Excellent prospect of strengthening bilateral cooperation with the People’s Republic of China
In October, the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region (RRA LUR), in collaboration with the European Commission, hosted a delegation of high representatives from the People’s Republic of China in Ljubljana. The visit took place within the framework of the IURC China program (International Urban and Regional Cooperation China), which focuses on establishing bilateral collaborations between European regions and China for the exchange of knowledge and best practices in sustainable urban development and innovations.
On Thursday, October 26, 2023, twenty high-level foreign guests from China and representatives from the city, regional and national level and the academy gathered at the Ljubljana City Hall. After a warm welcome by Dejan Crnek, Deputy Mayor of Ljubljana, another one was given by Yuanmeng Cao, Deputy Director-General of the Department for Regional Economy at the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China. Lilijana Madjar, Director of RRA LUR, introduced the structure and activities of the agency as a key player in regional development. She highlighted the goals of the meeting, emphasized a spectre of potential benefits, and encouraged the participants to actively seek opportunities for collaboration and enthusiastically engage in their realization.
Representatives of Chinese cities Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Liuzhou, Taicang, and Zhengzhou, vividly presented the developmental achievements of their cities and identified areas for potential collaboration with the Ljubljana Urban Region. In the search for synergies, a series of presentations by experts took place to acquaint the members of the delegation with the challenges and opportunities in the field of sustainable mobility and spatial planning in the region; further on, they learned about measures, best practices, and advanced strategies of the city of Ljubljana in areas such as digitalization, circular economy, green infrastructure as well as the national strategy for smart specialization. Dr. Metka Tekavčič from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana emphasized the benefits of past academic collaborations. As a lecturer, she regularly visits China and collaborates closely with the Confucius Institute, which serves as an important hub connecting Slovenia with China. She expressed a fondness of a greater collaboration, not only at the university level but also in incorporating academic knowledge into delivering effective solutions for development initiatives in the economy and public sector.
The visit continued with a visit of the “Jožef Stefan” Institute, where members of the Chinese delegation attentively listened to leading experts about the institute’s operation, the quality of the local research environment, and the institute’s involvement in the international milieu, as well as its numerous impressive achievements. They also got familiar with some of the latest prototypes, representing interesting opportunities for collaboration and investment, such as scaling of a convenient water sterilizer for mass production. In addition, the institute experts provided their vision and structure of the “Factories of the future”.
The next day of the visit focused on establishing connections in the economy and in the field of cultural and creative industries. After visiting the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia as a focal point for connecting various Slovenian companies, the delegation visited the technologically advanced company EKWB in Komenda near Ljubljana, which develops innovative systems for water cooling of processors with one of the offices in China. To conclude the visit, the delegation payed a visit to the Rog Center and the Cukrarna Palace. During a brief session following the guided tours, ideas were sparked about possible artist residencies and various exchanges in the field of cultural and creative industries. The newly planned area of Liangjiang in the established creative city (Chongqing Design City) was also presented.
The meeting clearly demonstrated that cities and regions worldwide face similar challenges in the field of sustainable urban development, albeit at different levels and in different social, cultural, and economic conditions. As all participants agreed, this can represent a fertile ground for mutual enrichment of knowledge and improvement of practices.
The meeting will be followed by the formulation of memoranda to consolidate potential collaborations.