City of Utrecht International relations

With its growing internationally orientated population, businesses, students and organizations Utrecht is a pro-active player in the international community. Utrecht has been declared Europeans Most Competitive Region (pdf, 1,5Mb) by the European Commission and is leading many international rankings nowadays such as the top ten World’s best cycling cities (CNN 2015) or the Guardians 'Where to go' 2015 ranking.


Utrecht’s Kanaleneiland area becomes a sustainable district

02-03-2018 | Utrecht’s Kanaleneiland-Zuid district is taking on a new sustainable future, aided by a € 5.3 million from the European Commission. The project will integrate investments in, among others, energy saving, sustainable energy generation and electric mobility. Smart data services will support this integration. The EC has made a total of 18 million euros available for the  European IRIS Smart Cites project, which Utrecht is executing as a lead partner, together with the Swedish city of Gothenburg and the French city of Nice among others.

An ecosystem of several actors are collaborating closely to deliver the urban transformation. Within the next five years housing corporation Bo-Ex will renovate twelve flats with a total of 644 social housing units  into almost energy-neutral homes. There will also be smart meters for generated electricity to be used directly in the home. In addition, there will be electric shared cars, electric buses and batteries stored in local garage lockups. These store renewable energy that is generated  by solar panels on roofs of, for example, flats and schools in the district. An ICT platform with open data will provide data exchange to platform to support the project and encourage innovative services to be developed. The plan for the first of the twelve flats  in Kanaleneiland will be further developed together with residents this spring.

Competition was fierce for the funding, with applications from across Europe. A strong vision for Utrecht’s urban development, the familiarity of LomboXnet and strong expected impacts for the environment, economy and communities was key to the city being chosen. The municipality is working together with Bo-Ex and residents in this project. In addition, partners such as LomboXnet, Civity, Qbuzz, Eneco, KPN, Stedin, Utrecht University and HKU are involved. The experiences and knowledge gathered throughout the project will be shared with other cities in the project, including Gothenburg and Nice.
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International attractiveness

The municipality is aiming to create an international attractive climate for our citizens, businesses, entrepreneurs, expats, students and visitors.  With the Economic Board Utrecht  (EBU) we stimulate innovation and cooperation between companies, knowledge-based institutions and governmental organizations with the main goal to create a green, healthy and smart region. On these themes de EBU sets up collaborations that lead to innovation, job creation and economic growth.

Some examples

  • The Utrecht Region provides information for Internationals about working, studying and living in the Utrecht region.
  • The Expat Center in the New City Hall and the International School Utrecht are important facilities to attract international talent.
  • The Utrecht Toolkit provides English information about for all stakeholders interested in Utrecht
  • Film Commission Utrecht promotes Utrecht as a smart location for filming, providing service and advice, a wide range of locations and atmospheres, physical space and an unparalleled range of suppliers. Filming in Utrecht supports local economy and the strengthening of Utrecht Film City and its talents.
  • Utrecht is a Multilingual Hotspot (pdf, 502kB) and offers a high educated workforce.

European Strategy

We defined a European strategy (pdf, 278 kB) in which we focus on our ambitions to promote the city of Utrecht as an interesting city to live, work, study, invest or visit. We attract European funding to invest in urban healthy living and facilitate exchange of knowledge with European cities.

Some examples

  • As an active member of the EUROCITIES network, Utrecht is working with 140 cities and institutions of the European Union to ensure that European policies and legislation meet the needs of our citizens. As chair of the EUROCITIES Environment Forum Utrecht focuses on shaping European policies on air quality, renewable energy, energy efficiency, noise, waste, green areas and urban biodiversity.
  • Through focused networking and cooperation Utrecht profiles itself as an interesting  and innovative European city and a potential project partner.  In the framework of its dynamic Connected Cities Network Utrecht wants to connect itself with a selection of European cities, focusing on its current themes and ambitions.
  • Utrecht participates in several EU cooperation projects. Utrecht is partner in the ‘Kansen voor West’ Operational Program (ERDF, 2014-2020) which focuses on innovation and low carbon economy.  As an Intermediate Body, Utrecht also implements an Integrated Territorial Investment strategy (ITI) that is funded by ERDF/ESF.

Utrecht Connected Worldwide

Our citizens, universities, students, organisations and businesses are increasingly internationally oriented. And a growing number of international students, visitors, businesses and investors are interested in Utrecht. Within the framework of Utrecht Connected Worldwide, Utrecht aims to facilitate the process of internationalisation of our stakeholders in Utrecht and outside Europe. Cultural as well as economic exchanges are the focal point.

Some examples

  • Exchanges between brewers and manufacturing industry from Utrecht and Portland within the framework of the friendly relationship between Utrecht and Portland (United States)The China Cafés Utrecht focused on doing business with China and the cooperation between Utrecht and Beijing about Smart Sustainable city development in the station area
  • Initiatives from the Indian community in Utrecht to place a Ghandi Statue and stimulate business exchanges

Sustainable Development Goals

In recent years, together with local partners the City of Utrecht has successfully worked towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Utrecht wants to continue this spirit and expand the ambitions further on the pathway to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals. In its effort to contribute to this the city will focus on goal 11; sustainable cities and communities. Nonetheless, any local initiative that contributes to achieving the other goals will be encouraged to do so. The pro-active collaboration between the city and its local partners is the starting point. This means that the city will work on the Global Goals on the basis of its local DNA; green, healthy, smart.

To reach the Global Goals in 2030, Utrecht will work alongside two trajectories. On the one hand, the city will take the initiative of setting up a Utrecht Global Goals coalition, in which it invites local businesses and organisations to connect with Global Goals initiatives elsewhere in the world. At the same time, the city aims to stimulate the exchange, collaboration and joining of forces of existing, small-scale initiatives in Utrecht together with the local Utrecht4GlobalGoals team. Eventually, the goal is that every citizen, business and organisation in Utrecht is familiar with the Global Goals.


Human Rights City

Their international knowledge, experience and contacts greatly enrich society in Utrecht. The city authority supports activities and exchanges that help foster respect for human dignity. Working in partnership with various organizations, the city is striving to strengthen human rights (pdf, 1.5 MB) at the local level.