Four Korean cities – Seoul, Suwon, Busan, and Gwangju – are paired with four European cities – Eindhoven (Netherlands), the Scottish Cities Alliance (UK), Tampere (Finland) and Barcelona (Spain) – to promote better urban policy and improve the quality of life in participating cities. This is part of the World Cities Project supported by the European Parliament to promote long-term cooperations between the select cities.
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. 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. The project in the Republic of Korea is implemented by CityNet and Ramboll.
The cooperation agenda with the Republic of Korea will identify pilot regions and cities and the development of concrete actions for implementation. The focus area covers urban innovation (the smart city) and green technologies (energy efficiency, low carbon development), among others.
The project initiative was launched at a meeting held in Seoul on 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 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.
The project launch meeting aimed at further strengthening the ties between EU and the Republic of Korea as well as helping to develop the EU-Korea cooperation on sustainable urban development. Approximately 30-40 representatives from the EU and Korean cities attended the meeting to discuss particularly 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 meeting was then followed by three-day working meetings and site visits in the Korea’s hosting cities, during which participating cities from both sides exchanged information and discuss relevant urban development issues. This will be followed by six months of decentralised cooperation on specific topics between these cities.