Espoo is a home for people and enterprises from all over the world. Currently about 18% of the population speak a foreign mother tongue and more than 600 international companies are located in Espoo.
The City of Espoo is an active participant in international networks. These organisations offer platforms for sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas in order to improve the city’s services and the competence of its staff. Furthermore these networks make important policy work on specific issues and reinforce the important role that local government plays.
The City of Espoo maintains established friendships with twin towns from the Nordic countries, Russia, China, the United States, Estonia and Hungary. Mutual understanding and cooperation is promoted through these friendships. City officials and citizens exchange ideas and explore other twin towns. Cultural and educational cooperation has been particularly important in Espoo’s twin town relations.
In 1998 Espoo and Shanghai signed a sister city agreement and a year later the first memorandum of understanding was signed. According to the current memorandum of understanding Espoo and Shanghai work together particularly in the fields of science and technology, cooperation in higher education and exchange of best-practices.
Twin towns of Espoo:
Sister city cooperation between Espoo and Shanghai
Espoo is most actively engaged in sister city cooperation with Shanghai. Espoo and Shanghai have been sister cities for over 20 years, and this cooperation has benefited Finnish business life extensively. Inter-city cooperation is highly important as it enables interaction between different actors, opens doors, enhances learning and makes it easier to solve sustainable development challenges. Highlights of this long-term cooperation include the sister schools of upper secondary schools, cooperation between universities and other institutions of higher education and business contacts.
In 2018, Shanghai gave Espoo the Sister City of the Year award at the China International Friendship Cities Conference. The award has previously been given to Osaka, Montreal, Rotterdam, San Francisco and Hamburg, among others.
The cooperation between the two cities is based on a Memorandum of Understanding. The first MoU was signed in 1999. The current agreement is valid until 2019, specifying the themes of cooperation:
- innovations and development
- business, trade and investments
- tourism and conferences
- sustainable development
- health, well-being and elderly care
The students of Espoo’s upper secondary schools have many opportunities to build international networks – one way is to participate in the Shanghai cooperation. Since 2016, all Espoo upper secondary schools have had a sister school in Shanghai.