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World Cities is a project of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) designed to facilitate the exchange of experience and best practice between the European Union and third countries on the theme of territorial development.

The World Cities project consists of separate exchanges that facilitate municipal government dialogues between cities in the European Union and specific partnering countries. These exchanges will pair European cities with cities from partner countries to discuss and collaborate on actions related to topics of mutual interest. During 2015 and 2016, the World Cities Project will run several working meetings and study visits in China, India, Japan, Canada and Europe. Through these activities, the project will facilitate the exchange of information and good practices on regional and urban development policy issues.


By the year 2025, approximately two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas, with 95 percent of urban population growth taking place in partner countries and concentrated in the lowest income groups. Urbanization has different causes including the migration of people from small towns and rural areas to major metropolitan areas and the rural-to-urban migration to the intermediate towns, as well as the natural increase of existing populations in metropolitan cities.

European cities have extensive experience in dealing with urbanization challenges and developing smart, green, inclusive, and attractive cities with a high standard of living. A European model of urban sustainability is emerging, grounded in an appropriate geographical and functional mix and reliable access to key services (housing, health, education, green infrastructures, culture and mobility), and it increasingly serves as a reference worldwide.

Promoting sustainable urban development is a key element of EU regional policy. which is implemented through the design and implementation of tailor-made, integrated development plans prepared where possible in partnership with the authorities in Europe’s cities. EU urban policy experience shows that cities have to adopt a holistic model of development and work across sectors (social, economic, environmental and energy, cultural and political components) to deal with challenges in an integrated way. This comprehensive/integrated approach to urban problems is necessary to analyze problems, identify solutions and design projects taking into account the linkages that exist between different areas of intervention.

Such experience can be shared with cities across the globe. This will allow the EU to strengthen its relations with its key partners by developing joint tools and solutions to similar problems.