Cooperation between Espoo and Shanghai receives important recognition

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2018-11-21 9:00

The City of Shanghai has selected Espoo as its Sister City of the Year 2018. The award ceremony was held on 16 November 2018 in the China International Friendship Cities Conference in Wuhan, China. The tree-day event attracted 800 participants from 60 cities across the world that have Chinese sister cities.

Markku Markkula, Chairman of the City Board, accepted the award on behalf of the City of Espoo. Markkula was also one of the keynote speakers of the conference, addressing the role of cities in promoting sustainable development and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Cities of Espoo and Shanghai have been cooperating for 20 years. Despite their different sizes, they face similar challenges, such as climate change, sustainable growth and population ageing. Highlights of their long-term cooperation include the sister schools of upper secondary schools, cooperation between universities and institutions of higher education and business contacts.

According to Markkula, the sister city connection is an excellent platform on which various communities can interact. At the conference, Markkula and the representatives of the City of Shanghai amongst other things discussed Shanghai’s opportunities to draw from the Espoo Innovation Garden experiences and Espoo’s excellent role in the European Union when Shanghai speeds up its own development of science, innovation and business parks.

“Now that Espoo is one of the pioneering cities implementing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the university cities category, we should benefit from this as well as we can together with companies, researchers and other groups. In this conference, Finland was introduced to an audience of almost a thousand people as a leading land of expertise and happiness. Our cooperation with Shanghai offers opportunities that only few have fully grasped so far. We have to find the know-how and the courage to adopt a global role that far exceeds our size as a city,” says Markkula.

The conference issued a communiqué that drew attention to the modernisation of city development, economic globalisation and cooperation that respects the principles of sustainable development.

In line with the conference theme, Markkula underscores the importance of sharing opportunities and practical cooperation where everyone wins. Cities create preconditions, but people and companies do the actual work and achieve results. He compares the current atmosphere in China to what he has seen on his approximately twenty trips to China in various roles over a period of almost 30 years.

“Right now, practical hands-on work is making great strides. Here in China, I noticed that there are dozens of agreements on mutual development and construction projects that involve Chinese investments around the world. In recent years, cooperation and Chinese politics have clearly shifted to favour business cooperation and win-win results,” Markkula concludes.

Awarded sister cities

As part of the China International Friendship Cities Conference, awards were handed out to Sister Cities of the Year, selected by Chinese cities. Among them was Espoo, selected by Shanghai. In earlier years, Shanghai has selected for example Osaka, Montreal, Rotterdam, San Francisco and Hamburg among its sister cities as the award recipient.

Children and learning were key themes

Key themes: Children and learning.

Appendix: Cities as forerunners in implementing UN SDGs in China-EU cooperation (pdf, 453 Kt)