Sustainability requires us to think and act together. Local and regional networks make it possible to pool capacities, interests and resources. These can cover a wide spectrum of social, environmental and economic issues and can lead to quicker solutions. Cities in poorer regions are dependent on these forms of cooperation – without them it would be impossible to deliver important municipal services.
Networks make it possible to share experience, represent interests and work together on projects. Cities welcome and support networking among civil society, business and academia, as it makes an important contribution to the delivery of public services and helps identify competent contacts for coordination and consultation processes on strategic aspects of sustainable urban development. The city of Essen, for instance, supports a large number of local business and research organisations in the network Klimainitiative Essen (Essen Climate Initiative), which aims to systematically improve energy efficiency in the city by carrying out joint activities, cooperating and developing standards.
To ensure the delivery of municipal services, sustainable solutions are needed which often transcend the city limits. Special purpose associations are a traditional form of cooperation between cities and municipalities in Germany. These are networks whose members consult and work together to deliver local public services, such as the drinking water supply and public transport. Legal provisions allow these associations to organise, manage, finance and monitor their work, which is vitally important for the sustainable development of member cities.
Networks of cities and local government associations can also work at international level to improve administrative capabilities, as demonstrated by the GIZ-supported CADESAN programme Strengthening decentralisation capacities in Andean states. By systematically sharing experience, actors from Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia are improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their national training systems for city and local government staff.
In Germany and around the world a particular challenge in urban governance is the need to shape relations between metropolitan regions and their surrounding areas. In Germany, Nuremberg, along with its neighbouring towns and local authorities, is one of 11 European metropolitan regions. A total of 22 rural districts, 11 self-governing towns and cities, and organisations from business, academia, tourism, culture and sport have come together in an overarching organisational structure and in various technical forums. Their aim is to make the best possible use of the economic and cultural potential offered by the polycentric metropolitan region and to develop an efficient infrastructure for people, goods and information.
Work in networks fosters the kind of intra- and inter-institutional, regional and supraregional dialogue and transfer of knowledge about concepts, methods and solutions that the Connective Cities Platform actively supports.