The Pittsburgh region has been making international cities our sisters for over 60 years.
In an increasingly economically integrated world, local leaders have recognized that regional economic development strategies must create environments in which firms and industries can compete internationally to generate sustained growth and quality jobs. To succeed in this goal, our region engages with international partner cities in mutually beneficial economic, cultural, and educational transactions. The mutual need to work cooperatively with each other to benefit our citizens is underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic and provides an opportunity for the Sister Cities Association of Pittsburgh to create opportunities for our region to be a global city.
The Pittsburgh region has been making international cities our sisters for over 60 years. Our first sister city agreement was signed in 1956 with Saarbrucken, Germany. In the following years, the Pittsburgh region has partnered with twenty sister cities.
2020 - Glasgow, Scotland
2008 - Da Nang, Vietnam
2006 - Karmiel & Misgav, Israel
2002 - Presov, Slovakia
2001 - Ostrava, Czech Republic
2000 - Skopje, Macedonia
1999 - Fernando de al Mora, Paraguay
1997 - Saitama City, Japan
1993 - Sofia, Bulgaria
1993 - Matanzas, Cuba
1987 - San Isidro, Nicaragua
1982 - Wuhan, China
1980 - Sheffield, England
1979 - Zagreb, Croatia
1970 - Bilbao, Spain
1956 - Saarbrucken, Germany
Unknown date of agreement signing: Naucalpan, Mexico, and Gaziantep, Turkey.
Sister Cities International is a program that was initially implemented by the Eisenhower Administration in 1956. President Eisenhower was a strong proponent of the program, given his experiences in World War II. At that time, the major goal of the program was to build goodwill between the citizens of major U.S. cities and those of their selected international “sister” cities. The idea was to promote understanding between countries on a “grassroots” basis, hoping to encourage peace rather than adversarial relationships.
After more than 60 years, the Sister Cities program is thriving in many U.S. cities across the country. Each U.S. city that participates has its own slightly different structure, priorities as to goals and objectives, funding sources, etc. An umbrella organization – Sister Cities International in Washington, D.C.-- assists with “best practices” type of support, but each city’s program is autonomous, with its own board, its own priorities, its own Sister City selection process, and its own responsibility for raising financial support.
As with all well-run organizations, Sister Cities has expanded its focus over the years. Today, most U.S. cities have Sister Cities programs that are very active in organizing both adult and student international travel and education programs and significant cultural exchanges. In addition and importantly for Pittsburgh, most Sister Cities programs in the U.S. serve as an adjunct to the economic development efforts of other organizations. The connection between building relationships and creating business opportunities is now viewed as very strong and the correlation between intelligent, relevant exchanges with sister cities and economic development is apparent. While most U.S. cities do not view Sister Cities as an exclusive economic development initiative, its ability to develop key relationships has proven to be of significant benefit to business opportunity creation.
Sister Cities Association of Pittsburgh is a member of Sister Cities International.