Town Twinning. Municipal Development Partnerships

What are the challenges for municipal de-velopment partnerships in development policy?

Term Paper, 2020

12 Pages, Grade: 2,0



1 Introduction

2 Current State of Research

3 Central Definitions

4 European and German Development Partnerships in the Global South
4.1 Networks for municipal development work
4.2 SKEW as a competence center for municipal development policy in Germany

5 Municipal development work in Germany using examples

6 Problems and obstacles of municipal development partnerships

7 Conclusion

Internet Sources


1 Introduction

"The current international system still focuses largely on the nation-state level and often does not recognize cities' independent role, but only considers them as "stakeholders." Increasingly, however, cities act alone or in associations as independent actors international relations." This German government's guideline on international cooperation for sustainable urbanization "Partners in a World of Cities" illustrates that cities (municipalities) are becoming increasingly important. This applies, particularly to development policy. The unchecked population growth in the global South poses significant challenges. The German government also sees these challenges: "By 2050, global population growth will be entirely absorbed by cities. Until then, however, this growth will take place almost exclusively in emerging and developing countries. The number of people living in cities will nearly double from nearly 3 billion to over 5 billion in 2050. ( Despite this development, development aid is only slowly adapting to these new challenges. Municipal development partnerships have not yet moved into the focus of researchers either.

The following paper, therefore, aims to examine town twinning in the context of development policy.

The research question is:

What opportunities do municipal development partnerships offer for development policy?

In the first two chapters, the current state of research and the central concepts will be clarified. This will be followed by a look at European and German development partnerships. It will also introduce city associations that are committed to providing development assistance and BMZ.

Subsequently, municipal development work will be explained using examples. Finally, the municipalities' obstacles will be pointed out, and recommendations for action will be given in a concluding conclusion.

The paper aims to show that municipal development partnerships have great potential to effectively counteract the new challenge of urbanization in developing countries (and the associated shift in problems). The focus of the paper is to be placed on German municipalities.

The following paper, therefore, aims to examine town twinning in the context of development policy.

2 Current State of Research

As already mentioned in the introduction, town twinning, especially municipal development partnerships, is a field of research that is not often entered. Town twinning is often mentioned in connection with transnational and international relations. This topic is rarely a central research focus. This is also illustrated by the fact that there is no exact number of worldwide town twinning (and thus development partnerships included). The political disinterest in the topic makes it difficult for research institutions to obtain the funds to collect data. Nor do the individual continents offer any figures for town twinning. This is most likely to be the case in the EU through the CEMR database.

The book by Thomas Grunert from 1981 is still considered the definitive work on town twinning, where he examines Franco-German town twinning. Only 33 years later did a work appears that contains town twinning as the sole focus of research. Kai Pfundheller explores the possibility of town twinning as an alternative foreign policy for the municipalities. The two authors Hansjürgen Garstka (1972) and Beate Wagner (1995), should also be mentioned. Garstka, like Grunert, examined Franco-German town twinning. However, he did not delve as deeply into the study of town twinning as Grunert did. Ms. Wagner discusses the partnerships of municipalities according to their transnational contribution to international security. She also does not focus directly on the associations.

Only the publications of the German Institute of Urban Affairs are explicitly interesting for municipal development partnerships. Municipal development partnerships are mentioned if connected with development policy, but they are rarely the sole object of research.

The literature for this field of research is minimal. Therefore, the present study will make use of many primary sources. These include direct contact with the cities, information from city archives, and the use of EU databases and data from associations of cities and municipalities. Due to the lack of data outside the EU, the present work will focus on European development partnerships.

3 Central Definitions

Municipal development partnerships are town twinning arrangements in which development policy aspects and Local Agenda 211 are at the forefront. The following section, therefore, defines twinning between municipalities.

Town twinning is defined differently in literature, by researchers, and by municipal associations. One definition describes town twinning as "lasting relations between two local authorities on a friendly and cooperative basis that is open to all social groups" (Wagner 1995: 18). Garstka, on the other hand, describes it as "a consolidated form of international relations between municipalities" (Garstka 1972: 57).

For the present work, the definition of the CEMR (Council of European Municipalities and Regions) is used. It defines town twinning as "a formal, temporal and factual partnership, not limited in time and subject matter, based on a twinning contract" ( However, this definition will not suffice for the present study. It will, therefore, be expanded to include further criteria. Firstly, two partners (municipalities) must be involved to distinguish town twinning from ring twinning. A ring partnership is a cooperation based on a partnership agreement with at least three different local authorities. (Pfundheller 2014). Secondly, the partners must have equal rights concerning decisions on town twinning. As a third criterion, town twinning must be distinguished from town sponsorships. Therefore, based on Wagner, the third criterion is "openness to all social groups" (Pfundheller 2014). The focus of city sponsorships' activities is directed solely at the national minority in foreign countries, who have the same nationality as the people in the sponsoring city. (Pfundheller 2014) In town twinning, the exchange is open and desired by all social groups.

Town twinning is definitively defined as follows. This work is also understood as such: A town twinning is a formal, temporal, and factual unlimited partnership between two equal partners, based on a partnership contract, which is open to all social groups.

Some researchers also suggest differentiation of the collective term town twinning2 Since town twinning is only understood as cooperation between towns, in the meantime, however, the term "town twinning" has become accepted and established for the partnership for all local authorities. This is also advocated in the present study.

4 European and German Development Partnerships in the Global South

Compared to inner-European city partnerships, development partnerships play a quantitatively subordinate role. Within Europe, there are about 38000 town twinning projects. European alliances in Latin America, Africa, and Asia are estimated to number just under 2000. ( This is only 5% of all town twinning projects. This trend is also evident in Germany. Of over 5000 town twinning agreements, just under 300 are with cities in Asia, Latin America, or Africa.

4.1 Networks for municipal development work

There are already several networks that promote development aid among cities. The most important of them are presented here.

The Cities Alliance is a global partnership established by the World Bank and the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (later known as UN-Habitat) to distribute grants, share information between local governments, and make policy recommendations to combat urban poverty in developing countries". Mukhija, Vinit (February 2006)

The United Cities and Local Governments are committed to being the voice and global advocate of democratic local self-government and promoting its values, goals, and interests through cooperation among local governments and the international community.

Its work program focuses on:

- Strengthening the role and influence of local authorities and their representative organizations in global governance;
- Becoming the primary source of support for democratic, effective, innovative, and citizen-oriented local government;
- It is ensuring an effective and democratic global organization.

The C40 Cities is a group of 94 cities representing almost one-tenth of the world's population and one-quarter of the world economy. C40 was created and led by cities and focuses on combating climate change. It also promotes urban policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks while improving urban citizens' health, well-being, and economic opportunities.

The Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) is the most crucial German agency for municipal development. It provides information, advice, and support to municipalities in the following areas: Globally sustainable cities, migration and development at the municipal level, fair trade and fair procurement, municipal partnerships, and international development-policy inter-municipal relationships.


1 A Local Agenda 21 is a program of action that aims to develop a community towards sustainability. The model for this local action program is a global program, Agenda 21, adopted in 1992 by the then members of the UN, which contains measures in numerous policy areas to make the way of life and economy of the human species sustainable ("surviving the 21st century"). In addition to international institutions and national governments, Agenda 21 addresses all political levels; Chapter 28 of this document calls on all municipalities in the signatory countries to draw up such a sustainability-oriented action program at their status as well( #1)

2, For example, district partnership, community partnership, and town partnership. (Fever 1995)

Excerpt out of 12 pages


Town Twinning. Municipal Development Partnerships
What are the challenges for municipal de-velopment partnerships in development policy?
University of Potsdam
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
Development, development policy, municipal development partnerships, Town Twinning, international politics, politic, munisipal partnership
Quote paper
Hüseyin Ugur Sagkal (Author), 2020, Town Twinning. Municipal Development Partnerships, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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