In the multilayered diplomatic environment of the 21st Century, national states and their Ministries of Foreign Affairs, are no longer the only actors on the diplomatic stage


City diplomacy: Could Mayors be the Diplomats of their own Cities?

Yes, mayors should represent their cities on international stage. In this diplomatic mission they could promote the city (this may bring more travelers), negociate and be part of some partnerships (they could bring home the know-how and maybe a way to increase their budget) and inspire from others.

In the last decades, City Hall leaders tried to explore partnerships with other international actors. At this moment, the most important Agreement, in which are involved the most and the biggest cities is Paris Agreement.

Being involved and active in such International Agreements, in a global governance with other city leaders and international experts, could bring many advantages for local communities and economies.

An international Agenda led by mayors from the most important and developed metropolises such as New York, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo could influence the way that small cities grow.

City Diplomacy is not only about climate change and sustainability. It is not limited to these two priorities.

Cities and their representatives are Key Actors on International Stage. In their “diplomatic mission” they could act at least on seven dimensions:

  1. Security
  2. Economic Development
  3. Environment
  4. Culture
  5. Transport
  6. Networks
  7. Representation

At this moment, the key municipal networks that are involved in building global governance, like Climate Leadership Group, are influenced by European and American global cities. This tendency could change quickly.

More and more cities from Asia, Latin American and Middle East are developing and aim to central political positions in these networks.

The main partners for implementing the city`s strategies and objectives are EU, the World Bank and the OECD, these are the institutions on which mayors rely. But this may be a concern for their independence and individual capacity.

At this moment, mayors remain particularly proactive catalysts that are unlikely to lose policymaking clout in an increasingly urbanized world. So, if on the question of city leadership in international affairs the jury is still out, facts from across almost all of the spectrum of global governance seem to indicate some growing diplomatic clout.

The benefits of urban networks can be summarized as follows:

• Information exchange, preventing mistakes;

• Access to the tools needed to transform the concept into implementation, such as technology or expertise;

• When cities meet, they can support each other more at national and international level;

• Target orientations are set to help monitoring the individual performance of the city;

Agenda of City Diplomacy

  • Immigration Issues;
  • Tourism and social connections between cities;
  • Virtual connection between cities and citizens;
  • Global values and cultural diversification;
  • Global and local education;


Ultimately, each municipality, each city with its rural surrounding, has to take the task of managing its resources, and to ensure the major goal that is a good standard of living for all.

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