Aalborg (Denmark) and Hefei (Anhui)

Source : North Denmark EU Office Aalborg - Brussels


ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability

Character, formal status, start and duration of the partnership

The agreement signed by the cities of Aalborg and Hefei is the result of a previous private collaboration between consortiums working on the field of raw material extraction. In 1988 the Aalborg administration was recommended to start up a twinning relation with the city of Hefei. Although the partnership was born under an essentially private boost, it is currently run by public actors.

Main topics addressed and activities undertaken within the partnership

Economic issues and trade, energy efficiency, urban planning and construction are the main topics undertaken. Education is also considered through the implementation of science, technology and sports events.

Key achievements within the partnership

In 2005, 60 hospitals from the city of Hefei (which has about 5,000,000 inhabitants) took part in the “Sustainable Waste Handling in Hefei”, a project focused on clinical waste management and financed by the Asia URBS Initiative. Through the collaboration of hazardous waste treatment and market strategy experts coming from Danish private companies, a more environmental friendly waste scheme were studied resulting in the implementation of a number of IT-based logistic systems in order to control clinical waste handling.

Since the first Danish delegation travelled to China ten years ago, business meetings are organized at a regular basis in order to discuss business issues and exchange initiatives on culture related topics.

Every four years the city of Aalborg, which counts up to 34 different twinning cities, organizes sport competitions which draw a large number of teams from all over the world. Also politic authorities meet each other regularly.

Future expectations and expected development of the partnership

There is a great potential for further cooperation between the two cities especially within exchange of public know how. However, it requires a more proactive strategy from both sides and the willingness to implement the strategy. This is the future perspective and might be realistic in the coming years if there is a political commitment from both sides as well as new funding opportunities.

Key obstacles and weaknesses in the partnership

Even though language often represents a communication barrier, this is not considered a main issue. The most relevant are the obstacles related to the proposal stage of new projects where the Hefei administration is more active in suggesting headlines of attractive projects than in developing a substantial action plan for their implementation.

Another important issue for Aalborg is the lack of funding opportunities. Neither the Danish Government nor the European Union offer adequate answers to this need. Furthermore, due to the low number of European calls, there exists a strong competition where small projects have few chances.

Needs and wishes for support to improve the partnership

The city of Aalborg would like to see an increase in the public attention on the topics concerning exchanges between cities.

City of Aalborg

The city has a population of about 200.000 inhabitants making it the fourth largest in Denmark. The current development of the city is mainly due to the thriving ship market : the Port of Aalborg is today the northern Denmark’s main import / export hub. The foundation for another of Aalborg’s largest industries - the cement development - is due to the large mass of chalk under the ground. Aalborg is also the city of knowledge thanks to its well developed Universities and of the NOVI science park. On 11 June 2004, 110 representatives of local administrations adopted the Aalborg Commitment document for rising awareness on climate and environmental protection on local level strengthening the role of European municipal governments in this sense.

City of Hefei

Hefei is a prefecture-level city – with higher administrative competences of a county and lower than a province- and the capital of Anhui province with a population of nearly 5 million inhabitants. It is the political, economic, and cultural centre of Anhui. Hefei has established sister city relationship with 12 cities in USA, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Australia, UK, Germany and Chile etc. and trade ties with over 180 countries and regions. The number of outside investors ranks the first in Anhui province. Eight key industries have taken shape, i.e., automobile, equipment manufacturing, household appliances, chemicals & tire, electronic information & software, new materials, bio-technology & new medicine, deep processing of food & agricultural products and side-products. As an important base for science and education in China, Hefei is the first and sole Science and Technology Innovation Pilot City in China, and a member city of WTA (World Technopolis Association).


This case study belongs to the file « Europe - China Exchange Platform Survey »

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