The project




Project objective: Urban strengthening through professional cooperation

Strengthening city diplomacy as a form of foreign relations - just like strengthening municipalities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and their contribution to climate protection - is in the interest of the German government. The coalition agreement "Mehr Fortschritt wagen 2021-2025“ ("Dare to make more progress") gives the new federal government the mandate to do so:

"We are strengthening the relations between the cities and expanding urban diplomacy." This means that the federal level is obliged to integrate the cities into foreign policy work.

Since 2022, the Urban Diplomacy Exchange project has been addressing German cities and their partner cities in the United States of America and the United Kingdom on the issues of sustainable development. 

Commissioned by the German Federal Foreign Office carried out and promoted and by the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) from Commitment Global in cooperation with the Association of German Cities (Deutscher Städtetag) .

In addition to those topics of the 2030 Agenda that the cities select together in their partnership, the sustainability goals (SDGs) 11, 16 and 17 in the context of urban diplomacy are particularly important:

The professional and municipal political exchange between the cities strengthens municipal partnerships and supports the international networking of cities in their commitment to sustainable development and peace.

  • The technical thematic exchange helps to maintain and diversify the partnerships at the level of local governance and to define concrete new approaches for cooperation.
  • The political exchange on local level strengthens the direct dialogue between the city leaders and helps to strengthen partnerships at the political level.

The cities participating in the project bring in the experts as well as extensive know-how in municipal services of general interest, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and climate protection.

Project goals


Strengthening of mutual understanding for current political and social challenges and solutions in the participating cities in Germany and the respective partner countries.

Shape and design

Raising awareness among municipal actors of their role in city diplomacy and strengthening their design potential in the implementation and achievement of the global goals (2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement).


Strengthening the competences of the cities for strategic partnerships as well as supporting the cities in their internationalization.

The project builds on partnerships between German cities and their twin towns. These city partnerships have existed in part for decades and have so far been characterized in particular by cultural and representative exchange. By participating in the Urban Diplomacy Exchange project, these municipal relations will be professionally oriented toward sustainable development (2030 Agenda). The city partnership jointly decides on the main topics of cooperation. A valuable exchange of knowledge and cooperation often takes place on the topics of sustainable transport infrastructure, climate-friendly and CO2-neutral urban planning, zero waste, sponge city and social city. 

The 2030 Agenda

17 Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly with its 193 member states adopted the 2030 Agenda. With its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 sub-goals and its five underlying principles (people, planet, peace, partnership, prosperity), the Agenda addresses the entire global community to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 by a wide range of actors from business, politics and civil society.

These 17 goals, also known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are now being used in a wide range of political and corporate processes as an instrument for a more sustainable orientation. In contrast to the previous agenda of the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs are aimed at the entire world (principle of universality) and call on the Global North in particular to assume its global responsibility to take action to achieve the goals.

Together, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve sustainable development worldwide and are based on the idea of the triangle of sustainability (social, ecological, economic). Central aspects of the 2030 Agenda are the creation of equal opportunities, the reduction of disparities in living standards, and the sustainable management of natural resources to ensure the preservation of ecosystems and strengthen their resilience. 

Since its adoption in the last decade, the original idea of the 2030 Agenda of a mere target scheme has been increasingly used in many municipalities as an instrument for the holistic design of sustainable urban planning. Through this so-called "localization" of the 2030 Agenda″, it creates awareness and opportunities to assume global responsibility at the local level.

National level

National governments

Municipal level

Cities, towns, districts

International level

City networks and international institutions

Sub-national level

Regional and state governments

It requires a multi-level governance approach and inter-institutional cooperation in order to achieve the sustainable development goals at the local level. Therefore, Urban Diplomacy Exchange not only creates networking among participating cities, but also supports exchange with other actors at national and international levels. 

Municipal partnership work has so far been a voluntary, often additional task for municipalities for which only limited financial and human capacities are available. For a high-quality municipal exchange of expertise, it is essential that, in addition to the people responsible for town twinning, actors from various specialist departments also take part. Increasingly, cities in Germany and, gradually, in the USA also have offices for international relations, through which city partnerships are coordinated. As part of the Urban Diplomacy Exchange, other specialist offices are to be involved in addition to the International Office, so that a holistic exchange between different specialist offices and administrations is made possible. This can result in a fruitful exchange of knowledge between environmental agencies, climate protection managers or social affairs agencies. In the medium to long term, this interweaving of specialist departments and the dissolution of silo thinking in the city administrations can result in urban planning activities benefiting all residents and thus the Leave-no-one-behind approach of the 2030 Agenda stronger in political and administrative action is taken into account.


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Who is carrying out the project?

Commissioned by the German Federal Foreign Office the project is carried out by the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) of Engagement Global and implemented in cooperation with the Association of German Cities (Deutscher Städtetag) .

Engagement Global gGmbH

Engagement Global supports development engagement. Engagement Global gGmbH combines various funding programs and numerous projects, initiatives and offers for fair and sustainable global cooperation under one roof. Engagement Global works in particular with civil society, municipalities and schools. Engagement Global works on behalf of the German government and is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For more information:  

Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW)

Municipalities have a key role to play when it comes to overcoming global challenges such as urbanization, migration and climate change – in Germany and worldwide. The Service Agency for Communities in One World (SKEW) therefore accompanies and advises communities in getting involved in development policy, for example by promoting fair trade and fair procurement processes, involving migrant organizations in their work, implementing local sustainability strategies or international partnerships with communities care for.

The SKEW is a department of Engagement Global. Since 2001 it has been available to municipalities as a competence center for municipal development policy in Germany. It designs its strategies and programs together with its broad participation structure with a program advisory board – in which the Federal Foreign Office is also represented – and the program commission.

The service center has many years of experience in methodology and process support for the establishment and strengthening of municipal partnerships and the design of international professional exchange. The focus is on the future topics of municipal partnerships, social participation, globally sustainable communities and fair public procurement.

With the aim of strengthening municipal partnerships, it offers municipalities analogue and virtual opportunities to exchange experiences and jointly develop local solutions to global issues. The SKEW supports and advises German municipalities in the implementation of global agendas both in Germany and internationally within the framework of town twinning.

An important part of the SKEW is the organization and methodological support of municipal partnerships and international professional exchange between German municipalities and municipalities worldwide.

A particular focus is on local answers to global challenges and the implementation of global climate and sustainability agendas.

Further information about the structure and the work of the service center can be found on the website.