Spotlight: Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle, Washington
What are your city’s sister cities?
Seattle has relationships with 21 sister cities. Our sister cities are: Be’er Sheva, Israel; Bergen, Norway; Cebu, Philippines; Chongqing, China; Christchurch, New Zealand; Daejeon, Korea; Galway, Ireland; Gdynia, Poland; Haiphong, Vietnam; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Kobe, Japan; Limbe, Cameroon; Mazatlán, Mexico; Mombasa, Kenya; Nantes, France; Pécs, Hungary; Perugia, Italy; Reykjavik, Iceland; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Surabaya, Indonesia; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
How has your community benefited from your sister city program?
Through the strong relationships with our many Sister Cities, we increase global awareness for the people of Seattle. Arts and culture festivals, youth exchanges, and other events deepen our community’s connection to the diverse populations living in our city and our connections around the world.
Through trade, cultural exchange, humanitarian efforts, and a diverse immigrant community, Seattle’s international engagement has direct impacts on improving education, jobs, the environment, tourism, and health. Seattle’s politics and economics also has influence far beyond its borders, with potential to affect the lives of thousands of people around the world. Our community benefits as Seattle acts a leader on several important issues, including climate change, global health, and LGBT issues globally.
What would you like to see your sister city program do in the future?
We seek to strengthen Seattle’s Sister City program as an important tool in raising Seattle’s international profile. Sister Cities’ 60-year legacy has developed a powerful brand more recognized by Seattleites than any other foreign affairs program. We are actively working to strengthen the strategic impact of the program through establishing an International Affairs Advisory Board and seeking an executive director to lead the Seattle Sister Cities Association.
We want to use our sister cities program to engage with our large ethnic communities to welcome the tens of thousands of annual newcomers to the city and connect to global-minded future leaders from local high schools and colleges. Seattle would also like to establish annual themes to our sister city programs, including Climate Action in 2016 and Economic Development in 2017. These initiatives will deepen our relationships and increase our visibility in order to strengthen our long-standing program and maximize its potential to connect Seattle to the world.
What are you most excited about for Sister Cities International’s 60th Anniversary in Washington, DC?
We look forward to learning from other cities and getting ideas to bring back to Seattle’s sister city program. The conference will also provide a great opportunity to expand networks and connect with leaders of sister cities programs and municipal diplomacy. The 60th anniversary provides a great opportunity to connect with others, celebrate what sister cities programs have accomplished, and look forward to the future of sister city relationships.