Strasbourg, 23 April 2012
Michèle Sabban, President of the Assembly of European Regions, attended an official visit in Washington last week, accompanied by the Executive Director of R20 and a delegation of Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the regions of Açores (P), Corse (F), Istanbul (TR), Languedoc-Roussillon (F) and Wallonie (B). Within the framework of cooperation between the AER and the R20 (Regions of Climate Action) – of which Ms. Sabban has recently been elected as the new President of the Board - the delegation met with senior representatives of the U.S. State Department, in particular with Reta Jo Lewis, Special Representative of Hillary Clinton for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, and Kathleen Doherty, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Asian Affairs. These meetings were part of the ‘Smart Partnership Dialogue’ developed by the State Department, which aims to forge relationships with local and regional authorities throughout the world, along the lines of the formal agreements already signed with the Chinese and Brazilian governments regarding their states and provinces.
The focus of these meetings was to initiate cooperation between European regions and the U.S. Federated States in the field of green growth and sustainable development. “This visit is of strategic importance for European regions. It has given us the opportunity to highlight the critical role regions have in these areas, to build relationships in view of Rio+20, and to lay the foundations for a longer-term partnership in sustainable development." concluded Ms. Sabban. "We will introduce another form of diplomacy between the two sides of the Atlantic, a ‘smart partnership’ between European regions and U.S. states, which in addition thanks to R20 will also build ties among African, Asian and Latin American regions." AER is from now on the privileged European counterpart of the U.S. State Department on issues of sustainable development at subnational level.
The AER and R20 Delegation also met with several fellow associations, representing states and cities in the United States (Council of State Governments, National League of Cities), as well as with officials in charge of developing the U.S. position at the next Earth Summit, Rio+20. NGOs active in the field of sustainable development were also present, and showed their support for the projects carried out by R20 and AER with regard to the evaluation of regional policies to fight against climate change.
Green growth is at the heart of the diplomatic relations between the EU and the U.S. The EU delegation in Washington also supported this approach and will accompany AER and R20 during the next stages of this new dynamic dialogue.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 250 regions from 35 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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