EU International Urban Cooperation programme to be expanded and reinforced with cities and regions worldwide


The European Commission has decided to expand and reinforce its programme on International Urban Cooperation (IUC) for sustainable urban development. At least 148 cities from EU and non-EU countries in America, Asia and Australasia will join cooperation actions that are currently under way between 155 cities around the world.

This decision was announced by European Commissioner Elisa Ferreira during the 10th World Urban Forum, which took place this week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and focused on implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the urban sphere.

“Cities and urban areas are microcosms of the challenges and opportunities we face today: they are hubs of innovation and culture and centres of prosperity and development. At the same time, cities concentrate the challenges of congestion, pollution, social exclusion and the challenge of providing infrastructure from rapidly changing population,” said the Commissioner – on behalf of the European Union and its 27 Member States – at the opening ceremony of the Forum. “That is why the UN’s new agenda is so important,” she added.

With this decision, the current IUC, which was launched in 2017, will expand its inter-regional cooperation on innovation, alongside its ongoing urban dimension based on city-to-city cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development.

The new version of the programme, which will be launched later this year under the denomination International Urban and Regional Cooperation (IURC), will include regions and cities in the EU, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. In addition to the non-EU countries involved under the first phase in Asia and the Americas, the new target areas of Korea, South-East Asia and Australasia will work with European counterparts on sustainable urban development, while Chinese and Japanese participants will focus on regional innovation.

Unlike in the city-to-city cooperation model in the current IUC phase, in the IURC, cities will primarily work in thematic clusters focusing on areas based on the UN New Urban Agenda and the Urban Agenda for the EU. Cities who wish to develop a more intensive cooperation with a European partner will also be able to pursue one-to-one city pairings. The nature of cooperation – in clusters and city-pairs – will be outlined in Urban Cooperation Action Plans, which will lay out actions that cities collaboratively identify to take on during the 18-24 months of their cooperation.

Since its inception four years ago, the IUC has engaged cities from across the world to foster sustainable urban development and regions from EU and Latin America to promote regional innovation cooperation.

Region-to-region cooperation will follow a similar model of using both thematic clustering and one-on-one pairing. Regional Cooperation Action Plans will act as road maps for cooperation. In this case, however, the focus of work will be on improving and internationalising regional innovation strategies.

Header image by the IUC Coordination Unit