Bilbao Council takes part in the World Cities project of the European Union managed by the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) of the European Commission. The project promotes the exchange of experience and best practice between the European Union and non-EU countries on the theme of territorial development with particular reference to urban development, urban-rural partnership and urban cross-border cooperation.
The Commission has singled out those countries outside the EU for prospective collaboration (South Korea, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam), and invited those European cities interested to link to another one outside Europe in order to work together and share experiences. Within this framework, Bilbao has opted for Cape Town in South Africa, with the aim being to pursue projects of joint interest in urban, sustainable and environmental matters.
With a view to developing this project, the City Council of Bilbao has sought the cooperation of sundry agents closely linked to the field of city development, which include Bilbao Metropoli-30, along with Deusto University’s Deusto Cities Lab Katedra, Bilbao Chamber of Commerce and Idom.
From 27 to 31 March 2017, a delegation from Bilbao travels to Cape Town to begin talks with their counterparts in that city.
A delegation from Cape Town visits Bilbao from 15 to 17 November 2017 to gain a first-hand understanding of the city and its projects. Bilbao’s official bodies have therefore organised a schedule that meets the delegates’ interests, consisting of the following events: reception with Bilbao City Council’s councillor for urban development, Asier Abaunza; subsequent meetings with CIMUBISA, Bilbao Ekintza and council leaders responsible for European projects under way, Bilbao Metropoli-30, Deusto University’s Deusto Cities Lab Katedra, Idom, and the Zorrotzaurre Management Committee, and visits to the area of Abandoibarra and a panoramic view of the city from the mountainside at Artxanda, among others. To bring the visit to a close, the delegates from Cape Town meet their counterparts from Bilbao to draft a series of conclusions on their visit to Bilbao and decide upon the next steps to be taken.
On 25 January 2018 there is a progress meeting of the programme and preparation of the trip to Cape Town in May 2018 with representatives from Bilbao City Council, Deusto University, Idom and European Comission.
A meeting of European and South African cities is held in Cape Town between 14 and 17 May, with the remit being to move forward in the cooperation programmes. It is attended by the EU ambassador in Pretoria, Spain’s ambassador to South Africa and the mayor of Cape Town, among other authorities, besides delegates from the cities themselves and sundry organisations related to the programme.