocate resources and time to develop a successful cooperation which will last beyond the lifetime of this programme
  • LEARN – Get access to new ways of approaching challenges and benefit from a wider pool of good practices to draw upon; receive support in identifying innovative business models for financing local action
  • SHARE – Help others to solve issues by sharing your own experiences and relaying knowledge
  • EXCHANGE – Open your city to dialogue and partnership with new global peers, and relevant stakeholders (public and private)
  • SHOWCASE – Profile your best practices and achievements internationally
  • IMPLEMENT – Work with new partners to make your vision of sustainable urban development a reality through developing a Local Action Plan for sustainable urban development in a sector of your choice

Interested cities are encouraged to refer to our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), as well as scrolling down below to see current pairings from the 2017 calls and the conditions regarding applicant cities’ commitment and eligibility. For further information, you may also contact

The 2018 call for EU cities to apply has already closed (on March 19th). If you wish to receive regular updates on IUC and its global activities, please join the IUC mailing list by writing to



City-to-city pairings

Through the IUC programme, cities and regions across Europe have entered into partnerships on sustainable development with counterparts from around the globe. For a full list of pairings so far, see the table below:

EU CityCountryPaired CityCountry
MálagaSpainJingyue (in Changchun)China
PragueCzech RepublicLongyanChina
Agii Anargiri-KamateroGreeceZhengzhouChina
Donostia-San SebastiánSpainHirosakiJapan
Metropolitan City of BolognaItalyAustin, TexasUSA
HamburgGermanyMetropolitan Area of GuadalajaraMexico
West AthensGreeceMéridaMexico
Manchester City CouncilUnited Kingdom                  MontréalCanada
TorinoItalyConsórcio ABC (consortium of São Paulo municipalities)Brazil
PordenoneItalyBenedito NovoBrazil
Santo TirsoPortugalAraripinaBrazil
Viana do CasteloPortugalSão LeopoldoBrazil
AlmadaPortugalBelo HorizonteBrazil
MadridSpainBuenos AiresArgentina
Pavlos MelasGreeceSan JustoArgentina
AlbaceteSpainRío GrandeArgentina
BelfastUnited Kingdom Medellín + Santiago de CaliColombia
Graz + Styria regionAustriaIbaguéColombia



What are European cities committing to?

Chosen cities must commit to cooperating intensively with their partner city for at least 18 months, and to share on their progress. Cities also agree to develop a sustainable urban development Local Action Plan on the identified knowledge sharing priority. After this period, cities commit to reporting on their progress and on concrete actions to be carried out in the future. Each city will sign a Partnership Agreement to this effect.

The Local Action Plans will follow a common methodology, in line with the EU-funded URBACT programme experience and should be developed through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process. Each city will develop its own Local Action Plan. The Local Action Plans must include activities and economically viable pilot projects that are capable of being realised in the short term, thereby opening up market opportunities and encouraging the involvement of EU research, businesses, other levels of government and the local community.

Participating cities will become part of a large community of peers and stakeholders engaging on sustainable urban development.

In order to ensure a successful exchange and roll-out of measures and actions, cities need to commit an adequate amount of time and resources to implement the work. These resources should be sufficient to the ambition of the actions planned. 

Measures and actions to be implemented will contribute to achieving the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda for the European Union, the Sendai Framework and the Paris Agreement, enhancing quality of life in urban areas.



Who can apply?

Mobilizing a critical mass of stakeholders and key partners is a crucial component for the successful development of a Local Action Plan. These actors should be included in a multi-level and multi-stakeholder (e.g. academia, business, etc.) partnership, through the planning, roll-out and implementation of the Local Action Plan. Cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants are encouraged to apply.

Groups of municipalities will also be eligible to apply, but only if their total population still exceeds 100,000 inhabitants and a clear administrative contact of the lead urban authority has been identified and provided, as well as the commitment of the others concerned.

Sub-national governments, such as regions and provinces, are invited to support cities applying, but they will not be considered eligible applicants themselves. Regions wishing to engage in sustainable development are invited to apply for the inter-regional cooperation on innovation for local and regional development programme.


For more information, please refer to our FAQ or contact