CityNet Secretariat successfully organized the ICP-AGIR EU-Asia Final Conference in Incheon during 3-4 April 2023. The International City Partnerships: Acting for Green and Inclusive Recovery (ICP-AGIR) project is a programme funded by the European Union (EU) to promote city-to-city cooperation between EU and non-EU cities on the topics of energy transition, air quality, circular economy, and migrant and refugee integration. CityNet has been the implementing partner of the project in Asia for the ICP-AGIR since November 2021. Six pairings of cities that were selected in Asia were: Incheon-Berlin, Incheon-Almeria, Gwangju-Athens, Taoyuan-Braga, Taichung-Prato, and Singapore-Milan.
As the closing event of the project, 55 participants from cities overseas and domestically in Korea attended this event to present the outcome of the project and the future cooperation plan that they have with their paired cities. Incheon Metropolitan City, which is paired with both Almeria and Berlin in the ICP-AGIR project, is the hosting city for the ICP-AGIR final conference.
Mr. Jehak Jang, the Ambassador of International Relations at Incheon Metropolitan City delivered welcome remarks as the hosting city. Mr. Jang expressed sincere welcome for all participants to Incheon, he also emphasized the importance of C2C cooperation to maintain urban stability especially during the pandemic period. He expressed his hopes to continue the cooperation with Berlin and Almeria.
Mr. Jang’s speech was followed by the opening remarks from Ms. Maria Castillo Fernandez, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Korea. Ambassador Castillo Fernandez stated that she considers the ICP-AGIR final conference as a successful project by bringing close cooperations to the pair of EU and Non-EU cities. In addition, Ambassador Castillo Fernandez emphasized local actions and bottom-up approaches in tackling Climate Change challenges are equally important as the top-down approaches. In light of this perspective, the European Union has initiated many city-level projects such as 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart cities by 2030, and city-level partnership projects such as International Urban and Regional Cooperation (IURC) and ICP-AGIR.
Mr. Jozef Stahl from the European Commission’s Directorate General of Regional and Urban Policy (DG-REGIO) also delivered keynote remarks as the funder of the project. EU DG-REGIO is keen to support cities and how international programs can fit into the EU framework. He wishes good practices from this project can be upscaled and the cooperation will continue beyond the scopes of the project.
The award ceremony for excellent city pairings who have identified pilot actions and are receiving a small amount of support from the project for the execution of their actions was followed by the presentations from all city pairings in the project. Each pairing of cities introduced their city’s good practices and the challenges that they are facing, as well as the upcoming cooperation actions that they will conduct to tackle the challenges. According to each city’s priority focus, experts from each city were also invited to be panel sessions based on topics of Circular Economy, Energy Transition, Air Quality and Sustainable Mobility.
As the hosting city of the ICP-AGIR EU-Asia Final Conference, Incheon organized a cultural visit to Incheon Dohobu Office and Incheon Intangible Cultural Asset Education Center for all the participants. The participants got hands-on experience painting their own bags. A study visit to Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) was also organized on the morning of the second day.
The final conference marks the closing of the ICP-AGIR EU-Asia Project, but it is not the closing of the partnerships and friendships that the pairing cities gained from the project. As the implementing partner of the project, CityNet appreciates all cities that have been working with us through the year and a half. We look forward to knowing more about the upcoming cooperation between all pairing cities in the project.
Hui Qian is a Program Officer at CityNet, where she manages outreach and CityNet Services. Prior joining CityNet, she had worked at ICLEI East Asia Secretariat, with a focus on city-scale research and projects. Hui has a background of Sustainability Science and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Compilation. She obtained a Master of Science in International Cooperation Policy from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Japan) and a Master of Engineering in International Material Flow Management from Hochschule Trier (Germany). She is experienced in working under multicultural environment with multidisciplinary cooperation.