The Diplomacy of Sustainability: Are Global Cities the New Climate Leaders?

Principal Investigator:
Michele Acuto, CPD Research Fellow, 2011-2013

Contributing Researcher:
Emily Schatzle

Past Contributing Researcher:
Jessica Castillo

Urbanizing China-EU Relations?
Global Cities, Governance and Diplomacy

While a growing body of literature is nowadays concerned with explaining the dynamic changes of the international order, almost no political theorization has taken into account the city as an element of these revolutions. Yet, in a world where more than half of humanity lives in urban settlements, the role of cities in defining the parameters of everyday life is an undeniable influence which cannot be regarded as outside of the purview of international affairs. Besides, certain cities in particular— those popularly known as “global cities”— have a pivotal role in articulating global, international and transnational processes through the situated urban practices we all partake in—a dimension hitherto overlooked in the field of international studies.

This project sought to redress this perceptual flaw. Relying on a research of the ‘urban links’ between these cities and wider spheres of governance, and on practical examples of this nexus as it unfolds in the global politics of sustainability of the Climate Leadership Group (or ‘C40’). It aimed to illustrate how global cities interact with global governance, and how the catalytic role of their mayors and the networking capacity of the transnational policy-making networks they partake in are crucial in re-framing and re-scaling the world politics of our urban age.

This project will therefore cover the issues of city diplomacy; the strategic role of global city mayors of key C40 members like London or New York; and in the cross-cutting capacity of transnational policymaking networks the Group is inspiring. The project will shed light on how metropolises respond to transnational, long-term, and ‘wicked’ problems for world politics, and how they devise strategic linkages to provide urban solutions to global challenges.