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Global City

Global City

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Published by: blue_july2000 on Jan 15, 2009
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06/18/2014

 
Global cities and Networks of Global Environmental Governance
 Sofie BouteligierResearch Group on Global Environmental GovernanceUniversity of LeuvenPaper presented at the 49th annual Convention of the International Studies Association, March2008 San Francisco, USA
 Abstract  In the last decades an extensive literature on the key role played by major cities in economic, political and cultural globalization has emerged. Cities are conceptualized as strategic places inglobal networks, as sites from which important actors (state, civil society and market) operateand where vital knowledge, infrastructure and services are concentrated. The significance of cities for tackling global environmental challenges urges us to investigate organizational formsthrough which cities can matter in global environmental politics. Departing from Castells’macrosociological theory on the Network Society this paper explores the functioning of six citynetworks of global environmental governance. Within and between these networks norms and  practices are spread in various ways. Furthermore, the paper formulates some questions and dilemmas on how to evaluate and value these networks.
Introduction
In 2008, for the first time, more than half of the world’s population will live in urban areas(United Nations 2008: 1). As a consequence, increasing attention is paid to cities and their role inthe tackling of global challenges (UN-HABITAT 2006; Worldwatch Institute 2007). It is clear,that these places do not only represent sources of problems (Newman 2006; Bai 2007), but alsooffer opportunities to find solutions that can be of global importance (Satterthwaite 1997; UN-HABITAT 2006; UNFPA 2007).A growing literature is currently focusing on the key role played by major cities in processes of economic, political and cultural globalization. These scholars do not approach cities as closedentities – i.e. they do not investigate specific problems of particular cities within territorial or jurisdictional boundaries, but analyze cities in their relationship to globalization processes. Citiesare conceptualized as strategic places in global networks, as sites from which important actors
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(state, civil society and market) operate and where vital knowledge, infrastructure and servicesare concentrated. Therefore, these cities are conceptualized as world cities or global cities (e.g.Friedmann and Wolff 1982 ; Sassen 2001; Castells 2002; Taylor 2004).Departing from the attention that is now paid to cities’ position in global politics, I am conductingresearch on whether and to what extend cities can and do play a significant role in globalenvironmental governance. In particular, I focus on one organizational form through which citiescan matter: city networks.The paper is structured as follows: first, the position of cities and city networks in globalgovernance will be introduced. Second, I will clarify the theoretical and conceptual framework that is at the core of my research. A third part will explain the functioning of the selected citynetworks. Finally, I will formulate some future dilemmas linked to this research.
Cities, city networks and global governance
In the last decades, a multi-level and multi-actor governance architecture has developed. Otherthan the state, the private sector and civil society – in their diverse representations – are nowinvolved in governance in order to deal appropriately with increasingly complex and oftentransboundary problems (Held 2004: 73-88; Scholte 2005:185-223). The sharing of responsibilities with other actors does not make the state less important or influential, but ratherpoints to a transformation of its role (Held 2004: 73-88; Scholte 2005: 185-223). According toManuel Castells, states have become one node in a network of power (Castells 2000: 355-366).Governance networks directed at the development of global public policy or the setting of norms,codes and the establishment of standards now incorporate international governmentalorganizations (IGOs), states, regional and local governments, local and global NGOs, financialinstitutions, private companies, …. The relative importance and roles of these various actors andlevels can differ and alter (Biermann 2006).Cities are also playing a progressively more important role in the international arena (Borja andCastells 1997: 203-233). With Agenda 21, the United Nations explicitly attached importance tolocal governments and actors and in 2004 United Cities and Local Governments
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was recognized
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On May 5 2004 a new unified world organization was created in Paris. The International Union of LocalAuthorities (°1913) and the World Federation of United Towns and Cities (°1957) were consolidated intothe World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). The World Association of Major Metropolises (Metropolis) acts as the metropolitan section of UCLG.
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as “an advisory body on governance matters” (United Nations 2004: 51-52). Not only hasconsultation and collaboration between international organizations and cities evolved, but so hascooperation between cities themselves through the creation of inter-city networks. Increasedurbanization creates challenges, which may vary between different cities, but also showsimilarities and demand cooperation and joint action on a global scale. Various networks havebeen and are being developed at all levels: nationally (e.g. National League of Cities in the U.S.),regionally (e.g. Asian Network of Major Cities 21) and globally (e.g. United Cities and LocalGovernments). And these networks have a variety of objectives and goals: tackling social issues(e.g. Cities Alliance-Cities without Slums), creating an information society free of digital divide(e.g. Global Cities Dialogue), promoting peace, mutual respect and understanding (e.g. SisterCities International-Global citizen diplomacy network), etc. The main objective of these networksis to deal more efficiently with common urban concerns.Ensuring urban environmental sustainability is one of these major common urban challenges(UN-HABITAT 2006). It relates to questions of waste and water management, air pollution,energy, transport and urban sprawl (Satterthwaite 1997; Hardoy, Mitlin, and Satterthwaite 2006:87-148). Urban environmental sustainability is not just a matter of local politics. As growingcenters of population and activity, cities contribute significantly to global environmentalproblems. They are, for example, responsible for 75% of the world’s energy consumption and80% of the greenhouse gas emissions (www.c40cities.org). At the same time, cities are affectedin a very specific way by global environmental change. The Urban Heat Island effect is just oneillustration. Urban environmental governance is very complicated and challenging for both citiesin the global North and cities in the global South (Satterthwaite 1997). Finding a balance betweensocial, economic and ecological demands is more easily said than done. Cooperation among citiesworldwide could therefore, ideally, enable cities to develop and implement appropriate policies.One way to categorize the city networks of global environmental governance that have beenestablished up to now, is based on the type of actor that has initiated them
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. Networks arelaunched by IGOs, cities and non-governmental and private actors. They encompass a group of cities that want to better handle environmental problems and, therefore, exchange best practices,knowledge, experiences, … In addition, other actors, such as financial institutions, academia,global companies, NGOs, … are involved in order to assist the cities technically and financially
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.
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For an overview of other categorizations, see Keiner and Kim 2007.
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Financial assistance occurs in two ways: the private sector is engaged to fund the networks or to arrangefinancial mechanisms in order to allow cities that not have sufficient starting capital, to engage in projects.
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beyond the network nodes of principal cities to assess the flows around the edges that fill in the gaps between the major nodal points
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