Cooperation of EU and Japanese cities under the influence of COVID-19


The Exchange Meeting of the IUC-Japan Cities planned to take place at the end of May was postponed due to the impacts of COVID-19. The Meeting was supposed to be the 6th one following the five meetings held in Brussels and Tokyo alternatively, twice a year pace since autumn 2017. The new date of the meeting is not decided, but most probably it will be organized in November 2020 in a way to avoid influence of coronavirus.

Back-to-back with the meeting, three EU cities, Bratislava, Grenoble-Alpes Metropole (GAM), and Umea planned to send delegates to their Japanese partner cities, Tokorozawa, Toyota and Kamakura, respectively, to finalize their UCAPs and have meetings with Japanese local stakeholders to disseminate their planned activities. Even though the events were postponed, they had intensive online meetings to discuss action plans. Bratislava and Tokorozawa work on the development of urban-based green infrastructures for not simply to improve urban amenities but also to mitigate the impacts of climate change such as flood, heat waves and heat islands. GAM and Toyota are talking about the deployment of new, clean energy sources such as hydrogen, citizens’ awareness raising to achieve SDGs, and networking of regional initiatives of innovation and incubation facilities. Umea and Kamakura plan to cooperate for mutual learning about stakeholder participation and social inclusion for promoting circular economy and sustainable food consumption. As a tangible goal of cooperation, each of the pairing is trying to identify a pilot project which is deliverable and viable with adequate methodologies and financial sources. Cities are also examining new approaches to incorporate ideas and methods for coping with COVID-19 into ongoing projects. For example, urban planning to increase green space and encourage the use of bicycles will bring multiple benefits for social distancing.

Visit of two EU cities, Marseille and Turku to Japan was also postponed. They respectively will visit to Kobe and Nagano & Obuse for discussion and site visits for port and maritime industry development and circular economy including the use of biomass. They will finalize their UCAPs after finalizing their visits by the end of 2020.