The external action of local governments: the internationalization of cities

Meeting in Madrid at the invitation of the FEMP, a large and successful group of panelists from both the private and public sectors and within the representatives of both political and technical level, reviewed the main issues revolving around the internationalization of cities , as the political leadership in the external strategy of local governments, the use of it in the promotion and development of cities, the so-called city marketing, the socio-cultural dimension of the international projection of cities, development cooperation, multilevel governance, European level as focus of external action outside; all of them enclosed in the mainstream of globalization as a framework.
Regarding the development of an internationalization strategy, the key is the need to observe the external action of the city as another public policy. awareness should, therefore, be raised among all stakeholders while ensuring the implementation of their planning, management and evaluation. For example, through local councils, specific master plans or being included in the strategic plans of the city. A strengthening of political leadership has also been proposed. The external strategy should pivot on the Mayor of the city in order to achieve transversality.
The growing importance that the “urban agenda” is having on European and international fora has been also discussed, so that the international strategy of local governments must have a multidimensional approach. Determining factor when designing the strategy of the city, the European level should not be limited solely to the receipt of funds, but go a step further and utilize the full potential of Europe when internationalizing the city.
As another instrument, development cooperation must also be configured as public policy. In a context of crisis, the thought must come to giving entry to new players and small and medium enterprises and to explore public-private partnerships for development. In this regard, the need to seize all assets of cities, including networks was stressed
Another cross-cutting issue was the need to well communicate the city’s international strategy. In this sense there was a consensus on the hitherto existing deficits that call for a significant improvement in both aspects related to European issues as in development cooperation.
As a suggestion to the organizers of the conference, the usefulness of this tool leads to propose this exchange to be repeated with the required regularity.
Enrique Rodríguez Martín
Técnico Superior especialista en iniciativas Internacionales
Ayuntamiento de Gijón (España)

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