The forum discussed how cities and regions can work together with central government and the diplomatic corps, to make the most of international relationships and opportunities. There was also a focus on tourism, education and economic opportunities from international partnerships.
Among those attending were ambassadors, high commissioners and embassy staff representing a number of countries – including Argentina, Chile, China, Cuba, Fiji, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste.
“International relations is no longer just the remit of capital cities or huge metropoles,” says Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith. “We’re increasingly seeing the rise of small cities and districts in this space, and the benefits that can come from local government support and enablement for greater international connectivity.”
PNCC International Relations Manager Toni Grace, who coordinated the event, said the forum ran expert-led panels to create interactive conversations. “We discussed practical ways we can all work together for greater impact, such as:
- improving digital channels
- preparing young people for a cross-cultural, global workforce
- fostering ‘globalisation’ – our ability to think global and act local
- knowledge exchange and working effectively with New Zealand-based partners such as embassies, high commissions and government agencies and organisations.”
The forum was coordinated to coincide with the city’s Festival of Cultures, with many of the visiting diplomats staying to join the Festival of Cultures World Food, Craft and Music Fair on Saturday. The annual week-long festival celebrates the contributions Palmerston North’s 130 diverse cultural communities make to our city.