Five Step Implementation Process for Establishing & Developing Sister Cities Commissions, Programs and Committees


Today’s connected world influences even smaller cities to compete in the global economy through pursuit of international commerce and trade. Global connections are beneficial for economic growth, cultural development, and group and individual opportunity. An active sister cities program can offer many of these valuable benefits to a city, its people, business community, local schools, cultural groups, and athletic and religious organizations.

Sister cities commissions are usually operated as an extension of the Mayor’s Office and often assisted by a Coordinator / Director for International Affairs. The creation of a sister city program and committee begins with an official blessing by the City Council who issues a proclamation in support of a partnership also known as a “twinning”. The people who traditionally make a sister city program successful are volunteers who are drawn to:

  • People-to-people relationships that reach across cultures
  • Direct involvement in meaningful and enriching projects / activities

Five Step Development Plan

  1. Establish a Sister Cities Commission for the purpose of economic and cultural development and international branding.
  2. Become affiliated with Sister Cities International (SCI) through the formation of a volunteer commission that includes a cross section of the city’s population make up and leadership groups. It is recommended that the proposed commission be set up as a model public – private partnership that is a product of the City, Chamber of Commerce, and the business community, and local community organizations and groups. (
  1. Develop people-to-people friendships and linkages through creation of a sister cities program, committee(s) engaging in a range of joint programs / projects. The Atlanta Sister City Commission (ASCC) includes 18 established sister cities committees that organize and facilitate a range of exciting projects and activities. The ASCC serves as an award-winning model for new programs / committees to consider employing. See also ASCC Annual Reports 2001-2012 as resource for researching possible activities.
  1. Partnership or twinning process is based on forming people-to-people partnerships that are expedited through mutual hosting of official delegations to
    sign proclamations in respective cities. It is suggested that:

    1. Two twinning missions also serve as business missions to foster trade and friendship between the respective sister cities,
    2. One twinning a year (suggested) take place with the aim of building strong and geographically diverse programs,
    3. New Commission and citizen groups target potential sister cities that are in their interest to develop joint programs and engage in joint projects with,
    4. Sister cities programs are conduits for spurring economic development and steps towards international branding.
  1. Recommended Process for Implementation: Cities that wish to professionalize their program may pay staff to effectively administer it. Volunteers assume a great deal of work and quite often incur significant out of pocket expenses. New commissions are encouraged to:
    • Apply SCI’s mission, theme, organization building information / resources
    • Formulate bylaws, a strategic plan, and recruit sponsors
    • Submit an annual report to the City Council that showcases committee’s activities and projects that they were involved in during past year.