Across the world, the rate of urbanization is increasing at a rapid pace. As the areas in which the majority of people live and work, cities are increasingly acknowledged as the arena in which solutions to major societal and environmental challenges must be implemented. This rapid change has put many cities under significant strain. Local governments are struggling to meet the higher demand for services in fields such as energy, water, health, and transport prompted by the increase in population. The three year International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme’s objectives is to improve the capacity of cities in Europe and Japan to design, implement and manage sustainable urban practices in an integrated and participatory way. This is the first newsletter for the initiative.