The idea of an International City Network of towns
by Thomas Jühe
Over recent years the process of globalisation has been advancing at an ever increasing rate. Places that were, in previous decades, bound by ideological borders and political demarcation lines today feature an extensive freedom of travel, (partially) open markets and political cooperation.
Unfortunately, the same trend cannot yet also be seen at a communal level, where understanding between different peoples can find crucial ground; here, organised cooperation has not yet been observed.
The idea of an international network of towns addresses this deficit. The possibility to establish contacts and meet individuals is to be created across countries and even continents, which will promote understanding between peoples.
The existing instrument of town partnerships is already helpful in bringing together people from different parts of the world, and in enabling friendships between countries. The formal conditions for town partnerships, however, are often found to be too binding. At the same time, the high travel costs for towns located far apart present problems which result in regular meetings with larger delegations – as the town partnership model envisages – being very difficult to realise.
The idea of an international network of towns therefore puts forth a low threshold. It is not the formalised town partnership that stands in the foreground of cooperation, but simple, mutual support instead.
If, for example, young people would like to participate in a work placement in one of the towns of the international network in order to improve their language skills, they can be helped by network partners with the provision of a work placement and, if necessary, a visa or residence permit. Similar support could be provided to companies that are interested in the internationalisation of their business. In these cases too, network partners can help each other contact the chambers of trade or commerce, and perhaps even connect business partners.
The exchange of experiences in dealing with the same or similar communal tasks can also be organised for the partners. If necessary, funding could even be generated for the implementation of the international network idea.
Participation in the international network of towns should not obligate the partners in any way. What is relevant is what a partner is willing and able to do. The most important aspect of all is the willingness to volunteer as a partner in an international network of communes. This may lead to various forms of cooperation that are neither foreseeable nor projectable at the time of founding the network. The network opens up improved opportunities for further development for both the towns themselves and their citizens.
The following towns are invited to the international meet in Raunheim from 28.08 until 31.08.2015:
Le Teil/France, Trofarello/Italy, Pakruojis/Lithuania, Osyorsk/Russia, Chengdu-Pixian/China, Hakusan-Shiramine/Japan, Nantwich/Great Britain
Raunheim’s neighbouring towns of Kelsterbach and Rüsselsheim will also attend the meet. In turn, these towns intend to invite their partner towns of Baugé/France and Evreux.
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