Office for International Relations

Picture (Licence/photographer/designer): Fachbereich Marketing + Kommunikation / Roland Gorecki

Dortmund and Urban Diplomacy

International municipal cooperation is more important than ever, now and in the future. With 54% of the world's population currently living in cities, it is expected that this figure will rise to 70% by 2050.
Municipalities are often the ones who have to deal directly with urgent issues such as climate protection, mobility, integration, health or education and thus have to master a wide range of problems. Municipal exchange is therefore an important component in solving global challenges.

For that reason, the City of Dortmund has established the position of a coordinator for Urban Diplomacy – a cross-sectional task that draws on the fields of international and European affairs and sustainable development. It thus includes involvement at all levels, from municipalities, regions, states to Europe and the world.

Urban diplomacy is a complex field of activity that includes cooperation with sister cities and through project partnerships, addressing issues in development and economic policy, actively promoting scientific exchange and intercultural cooperation, as well as responding to questions of immigration and municipal services of general interest.
Internally, Urban Diplomacy serves as a bridge to the citizens and communicates processes and events on a global and European level in a clear and understandable way.
Externally, Urban Diplomacy maintains relations with other levels of government in one’s own country – i.a. through city networks – as well as with United Nations organisations that work closely with cities.

With the position of a coordinator for Urban Diplomacy – filled by Fabian Zeuch since 1 November 2020 – the City of Dortmund is the first municipality in Germany to explicitly commit to the topic of Urban Diplomacy.

The main tasks include the following:

  • Cooperation in international and municipal associations and committees
  • Cooperation with the United Nations
  • Development of municipal, strategic project partnerships
  • Coordination of international projects in the field of sustainable urban development
  • International representation of the City of Dortmund
  • Organisation of ambassadors’ visits and visits by foreign delegations

U.S.-German Futures Forum 2022 - participation of the City of Dortmund

With the central demand of involving cities more strongly and systematically in foreign policy, Martin van der Pütten, Director of the Office for International Relations participated in the U.S.-German Futures Forum 2022 in Münster on November 3, 2022.

Addressing the topic of "urban diplomacy," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken described the great potential that exchanges across different policy levels hold and called for further intensifying relationships between cities and their citizens.

At the Futures Forum, ca. 140 participants from the United States and Germany developed proposals on how democracy could be strengthened in an increasingly digital world. The fact that municipal innovation partnerships, such as the one between Dortmund and Pittsburgh (USA), also play an important role in this regard was brought up by Martin van der Pütten in the workshop "Advancing Democracy and Human Rights Online Globally: An Affirmative Vision".

The U.S.-German Futures Forum with the title "The Future of Democracy in a Digital World," was organized by the U.S. State Department, the German Federal Foreign Office, the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) and took place on the sidelines of the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting. A follow-up conference will take place in the United States in 2023.

Picture Collection: U.S.-German Futures Forum 2022

Panel discussion with German Foreign Minister Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Blinken 4 pictures
Panel discussion with German Foreign Minister Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Blinken
Picture (Licence/photographer/designer): Martin van der Pütten


Department for Mayoral and City Council's AffairsFabian Zeuch

Portrait Fabian Zeuch
D- 44122 Dortmund
Coordinator Urban Diplomacy