In recent decades, federated states and regions have been increasingly challenged by a growing number of international issues. In this context, the Regional Leaders Summit (RLS), a grouping composed of seven regional governments, spread over five continents, was born out of a desire to establish a privileged network encouraging sharing in several key areas.

For nearly two decades now, the heads of government of Bavaria (Germany), Western Cape (South Africa), Georgia (United States), Upper Austria (Austria), São Paulo (Brazil), Shandong (China) and Quebec (Canada) have met every two years. These meetings, which take place in turn in one of the regions, give them the opportunity to discuss common issues, share their analyses and policies, with the aim of defining ways of multilateral partnership for the benefit of their respective citizens. With this in mind, each Conference is the subject of a Final Declaration that sets out its findings and sets out the various actions and ambitions that the signatory governments should seek to achieve.

The RLS has so far been held on nine occasions in plenary conferences.

The evolution of the Regional Leaders Summit

The creation of the RLS comes from a series of meetings held between the Bavarian Minister-President with the Premier of Quebec, the Premier of the Western Cape and the Governor of Shandong Province in 1999 on the theme “Your partner is my partner”. Then, with the subsequent accession of three other members – Georgia, Upper Austria and São Paulo – the Heads of Government first got to know each region better and thus understand the common challenges and themes that unite them.

Exchanges of information and expertise between regions were first established, particularly between government agencies. Initially, they were exchanges on sustainable development, youth and innovation. Later on, other areas were added, such as education and transport.

These direct and privileged relations between members have helped to ensure that economic delegations from the regions join the Summits, thus making it possible to intensify trade relations.

Another milestone for the RLS has also been the launch of a scientific network on renewable energies ushers in a new era by definitively anchoring multilateral cooperation between member regions in the long term. Following this effervescent scientific cooperation, three new research and development themes were added to the existing Energy Network, which have been carefully chosen to reflect the best potential for scientific cooperation between the seven regions. These themes are: digital, aerospace and mini-satellites. With leading researchers in their fields, multilateral collaborative projects have been developed and are now being implemented. At each edition of the Regional Leaders Summit, we welcome experts and scientific coordinators from these projects.

Finally, these multilateral meetings have also made it possible to intensify bilateral relations between the regions.