Our members work tirelessly to promote peace and understanding through exchanges and initiatives that focus on arts and culture, youth and education, business and trade, and community development.

Sister city relationships offer the flexibility to form connections between communities that are mutually beneficial and which address issues that are most relevant for partners.

Learn more about each category below and see how our members are advancing citizen diplomacy through exchange.

2017 Heinerfest - Darmstadt and San Antonio


Arts and cultural programs are some of the oldest and most robust in the sister cities network. These exchanges take many different forms such as musical performances, art exhibits, peace parks and gardens, and international cultural festivals. By experiencing and exploring the culture of an international community, citizens may gain insight into the history, values, and aesthetic sensibilities of their partners.


Providing experience in international affairs and citizen diplomacy to youth is a critical part of any sister city program. Activities often include student exchanges, virtual exchanges, and sports tournaments. These exchanges are often described by participants as “a life-changing experience,” and many current leaders in international affairs or diplomacy can trace their interest to their first sister city exchange.



In addition to trade delegations and tourism dollars, sister city programs create connections with international municipal officials, institutions, and businesses. These connections build trust, access, and expertise that help local businesses find new opportunities and resources. Whether it is access to new markets, assistance navigating import and export regulations, or introductions to new partners, sister city programs expand the resources available to local businesses.


Peer-learning between municipal employees and elected officials through sister city activities has helped cities implement innovative policies and management techniques in sanitation, water, health, transportation, tourism, economic development, and education. Programs also raise funds or collect supplies for natural disasters or other emergencies in their sister cities. Numerous programs also support schools abroad through donation of materials, construction, and partnerships with United States schools

Houston-Karachi Water Pump