The City of Pittsburgh announced it’s most recent Sister Cities partnership with Glasgow, Scotland during a virtual signing ceremony on Nov. 12.
For the past few years Pittsburgh has been engaged with the Sister Cities Association, forging active partnerships with cities in countries like Japan, Spain, China, and Vietnam. But what makes Glasgow stand out are its similarities as a post-industrial riverfront community, and its work addressing environmental and social justice issues.
“When we look at Glasgow it’s almost like looking at ourselves in the mirror,” said Kathy Risko, Executive Director of the Sister Cities Association of Pittsburgh.
Risko is spearheading the relationship despite the COVID-19 pandemic. She says they are in the process of creating working groups that address specific issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and immigration, both of which are areas Glasgow City Council has addressed by passing their own Black Lives Matter resolution policies. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has begun to work with the Pittsburgh Police Reform Task Force.
Pittsburgh began talks with Glasgow as the cities saw similarities in health inequities between neighborhoods, an issue that's only been amplified by the pandemic. Both Pittsburgh and Glasgow faced economic hardship throughout the 1970s and 80s, losing major industrial assets along the riverfronts.
“What is arguably more remarkable is the way our cities have fought back from these challenges over recent decades; with both drawing on their resilience to address the economic, social and physical legacies of our industrial past,” Glasgow City Council Leader Susan Aitken said in a release.
“We have already learned a lot from each other; but this partnership will draw Glasgow and Pittsburgh closer together than ever before – and provides an opportunity for us to show real leadership on the climate emergency and building back from the Covid-19 pandemic in a way that prioritises economic, social and environmental justice for all our people.”
Risko says the Sister Cities Association has a rubric they’ll use to determine how to forge future relationships with other cities including economic, cultural, and social policies.
“We have historic background, Andrew Carnegie was Scottish, but if you look at our economy and our commitment to climate change and sustainability, that also looks similar,” Risko said. “Now more than ever these international relationships are so important for regions to deal with and tackle issues like climate change, this isn’t just an issue for Pittsburgh this is an issue for cities across the world.”
A second in-person signing to celebrate the partnership is expected to take a place at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November 2021 in Glasgow.