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Two innovative cities of the Low Countries strengthen their bonds in Leuven

18 September 2019

Last week, representants of both the university and the Dutch city of Leiden visited Leuven. The mayor of Leiden and the rector of the university of Leiden met with their Belgian colleagues to strengthen the bonds between these two innovative cities.


Mayor Mohamed Ridouani (Leuven), mayor Henri Lenferink (Leiden) and rector Carel Stolker (Leiden University) chatter at the Sluispark

Leuven and Leiden are comparable in terms of population and students and face the same urban challenges. In addition to a growing university, a beautiful historic center and a rich cultural life, both cities also have an increasing demand for housing and challenges concerning historical heritage and urban regional mobility.

“Leuven is a bit like Leiden. And Leiden is a bit like Leuven. You feel that both cities have a lot in common" say the mayors of the two cities, Mohamed Ridouani (Leuven) and Henri Lenferink (Leiden). "Our relationships are also excellent on a personal level, which motivates us to strengthen our professional relationships as well", they added.

Examples include joint research projects or the strengthening of student exchanges between KU Leuven and Leiden University, both members of the Coimbra group (a European association of universities that together strive for internationalization, academic cooperation, and excellence in education, research and social services).

Program working visit

Statements were interspersed with visits to the city center, the Sluispark, Park Belle Vue and the bicycle tunnel under the Tiensesteenweg.

“The fact that we can help each other to achieve our goals by working together became clear again during this working visit. Our car-free city center and broad climate approach are one of the most appealing projects," says Ridouani.

The cooperation between Leuven and Leiden has already started in recent years and in 2018 the city of Leuven, the municipality of Leiden and both universities signed the "Declaration of Poitiers". In this declaration, cities and universities agree, among other things, to make a stronger contribution to their local environment and to organize more knowledge and culture-oriented events for a wide audience.


Text and pictures: Stad Leuven

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