Urban development brings together mayors from China and Germany

Members of the Sino-German Mayors' Programme in Magdeburg; Photo: Dirk Mahler.

Members of the Sino-German Mayors' Programme in Magdeburg; Photo: Dirk Mahler.

In September, around 30 mayors from China visited Berlin, Magdeburg, Hamburg, Cologne and the Ruhr area, where they discussed the topic of sustainable and integrated urban development with German counterparts. The purpose of the Sino-German Mayors' Programme is to broaden the dialogue between local decision-makers in the two countries on urban transition, structural changes and sustainable urban development.

Speaking in Berlin at the opening of this year's visit, Gunther Adler, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), pointed out that, ‘since the launch of the programme in 1982, more than 800 Chinese mayors have already exchanged ideas on sustainable development with their German colleagues. This close cooperation is very important because both countries have set themselves ambitious targets for climate and environmental protection in their cities.’

Among the addresses visited by the mayors were the Senate Department for Urban Development in Berlin, the Institute for Urban Development, Town Planning and Construction in Cologne, the Hamburg environment and energy authority, Energie Baden-Württemberg AG, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, and the head office of the global network of cities ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. Above all, the Chinese mayors were interested in Hamburg's green roofs strategy, as this combines aspects of environmental protection, the promotion of biodiversity and adaptation to climate change. Moreover, the Ruhr area, as an example of urban transformation from an industrial zone to a sustainable, green city, was seen as highly relevant to the situation in China. The mayors from China's coal-producing provinces were particularly surprised to see that a city like Essen is now the ‘European Green Capital’, a fact which gave them new impetus for their work at home.

The Sino-German Mayors' Programme has been part of a cooperation agreement between the two countries for the last 35 years. Organised every year by the China Association of Mayors and the Association of German Cities, these two-week study trips are now being run for the first time as part of the Sino-German Urbanisation Partnership. The Urbanisation Partnership itself was agreed in November 2015, between BMUB and the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD). The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH was commissioned to conduct the Partnership within the scope of BMUB’s International Climate Initiative (IKI).

The Urbanisation Partnership is constantly looking for cities in Germany and China that would be interested in contributing to the Mayors' Programme in the years to come, for instance by hosting the Sino-German Mayors' Forum.

Further information: Peter.Sailer(at)giz.de (Beijing) or Sandra.Mueller-Volk(at)giz.de (Bonn)