The closing conference of the EU-Canada component of the EU's highly successful World Cities cooperation project was held in Ottawa on Friday 20 June 2016. The project, which originates in a proposal of the European Parliament, provides for the pairing of city authorities and actors in Europe with their counterparts in, respectively, China, India, Canada and Japan, with the aim of encouraging exchanges of experience and best practice, and the development of joint projects. Participating in the Ottawa event were the Canadian cities of Saanich, Edmonton, Ottawa and Halifax and their EU counterparts, respectively, Almada (PT), Vitoria-Gasteiz (ES), Hannover (DE) and Tallinn (EE).
In his keynote address to the conference, Ronnie Hall, chief advisor in the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy said that urbanization was a global challenge. He drew attention to the role of urban development as a central pillar of the EU's cohesion policy programmes for 2014-2020. "We have put in place a battery of actions to advance the urban agenda in Europe, and our cities have responded enthusiastically. More of the EU's resources will be directly managed by the cities than ever before. The cities also have new opportunities to experiment and to link up with European counterparts. We are in the process of creating a fund of experience which will also contribute to our international relations with cities outside the EU", he said.