Already at the end of the 1970s, the contact between the Free City of Bremen and the South African city of Durban developed. During this time, Bremen was actively supporting the freedom movements in South Africa, in form of financial support and educational projects. The friendly relationship between the two coastal cities became stronger over time, mainly due to the high level of civil society involvement, so that a partnership association was founded in 1998. The idea of establishing a common development partnership for climate and resource protection was implemented - in 2011, the city partnership was officially signed.
In the same year, the partner cities took part in an SKEW programme and implemented a series of successful projects. These include sustainable urban development projects, youth projects for environmental education and the renaturation of a 41-hectare wetland along a river course. The partnership focuses on climate protection and marine environmental education, combined with urban poverty reduction. Since Bremen has also established a climate partnership with the city of Windhoek and promotes contact between the two African cities, a kind of triangular cooperation has developed over time.
The shared characteristics of the port and coastal towns mean that they benefit greatly from each other's expertise. In this context, climate change is an important issue for both cities. In Southern Africa, Durban is a pioneer in projects and concepts for the adaptation to climate change. Through this exchange, Durban was able to support Bremen in its first climate adaptation strategy with valuable experience. Invers Bremen supports Durban with its expertise on decentralized sanitation systems and provides funding for related test facilities.
The partner cities promote the exchange of civil society in sport and culture and, strive for more inclusion. Special attention is paid to young people. Some are attending an Ocean Champs training course in marine ecology. In addition, a youth climate council was founded in accordance with the Bremerhaven model. In addition, sustainable tourism projects are implemented to counteract the high rate of unemployment among underprivileged groups of the population.
The jury honours the partnership between Bremen and Durban with a nomination among the Top 3 in the category "Municipal Partnerships 2020" of the German Sustainability Award.