The second phase of the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme, now called the International Urban Cooperation (IURC) programme launched on the 14th of April 2021. In IURC, cooperation among EU and non-EU participants will be organized along the Thematic Networks of Urban Renewal and Urban Poverty, Innovation, and Ecological Transition & Green Deal. These thematic networks are all affected by the following Cross-Cutting Challenges which will also be tackled: Smart City and Digital Transition, Post-Covid Recovery, and Climate Change and Energy Transition.
Pairings and clusters: How do they work?
Along with the programme’s public launch in April 2021, the call of pairings for cities and regions also opened. Successful applicants from the EU will be matched with partner cities and regions in one of the Geographical Areas (GA) of the programme, which is tackling similar innovation challenges. This pairing, will be based on several criteria including shared interests in one or more of the cooperation themes of the programme.
Pairings will then have the opportunity to form small clusters (with groups of cities/regional pairings) to share solutions and knowledge on similar challenges and topics of cooperation within the same GA. Pairs and clusters will then develop an action plan which will serve as a road map over the course of cooperation including actions and pilot projects that can produce transferable results.
Regional innovation opportunities in China
An added benefit of the IURC programme is the inclusion of China as an option for region-to-region cooperation. China, as one of the main global economic leaders, offers a broad range of potential in regional development and innovation. The resources of the IURC are an opportunity for a structured and durable cooperation between both sides.
Both the EU and China recognize that innovation policies need to address complex modern challenges. Cooperation under IURC provides an opportunity to share innovative experience and best practices in the fields of green economy and inclusion.
Regarding greener growth, both sides have much to share regarding the transition to a climate neutral economy; promoting business opportunities for green innovation; reconciling the long-term strategic dimensions of a climate neutral transition with short-term action.
Regarding a more inclusive growth, both sides have different experiences to share on how to strengthen social well-being in regions and cities against the background of a global pandemic; addressing the digital divide in the new information era; addressing geographical discrepancies and promoting territorial linkages.
The Latin American experience
Several Eurada members participated in the first IUC phase and got matched to regions in Latin America. The region of Northwest Romania (ADR NordEst) for example matched with Valle del Abburá in Columbia. The pairing allowed them to exchange best practices in sustainable development which led to the implementation of pilot projects in the field of green mobility and urban development for both regions.
Despite facing vastly different urban and economic realities as well as foreseen and unforeseen challenges, participants found that these often resulted in more innovative and impactful cooperation. These results are further reflected in this infographic. Another example is the region of Castilla y León (ICE) which matched with the region of Córdoba in Argentina. The experience allowed their region to expand and strengthen their international network of innovation and entrepreneurship, generating a global and collaborative ecosystem in which they were able to promote the exchange of start-ups in regional acceleration programs and the search for collaborative projects with universities, companies and start-ups from both regions.