“The city is arguably one of mankind’s greatest innovations. A focus for creativity and exchange, its identity is defined by its Places of Connection, Places of Arrival and Departure, Places of Collection, Exchange and Distribution”, Professor John Worthington

Most great European cities were founded before nation-states had seen the light. And I dare to say that the cities will outlive them. After all, their development was mainly the result of their economic activities; trade, production, knowledge, etc. And they are still going strong. The EU Urban Agenda addresses the common issues they face, but while finding solutions for them, these issues can turn into assets to help them compete on a global scale: the City of Utrecht putting the wellbeing of people central to all their policies – Urban Healthy Living; Greater Lyon engaging immigrants while exploring their talents, linking them to the city economy needs; the Gipuzkoa region in the Basque Country profiling themselves as ‘service providers’ for their citizens, making life easier!

Being secretary general of METREX for three years now and co-operating to set up six conferences hosted by our member-regions, I am amazed by their strength and capacity in finding solutions for their issues. Exchange of knowledge and experience is key for co-operation between European Regions and Cities, for finding innovative solutions to current and future challenges. We also need co-operation in formulating the conditions at an EU level, financially and regulatory. In that way our great European Regions will be able to further build the competitive, attractive and thriving urban societies with a great future ahead.

The title of the Helsinki Impact Conference is perfect, because in the end all our efforts should result in the impact that makes people’s life better!

Henk Bouwman
Secretary General of METREX
Henk Bouwman
Secretary General of METREX