What is Urban Diplomacy?

Urban diplomacy (also city diplomacy) adds animportant opportunity for dialogue and exchange to relations between states and governments. It can be particularly valuable when diplomatic relations at the bilateral level are strained or uncertain times are ahead.

Cities have become shaping actors in international cooperation. They are directly affected by events such as climate change, environmental disasters or social tensions and are often directly confronted with complex social, ecological and economic challenges. But cities are also the ones that find the best solutionsto many such problems. 

Urban Diplomacy recognizes the multifaceted potential of cities to conduct international policy at the municipal level and to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally in international networks across state borders. In this way, cities can make a major contribution to the cooperation of the international community.


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City diplomacy enables:

  • Communication and dialogue
  • Knowledge and information exchange
  • Cooperation on sustainable development and security
  • Stabilization of economic relations
  • Fostering of cultural relations
  • International understanding and peacekeeping

This is done, for example, through the negotiation and signing of agreements and
declarations, exchanges on specialist topics such as innovation, technology and competencies, and project collaborations.

Why cities?

More than half of the world's population currently lives in cities. It is predicted that this proportion will rise to 70 percent by 2050.

With increasing urbanization and since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda 2016 (UN New Urban Agenda) cities are playing more and more important role on the international stage. Because they are directly affected by global economic, social and environmental issues such as climate change, the health crisis, and migration and integration, they have a great responsibility in addressing these challenges.

Especially in areas where international relations are complex and understanding is difficult, municipalities can find constructive, pragmatic and sustainable solutions based on similar perspectives and tasks because of their proximity to citizens.


Urban Diplomacy Exchange at a glance

The Urban Diplomacy Exchange (UDE) project highlights the municipal potential in questions of international understanding, peacekeeping and joint work on global goals.

The focus in the current pilot phase of the project is on connections between German cities and cities in the USA and the UK. The project supports actors at the municipal level in aligning their city-twinning relationships professionally, especially in terms of sustainable development, in addition to existing representative and cultural connections. The cooperation between the cities is based on the international agreements such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. Within this framework, the focus of the exchange of expertise and political dialogue is determined by the needs of the municipal experts.

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