The City of Ghent reorients its existing partnerships

Ghent redefines the ties with its sister and partner cities. Only the partnership with the Japanese city of Kanazawa will be maintained.

In line with the international trend to shift from bilateral to multilateral cooperations, the City of Ghent has primarily focused on cooperation through international networks such as Eurocities and European grant projects in the past few years. In response to these international trends, the City of Ghent is of the opinion that it is time to carefully revise the current relations with its sister and partner cities and make choices in how Ghent wants to see these partnerships evolve.

7 sister cities, 5 partner cities

The City of Ghent currently has 7 sister cities (Saint-Raphaël in France, Wiesbaden and Melle  in Germany, Kanazawa in Japan, Tallinn in Estonia, Mohammedia in Morocco and Nottingham in the UK) and 5 official partner cities (Burgas in Bulgaria, Gdansk in Poland, Weihai and Taizhou in China and Liège in Belgium). 

Continuing partnership with Kanazawa

There is a highly active and widely supported cooperation with several partners in Ghent and the Japanese city of Kanazawa. They strongly contribute to a vibrant dynamic of exchanges and collaborative projects.That is why Ghent reorients its existing partnerships and will only maintain the partnership with the Japanese city of Kanazawa

Assessment of bilateral partnerships

The City of Ghent has not taken this decision lightly. lt has made an informed choice on the basis of many years of international experience, a survey among several cities and an internal evaluation of the collaboration with its sister and partner cities.

The Service of International Relations and Networking has assessed the current bilateral partnerships on the basis of their importance and activity. On the basis of this assessment, they have developed a vision of bilateral partnerships with foreign cities in order to optimise the principles of formal bilateral partnerships between cities and agree on a city-wide approach. In this context, the City of Ghent has opted for a limited number of formal partnerships that clearly contribute to the implementation of the strategie multi-annual plan. One of the principal starting points is that the City of Ghent is not in favour of entering into new bilateral partnerships and prefers to decrease the number of existing partnerships, increase their effectiveness and above all focus as much as possible on international networking and projects through European grant programmes. A distinction is made between partnerships inside and outside Europe, as in the latter case there is less scope for maintaining relationships through European grant projects or international networks in which the City of Ghent participates.

Years of successful projects

Over the years, Ghent has actively cooperated with its sister cities Kanazawa, Tallinn and Wiesbaden, while the relations with its sister cities Melle, Nottingham, Mohammedia and Saint-Raphaël have been rather dormant in the past decade.

The twinning partnership with Saint-Raphaël was terminated in 2018 at the request of Saint-Raphaël's twinning committee. In the last decades, successful collaborative projects have also been set up with Ghent's partner cities within the scope of cooperation agreements which have shaped these partnerships. The City of Ghent has fond memories of these partnerships and is of the opinion that lasting amicable relations between citizens and associations will continue to prosper without the City's support.