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EU’s World Cities Project pairs SEOUL, SUWON, GWANGJU and BUSAN with 4 top European cities







Seoul 17 March 2017: Four Korean cities - Seoul, Suwon, Gwangju and Busan - are being paired with four European cities - Eindhoven (Netherlands), the Scottish Cities Alliance (UK), Tampere (Finland) and Barcelona (Spain) - under the new World Cities project. This European Union (EU) initiative – supported by the European Parliament - promotes long-term working relations between cities of the EU and cities in other countries, such as the Republic of Korea, with whom we share a strategic partnership.


The overall aim of the project is to promote better urban policy and thereby improve the quality of life in participating cities. The cooperation agenda with the Republic of Korea will require the identification of pilot regions and cities and the development of concrete actions for implementation. This covers, for example, urban innovation (the smart city) and green technologies (energy efficiency, low carbon development). Actions are designed to increase so-called 'triple-helix cooperation' between governments, research and business.  World Cities will also create opportunities for business and new jobs while pursuing the sustainable development of the cities involved.


The initiative was launched at the Launch Meeting held in Seoul on Tuesday 14 March in the presence of Mr Kim Chang-beom, Ambassador for International Relations, Seoul Metropolitan Government, 20 European city delegates and senior officials of the Korean Government and local authorities. The EU was represented by Dr Michael Reiterer, the EU Ambassador-designate to the Republic of Korea and Dr Ronald Hall, Principal Advisor, EU Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, Brussels, in addition to other senior officials and EU experts.


EU Ambassador Reiterer thanked the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Metropolitan Government of Seoul for their support and shared the desire to continue building a genuine partnership on sustainable urbanisation between Korea and the EU. “The European Union and Korea recognise that the development of cities is a key factor in the promotion of sustainable development in the world. The European Union is therefore committed to engaging with partners around the globe, to expand opportunities for city-to-city cooperation developing capacities and fostering exchanges of urban solutions and mutual learning to jointly address the challenges of sustainable development in our partner countries overall. The majority of our citizens live in cities, therefore we want to improve their life by improving the urban environment that impacts their life on daily basis.” he said.


This programme will also provide a unique opportunity to the four Korean cities to collaborate and learn from the experiences of Australia, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam, who are the other country partners for the EU for the World Cities project. 


Dr Ronald Hall, Principal Advisor, EU DG for Regional and Urban Policy, underlined, "In both, Korea and the EU, we realise that our policies for economic and social development will be successful only if they are successful in our cities. This is why it is important that we share our knowledge and experience on urban policy, and our examples of good practice in fields such as urban transport, energy efficiency, urban-rural relations and good urban governance. EU regional and urban policy invests over 50 billion euros annually in supporting European regions and cities and we, on our side, are keen to share the results of this experience. Our aim is to build a long-term cooperation platform between the EU and the Republic of Korea in an effort to address more effectively the major urbanisation challenges of the 21st century”. Additionally, Dr Hall spoke of the new EU Urban agenda in accordance with the UN Habitat III and its continuous effort to further promote the international outreach of EU’s urban agenda, especially with the Korean partners.


The conference:


The day-long conference served to further strengthen the ties between EU and the Republic of Korea, and helped develop the way forward for EU-Korea cooperation on sustainable urban development.


In the conference, 30-40 representatives from the EU and Korean cities focused on the way forward regarding Smart City (transportation, ICT, safety), Urban Economy (innovation, clusters, start-ups), Climate Change (low-carbon, green energy, resilience) and urban regeneration (cultural heritage, green spaces, affordable housing).


The conference was attended by representatives from the national and local governments, private sector, non-governmental organisations, universities and other stakeholders.


Visit to the South Korean cities involved


After the conference, delegates from the European cities made a three-day visit to Seoul, Gwangju, Suwon and Busan. Here they identified concrete cooperation projects with South Korean partners in the areas of smart cities (internet of things, traffic management), energy efficiency, public lighting, support to innovative start-ups dealing developing smart city related solutions, CO2 emissions reduction and university / research cooperation.


The visit finished today with a debriefing session in Seoul to define the next steps for cooperation.


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About the World Cities Project


The World Cities Project is the result of a political initiative in 2014 of the European Parliament and is implemented by the European Commission drawing on external expertise. During the first phase of the project (2015-2016), European cities cooperated with cities in Canada, Japan, China and India. World Cities current stage (2017-2018) promotes cooperation between cities from the European Union and cities from the Republic of Korea, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam. In Korea the project is implemented by CityNet and Ramboll. Thematic areas for cooperation under the project are selected based on the needs and priorities of Korean and EU cities expertise (e.g., smart city, urban revitalisation, water management, business development). EU and Korean sides will exchange information and discuss relevant urban development issues during the period March 15-17 in the hosting cities of Seoul (Songpa-Gu), Suwon, Gwangju and Busan. This will be followed by six months of decentralised cooperation on specific topics between the cities after which the EU will organise 5-day working meetings and site visits of the nominated Korean city delegates (4 delegates per city) with their EU counterparts in selected EU cities in October / November 2017. The concluding meeting will be held in Korea, with suggested prospects and take-aways for both Korea and EU in March 2018.




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