A Sister City program enables citizens to become directly involved in international relations in a unique and meaningful way, bringing long-term benefits to the local community and its partners abroad.
Sister City relationships allow communities to exchange ideas, gain an international perspective and increase their understanding of global issues.
In addition to encouraging international peace and goodwill, many Sister City relationships go much further leading to economic growth, increased tourism, and reliable business contacts.
A comprehensive overview of the City of Perth’s Sister City program is contained in the 'Sister Cities Information Booklet' (see link on the right side of this page).
Benefits of Sister Cities
Our Sister City Program helps promote the City of Perth as a city of global significance, through exchanges and initiatives that focus on five key areas – education, culture, trade, tourism and sport.
The program enables us to foster international peace and goodwill, enriching our community with a broader understanding of other nations, their traditions, customs and cultures. Crucially though, it also provides a multi-lateral framework for cultivating economic growth across a host of trade, industry and business sectors.
The Economic and Business Benefits
As one of the most liveable cities in the world, located in the same time zone as our Asian neighbours, our active Sister City relationships have an important role to play in developing international economic partnerships.
Helping to establish reliable business contacts and thereby improve business opportunities, the program acts as a gateway to new markets and trade alliances. It acts as a springboard and catalyst for new investment and knowledge-sharing opportunities, while also promoting tourism, inbound education and providing a platform from which we can address global issues with our international partners.
The Social and Cultural benefits
Through cultural, educational and sporting exchanges, the program helps to break down intercultural barriers. It promotes diversity and encourages openness, tolerance and mutual understanding, all of which enrich our communities and those of our international partners.
In short, the Sister City Program provides a host of exciting opportunities with the potential to enhance and add value to our personal and professional lives, ultimately making our world a safer and richer place.
History of the Sister Cities Movement
Shortly after World War II, President Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people citizen diplomacy network in the United States of America. His goal was to involve individuals and organised groups at all levels of society in citizen diplomacy, with the hope that personal relationships, fostered through sister city agreements and county and state affiliations, would lessen the chance of future world conflicts.
The Sister Cities International Organisation was formed in the United States of America.
The Australian Sister Cities Association was formally established.
Sister Cities International now represents 700 U.S. communities and 1500 international communities in 121 countries worldwide.
The Sister Cities Australia register now lists 490 Australian cities that have sister city agreements throughout the world.
Perth's Sister Cities
The City of Perth has Sister City Agreements with the following cities:
- Kagoshima, Japan, established in 1974
- Houston, Texas, established in 1984
- Rhodes, Greece, established in 1984
- Megisti, Greece, established in 1984
- San Diego, California, established in 1987
- Vasto, Italy, established in 1989
- Nanjing, China, established in 1998
- Taipei, Taiwan, established in 1999
- Chengdu, China, established in 2010
The City of Perth has a Charter of Mutual Friendship with the following cities. Charters of Mutual Friendship are less formal agreements than Sister City agreements.
Sister State Partnerships
The Western Australian State Government, through the Department of State Development, coordinates a Sister State relationships program. This is a different program to the Sister City relationships program facilitated by Local Government.
The Western Australian State Government’s Sister State relationships are as follows:
Western Australia and Hyogo Prefecture in Japan, established in 1981
Western Australia and Zhejiang Province in China, established in 1987
Western Australia and the Province of East Java, established in 1990
Western Australia and the Tuscany Region of Italy, established in 1999
For more information, refer to the Department of State Development.
The City of Perth’s involvement in the international sister cities movement is conducted within the context of the City of Perth 2029 Vision Document, which states:
The City will take a leadership role as the capital city of Western Australia and be proactive in the global recognition of the City of Perth.
The program is guided by the Sister City Relationships Policy (Policy 11.3) that provides the following objectives and policy statement:
1. To foster international peace and goodwill.
2. To seek a wider understanding of other nations, their traditions, customs and cultures.
3. To promote Perth and, where appropriate, assist in fostering economic development, tourism and trade relations.
The Council considers that these objectives can be achieved by: -
1. Educational, cultural, trade, tourism and sporting exchanges;
2. Official visits.
The Council maintains a small number of active Sister City relationships, based upon benefits which can accrue in the five key areas of trade, tourism, culture, education and sport.
Program Structure, Funding and Administration
The City of Perth Marketing, Sponsorship and International Relations Committee is responsible for the Sister City Relationships program. The Committee comprises three Elected Members and meets every three weeks. Committee meetings are open to the public.
The Sister City Relationships program is serviced by the International Engagement Unit, based in the City of Perth Economic Development and Activation Directorate.
Selection Criteria for Establishing a Sister City Agreement or Charter of Mutual Friendship
The Council is not actively seeking to establish additional Sister City relationships, however, requests are occasionally received.
The City of Perth Marketing, Sponsorship and International Relations Committee assesses requests to establish Sister City alliances. The assessment criteria used to assess the suitability of a sister city or "twinning" arrangement, and the assessment process, can be quite comprehensive, although it does appear that many Sister City agreements that came about in the early days, both in Australia and internationally, were based on people-to-people exchange more so than strategic issues.
The Sister Cities International organisation produces guidelines for assessing the merits of developing sister city relationships, and its Australian counterpart, Sister Cities Australia also provides guidelines.
At the City of Perth we consider these guidelines and assess the request in the context of the City of Perth Strategic Plan and Sister Cities Relationship Policy. The matter is submitted to the City's Marketing, Sponsorship and International Relations Committee to consider. The Committee’s recommendation is then referred to the Council for final approval or refusal.
The City of Perth is occasionally approached to consider "twinning" proposals.
A composite of factors needs to be considered depending on what the objectives of the arrangement are to be, that is, economic development, cultural exchange or humanitarian assistance.
The following are factors to consider when choosing or reviewing a Sister City or Charter or Mutual Friendship arrangement.
- Population and demographics (nationals of one Sister City residing in the other)
- Geographic location and assets (eg Port, Frontier)
- Ease of access
- Comparison of key industries
- Existing linkages (eg student exchanges)
- Relevance to local community
- History of diplomatic relations and/or cooperation in political, economic, commercial and cultural fields
- Similar economic conditions
- Trade and investment climates and opportunities
- Tourism potential
- Similar social infrastructure and issues
- Opportunity for broad based activity
- People to people interest, energy and commitment
- Across economic, social and environmental issues
- Student / teacher exchange programs
- University linkages
In considering the above factors, it is necessary to compare not only the similarities, but also the potential for these similarities to provide mutual benefit to the Cities involved.
Existing relationships are also assessed against:
- Level of communication with the Sister City
- History, outcomes to date, benefits seen
- Current and proposed projects
Sister Cities Australia
San Diego, California
Perth & Kinross Council
Seocho City, Korea
International Engagement Unit