Civic Hall - venue for Urban Diplomacy conference


The first Urban Diplomacy Partnership Conference for German and British Cities launches in Leeds this month

  • On 19th-21st June, German and British city leaders and experts will gather at Leeds Civic Hall for the first Urban Diplomacy German-British Partnership Conference, supporting existing German-British city-to-city partnerships and cities interested in such a cooperation
  • The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Kingdom, Miguel Berger, will host the evening reception and is a keynote speaker along with the Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis
  • The purpose of Urban Diplomacy Exchange project is to facilitate relations between cities and strengthen their role of supporting the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and its 17 goals for sustainable development
  • The focus of the conference this year is environmental and social sustainability, which the city of Leeds is leading by example

The Urban Diplomacy Exchange (UDE) is joining forces with The Leeds City Council’s International Relations team to host the first Urban Diplomacy Partnership Conference between German and UK cities, which will take place in Leeds this month.

Having just begun at the end of 2021, The UDE is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by The Service Agency Communities in One World of Engagement Global in cooperation with The Association of German Cities. Its first conference for German-American city partnerships was held in Washington, D.C in October last year.

From 19th-21st June, the city of Leeds will host German and British city mayors, leaders and senior officers, providing a stage for essential knowledge exchange between cities, giving delegates the space to hear about the current developments in their partnerships, as well as lending an ear to VIP keynote speakers including The German Ambassador about urban diplomacy and German-British relations.

Recognising the global importance of cities in developing solutions to global challenges, it is the first conference of its kind for German-British partnerships and aims to promote “city partnerships for an inclusive and sustainable future”. By bringing together German-British city-to-city partnerships, like the connection Leeds has with its twin city, Dortmund, it creates opportunities for inward investment and export, whilst at the same time recognising the inclusion of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Urban Diplomacy Exchange addresses the following SDGs: “sustainable cities and communities”, “peace, justice and strong institutions” and “partnerships for the goals”. With this year’s focus shining a light on environmental and social sustainability, Leeds and other nine British and nine German participating cities will showcase good practices already at play in the cities. Leeds itself is the city home to Leeds Sustainability Institute undertaking internationally significant research, and working to reduce its carbon footprint to aim to become carbon neutral by 2030. Leeds also has a portfolio of 19 venues securing green accreditations with many more outlining sustainability targets within their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The conference will include a mixture of plenary sessions, keynote speeches, partnership pitches, workshops, and site visits in Leeds that will highlight excellent work to support inclusivity and sustainability. The leading speakers include Miguel Berger, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Kingdom, Al Garthwaite, Lord Mayor of the City of Leeds, James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council and Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi, Founding Director of City Diplomacy Lab. The evening of the 19th will see the GermanAmbassador host a reception of which notable leaders including city Mayors from bothGermany and England.

Livia Pichorner, Project Lead of Urban Diplomacy Exchange said: “We’re really excited to host our first German-British Partnership Conference and bring together delegates to discuss the common vision of city-to-city partnerships. Our purpose is to find local solutions for global challenges and this conference will be a vital event to share knowledge and great ideas of ways forward. We’re hoping the meeting this month will raise the awareness of Urban Diplomacy and Sustainable Development Goals into city partnerships and further strengthen the existing relationships between German and UK cities.”

Henriette Mahamane, International Relations Manager commented: “We’re thrilled this conference is launching in Leeds. Our twin cities for over 50 years are Dortmund and Siegen, which makes us a very relevant fit. Dating back to after the Second World War when cities began twinning to promote peace, the partnership has provided the grounds to engage in youth delegation visits for both German and British young people in addition to various other projects benefiting individuals and organisations across our cities.”

Claire Heap, Head of Conference Leeds commented: “The Urban Diplomacy German-British Partnership Conference is an important international event showcasing cooperation on sustainable development and cultural relations. We’re proud that Leeds is a fairtrade city and with the Leeds Sustainability Institute undertaking significant global research the city has fantastic international connections. With the city’s goals to become carbon neutral by 2030, Leeds is the perfect place to hold this conference and sets the scene for cross-national sustainability goals we’re all hoping to achieve.”

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Notes to Editors:

Leeds is acknowledged as the Best UK Conference Destination (2020 C&IT Awards) and in 2021, hosted 20,000 conferences that welcomed one million delegates and generated £138 million (UKCAMS). Leeds’ visitor economy was also worth £1.45 billion in 2021 as the city welcomed 20.28 million tourism visits that year (STEAM).

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