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Mayor Corine Mauch during a meeting about urban planning

2017: 35 years of City partnership

In 2017, Zurich and Kunming’s city partnership celebrates its 35th anniversary. The fact that this cooperative relationship works so well is by no means self-evident, but it demonstrates how two very different worlds and cultures can meet in many respects. Mutual efforts to understand the other’s way of thinking and working is an important prerequisite for the success of such a partnership.

Working together for sustainable city development

The city partnership between Kunming and Zurich has existed since 1982. What began as a cultural exchange gradually developed into technical cooperation. In 1987, cooperation first began in the field of drinking water and sanitation. In 1993, this cooperation was extended to transport and urban and regional development, and now the protection of monuments has also become a major focus. All activities that fall within the City Partnership are summarised under the overall objective of sustainable city development and the promotion of climate protection. Within the cultural sphere, since 2008, there has been a regular exchange of artists between Kunming and Zurich.

This partnership has yielded good results in some areas: in the improvement of the drinking water supply, in public transport (e.g. separate bus lanes, pedestrian zones, cycle tracks), in the protection of monuments, as well as in the field of city planning. The solutions subsequently developed have been based on principles of sustainability which now serve as a model in the People’s Republic of China.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is responsible for financing the external costs of the city partnership. The involvement of the city of Zurich in the municipal partnership with Kunming enhances the City’s image and opens up opportunities for Zurich and the Swiss economy.


Cooperation under the umbrella of the Sino-Swiss Low Carbon Cities Programme

Technical cooperation between Zurich and Kunming is to be embedded in SDC’s “Sino-Swiss Low Carbon Cities” programme (SSLCC) from 2017 onwards. SSLCC is a Chinese-Swiss programme that emerged from the strategic partnership on climate change between China and Switzerland, which was set up in May 2013. The goal of SSLCC is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Chinese cities. SSLCC is to contribute to a “greener” and more sustainable urbanisation, and in the process bring together the findings of existing pilot projects in the area of ​​innovative technologies, contribute to the “capacity building” of those responsible for city planning and stimulate a political dialogue at all levels. The Chinese leaders in the cities are to benefit from international/Swiss experience in the relevant stages of planning, research and implementation.


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Christina Wandeler, Tel: +41 44 412 37 84
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