Atlanta’s emergence as an international city is being further enhanced by its Sister Cities program, which will be extended on Tuesday, Feb. 8, to include Fukuoka, Japan, as well as its partnership with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, according to Claire McLeveighn. Ms. McLeveighn is the director for external affairs and international relations in the mayor’s office.

“I think that Atlanta’s global stature is increasing and we have to make the most of the opportunities that are here in order to continue to grow in this direction,” she told GlobalAtlanta in an interview at City Hall.

The city is actively pursuing new Sister City ties in China and South America, she said, specifically referring to Cordoba, Argentina. “Of course, we are very interested in Argentina as a very major force in Latin America,” she said.

Ms. McLeveign also said that the city’s efforts to find a Sister City relationship in China are largely guided by the companies located in metro Atlanta that have activities and investments in China.

Because of limited opportunities for U.S. cities to partner with Chinese cities, she said that “…if we are in a place that is strategically located for all these Atlanta companies that are in China then the maintenance of the relationship is shared and it benefits all of us.”

Ms. McLeveign also pointed to the CIFAL Atlanta center, which is affiliated with the Geneva-based United Nations Institute of Training and Research, as a major impetus for increasing the city’s international stature. CIFAL Atlanta is located in the Busbee Center for Global Economic Development and Innovation at Technology Square in Midtown.

“What better way to propel our globalization as a city than to share our best practices and to learn from other municipalities,” she said.

Ms. McLeveighn and Mayor Shirley Franklin visited Washington in January to meet with World Bank officials and discuss opportunities for collaboration.

“When it comes to water, solid waste and public safety, police, fire – the things that make peoples lives safe and livable – that is usually in the realm of the municipality. And cities all over the world face the same issues.”

Go to to read the full version of the interview.