INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND COOPERATION NETWORKS
The long-term development strategy of Riga (up to 2030) and the Riga City development programme both provide for multiple targets directly connected to the city development, such as economical development based on the East-West relationship, competitive and growing economics, a clean and green, comfortable city that is easy to access, safe city environment, an educated and culture-cherishing society. In order to ensure successful achievement of the goals and the policy-making of city’s economic activity, it is necessary to get acquainted with the experience of capitals and large cities of other countries, as well as to develop cooperation with cities and large regions of other countries in the areas of economics, tourism, social and environmental affairs, transportation, energy, culture, education, healthcare and other areas relevant for citizens of Riga.
The participation and involvement of Riga in various international organizations and cooperation networks ensures the upper hand privilege not only when working in a bilateral aspect, but simultaneously when participating in forums and committee workgroups of international organizations and cooperation networks or taking the lead in managing the working groups, and city representatives being elected in the Executive boards of organizations and networks, therefore directly participating in the process of solving essential issues. As a result of city representation or participation in international organizations or cooperation networks, many meetings of different workgroups are being regularly held in Riga. Participation in the international field is always a platform for knowledge, ideas and experience exchange, innovative mutual problem solving in the Europe and Baltic Sea region, as well as in the global scope.
1. Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC)
Union of the Baltic Cities brings together 106 cities of 10 Baltic Sea region countries. It was founded in 1991 in Gdansk (by 32 cities, Riga as well) to ensure the cooperation between the cities of Western Europe (Germany, Scandinavia) and Eastern Europe. UBC organizes the work in 7 committees (Planning Cities, Sustainable Cities, Youthful Cities, Smart and prospering Cities, Cultural Cities, Inclusive and healthy Cities). Riga is working in the following Commissions: Planning Cities, Youthful Cities, Sustainable Cities, Cultural Cities, and Safe Cities. The UBC Local Safety and Public Order Working Group was officially confirmed during the first meeting in Riga on 14.10.2010. The Safe Cities committee was formed on the base of this working group.
2. European Forum for Urban Security (Efus)
Efus is a network of more than 250 towns and cities from 17 countries, which was created in 1987 by European mayors under the auspices of the Council of Europe.
Based on the principle of “cities helping cities”, Efus members share and compare their experiences and expertise to strengthen their local policies and to contribute to the establishment of European crime prevention policies. The European Forum organises for its members EU-funded exchange projects, conferences, training programmes and technical assistance missions. The European Forum has not only contributed to an increased awareness
of the political and social issues surrounding urban security but also to concrete local actions which, in return, have stimulated new lines of thought and new urban policies throughout the world. It is for that purpose that Efus has become a recognised expert within political authorities and European and international institutions.
Since Riga City Municipality is a member of Efus. Riga Municipality Police has an opportunity to be a part of information and experience exchange processes that are focused on the Riga City public policy and safety improvement.
3. Städtebund DIE HANSE
In 1980, with the initiative of the Netherlands city Zwolle a new, modern Hanseatic cities union was founded, and consequently the historical tradition of Hanseatic cities fest was renewed. The modern Hanseatic cities union’s goal is to foster the cooperation between member cities in order to invest into their economic, social, cultural and tourism development.
Since September of 2000 Riga is officially a member of the Hanseatic cities union. Each year the International modern Hanse Days are being hosted in different member cities. The Hanse committee and the Delegate meeting, as well as the International Economic Forum, the Hanseatic cities exhibition & fair, the art exhibition HANSEartWORKS and YouthHanse, which is a separate program for young people – all of these events are taking place throughout the International modern Hanse days fest. A broad international culture program is offered as well. During the International modern Hanse cities fest Riga is traditionally represented by the Riga City Council delegation and the culture program representatives group. Riga participates in the Hanse exhibition and fair with a promotion stand and delegates representatives in the youth program.
The city of Riga is active in the Hanse committee and represents other Latvian Hanseatic cities there (Cēsis, Koknese, Kuldīga, Limbaži, Straupe, Valmiera un Ventspils).
4. Cooperation network for large European cities (EUROCITIES)
In the November of 2002 Riga was officially accepted to the international city organization EUROCITIES. This organization is Europe’s cooperation network for big cities with more than 130 member cities from 30 European countries. It was founded in 1986 with the goal to develop cooperation between cities in the areas of economics, social affairs, environment, transportation, culture, education, information and the like, as well as to foster protection of the cities’ interests in the EU and make up a sustainable vision for future development. EUROCITIES is a platform for knowledge, ideas and experience exchange, innovative mutual problem solving on the European scale. Various working groups in different specializations have been developed within this cooperation network.
Riga has been engaging in the EUROCITIES Culture forum, Social affairs forum, the Migration and integration working group and the Economic development forum quite actively. The question of participation in the EUROCITIES projects is very important – more than 50% of the project costs are being covered by the EU within the framework of financed programs, but the remaining funding portion has to be co-financed by every member city.
5. Baltic Metropoles Network (BaltMet)
The BaltMet network was founded in 2002 and it includes 11 Baltic Sea region metropolises: Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Malmö, Oslo, Riga, Saint-Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn, Vilnius and Warsaw. The main goal of the BaltMet cooperation network’s activities is to use the prerogatives of cooperation in order to foster international recognition, competitiveness and balanced development of the Baltic Sea region. This network is a voluntarily founded and existing institution, which brings together members with mutual interests, a forum for experience and knowledge exchange, it also provides possibilities to achieve personal and mutual goals and interests. The main focus of the network is directed at the implementation of mutual projects within the framework of certain priorities of the work plan, though the network also actively works in the process of creating mutual opinions on different questions of the EU policy.
Many projects financed by the EU were enacted within the framework of BaltMet, where the city of Riga was both the leading partner and one of the partners of the project.
6. The Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas (METREX)
METREX is a European metropolitan regions and areas network and it was founded in 1996 during the Glasgow Metropolitan Regions Conference together with the local West Scotland municipality and the support of European Commission. Around fifty large city regions are members of the union and its goal is knowledge and experience exchange between experts – politicians, officials and their advisers on the topic of urban planning (spatial planning and development on metropolitan level), as well as collaborative action in a mutual interest field. Activities of the City Development Department of the Riga City Council in the METREX Union were started in 1997 due to an invitation to participate in the conference organized by the Union. The METREX conference and the general assembly take place once every two years.
7. The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC)
227 cities from all around the world that were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List – including Riga – have united in the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), which was founded in 1993. Its goal and activities are aimed at the implementation of World Heritage convention. The „Second Budapest document” declaration on the establishment of the OWHC Central and Eastern Europe Secretariat in Budapest was signed on June 12th, 1998, in Budapest. This declaration was also signed by Riga.
8. The International Committee for Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH)
The International Committee for Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) was founded in 1999. It is a worldwide organization that is responsible for the industrial heritage and its goals are to foster international cooperation regarding the conservation, preservation, research, documentation, interpretation and further exploration of the industrial heritage. Riga city municipality has joined TICCIH in April of 2003 with a goal to foster conservation of the industrial heritage valuable for Riga, as well as to attract investments to develop industrial heritage sites.
9. The League of Historical Cities
The first World Conference of the Historical Cities took place in 1987 in Kyoto; within its framework the Historical Cities World Conference Council with its head office in Kyoto was founded. It was trusted a role in organizing future conferences. In 1994, when Kyoto held its fourth conference (in the meantime conferences also took place in other cities), the Council was disbanded and the League of Historical Cities was found. It aimed to preserve historical values of the cities.
The League of Historical Cities organizes the annual Historical Cities World Conference, which has fostered a constructive dialogue on the preservation and development of historical cities between its members. Riga has officially started working in the League of the Historical Cities since 2007 after the invitation to participate in the conference organized by the league.
10. International non-profit association “Union of Gastronomic cities” (Délice)
On September 18th, 2007, the establishing meeting of the World Union of Gastronomic cities took place in Lyon, France, and Riga was one of the few cities that signed the intent protocol on joining the Union. The goal of the elite union is to foster experience exchange between the cities’ representatives (municipality officers, chefs, scholars of restaurant schools and students), create a catering culture, introduce different culinary heritage projects, improve the quality of catering in the Union’s cities, as well as use the art of gastronomy as an element in creating the image of a city. Altogether the World Union of Gastronomic Cities includes 21 member cities.
With the help of this association in cooperation with representatives of domestic gastronomical sectors in Riga, the quality of catering in educational facilities, cafes and restaurants will be improved. Délice is a unique element of city marketing, which will provide for the development of new gastronomical/culinary tourism products in Riga: for example, a gastronomical trail for tourists, which is going to improve recognition of Riga and promote a positive city image not only on a domestic, but also on an international level.
11. European folk culture and art festival Europeade
European folk culture and art festival is one of the biggest European folk art and culture festivals and forums, which is being organized since 1964 with the goal to create friendship and cultural ties between the people, popularizing the art and folklore of every ethnic group in a united Europe. Latvia has joined this art forum after regaining its independence.
Europeade is being organized by the International Europeade Committee (non-governmental organization), which is composed by representatives from different European regions (altogether 38 representatives from different European countries, including Riga, Latvia). Europeade is being held in different cities every year and the practical organizational work is being done by the domestic committee while cooperating with the International Europeade Committee. The festival usually lasts 5 days. Riga is traditionally represented by different dance and folklore collectives, choirs, and the participation possibilities are supported by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports of the Riga City Council.
12. European cities association of sustainable energy policy (“Energy Cities”)
„Energy Cities” is an association of domestic municipalities that promote sustainable energy policy. It was founded in 1990 and it represents 1000 cities from 30 countries. The Riga municipality has joined “Energy Cities” in May of 2011 in order to promote Riga’s image and foster information and experience exchange in the areas of sustainable energy policy implementation.
13. Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Electro-mobility in European Regions Association (HyER)
Riga has joined the Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Electro-mobility in European Regions Association in April of 2014 with the goal to foster and promote the city’s progress in the development of hydrogen technology and electro-mobility within the framework of sustainable energy policies, which improves air quality in the city.
14. WHO European Healthy Cities
Riga has joined the WHO European Healthy Cities network in July of 2013, in accordance with the public healthcare plan of 2012 – 2021 “Healthy Rigan – Healthy Riga” introduced by the Riga City Municipality.
15. International tourism film festival committee (CIFFT)
Seventeen film festivals from different cities of the world are united in this organization. Since 2008 Riga City Council is organizing the International tourism film festival “Tourfilm Riga”. In 2009, during the meeting of the General Assembly of the International tourism film festival committee (CIFFT) in Vienna, the decision to include the festival “Tourfilm Riga” in the International tourism film festival committee (CIFFT) was made unanimously. Consequently, the International tourism film festival “Tourism Riga” is a member of CIFFT since 2009.
16. European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN)
Eighty European film commissions from 24 countries are united in the International Film Commissions Network. The EUFCN representative film market, pamphlets and the webpage are among the first stops for foreign film producers who are looking for information on filming and cooperation possibilities in Europe. Participation in the meetings is combined with participation and work in the film markets organized during certain film festivals, as well as work on the Latvian market stands.
17. European network of regional film funds (CINE-REGIO)
The network brings together 37 regional film funds from 15 European countries. CINE-REGIO members are offered consultations and information about the activities and development of regional film funds, as well as consultations on the European Union legislation in these areas; interests of the funds are being lobbied in various European Union institutions; mutual co-production projects are being promoted.
Many meetings within the framework of the network are taking place throughout the year; however, the most important meetings are organized during big festivals (such as Berlin and Cannes).
18. International association “Baltic Sail”
„Baltic Sail” is a set of many harbor festivals that are organized by Baltic harbor cities with the goal to promote maritime traditions and support sailing. A sailing festival is planned to take place in Riga during the Riga City fest (each August of every year). Riga has joined this association in November of 2014 to promote the city as an ancient harbor trade city, to attract foreign tourists and to promote maritime traditions.
19. European Social Network (ESN)
European Social Network was founded to acquire innovative solutions and ideas, and to improve the quality of social services. It brings together institutions that create, manage and implement social services. Riga has officially been active in the ESN since October of 2013.