Cities, globalization and governance

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‘Sanctuary City’ Mayors Vow to Defy Trump’s Immigration Order
The mayors of American cities large and small reacted with outrage on Wednesday as President Trump signed an executive order saying he would halt funding to municipalities that did not cooperate with federal immigration officials.
The defiant officials — from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and smaller cities, including New Haven; Syracuse; and Austin, Tex., said they were prepared for a protracted fight.
“We’re going to defend all of our people regardless of where they come from, regardless of their immigration status,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said at a news conference with other city officials.
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared: “I want to be clear: We’re going to stay a sanctuary city. There is no stranger among us. Whether you’re from Poland or Pakistan, whether you’re from Ireland or India or Israel and whether you’re from Mexico or Moldova, where my grandfather came from, you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American dream.”

2016

27 November
Cities Vow to Fight Trump on Immigration, Even if They Lose Millions
(NYT) Here in Los Angeles, where nearly half of the city’s residents are Latino, Mayor Eric Garcetti has vowed to do everything he can to fight widespread deportations of illegal immigrants.
In New York, with a large and diverse Latino population, Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged not to cooperate with immigration agents. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago has declared that it “will always be a sanctuary city.”
Across the nation, officials in sanctuary cities are gearing up to oppose President-elect Donald J. Trump if he follows through on a campaign promise to deport millions of illegal immigrants. They are promising to maintain their policies of limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents.
In doing so, municipal officials risk losing millions of dollars in federal assistance for their cities that helps pay for services like fighting crime and running homeless shelters. Mr. Trump has vowed to block all federal funding for cities where local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
22 November
Michael Bloomberg: Washington Won’t Have Last Word on Climate Change
if the Trump administration does withdraw from the Paris accord, I will recommend that the 128 U.S. mayors who are part of the Global Covenant of Mayors seek to join in its place.
I am confident that no matter what happens in Washington, no matter what regulations the next administration adopts or rescinds, no matter what laws the next Congress may pass, we will meet the pledges that the U.S. made in Paris.
The reason is simple: Cities, businesses and citizens will continue reducing emissions, because they have concluded — just as China has — that doing so is in their own self-interest.
The U.S.’s success in fighting climate change has never been primarily dependent on Washington. Bear in mind: Over the past decade, Congress has not passed a single bill that takes direct aim at climate change. Yet at the same time, the U.S. has led the world in reducing emissions.
That progress has been driven by cities, businesses and citizens — and none of them are letting up now.
Last June in Beijing, during the U.S.-China Cities Summit on Climate Change, we announced a partnership between the Compact of Mayors and China’s Alliance of Peaking Pioneer Cities. Since then, the Compact of Mayors has joined forces with the European Union’s Covenant of Mayors, making the new Global Covenant of Mayors the single largest and most ambitious coalition of mayors on climate change.
21 November
Sulaimania: Saving the dream city of a Kurdish prince
Efforts are under way to salvage what remains of old Sulaimania, once a bastion of diversity and cosmopolitanism.
(Al Jazeera) In 1784, an ambitious Kurdish prince inaugurated the new capital of the Kurdish principality of Baban. It was the city of Sulaimania.
The young Ibrahim Pasha had spent years studying in the vibrant cities of Baghdad and Istanbul. Now, he was back in his hometown of Qalachwalan, then considered a rural backwater. But he had brought with him dreams of building a Kurdish city just like the most sophisticated cities of the Persian and Ottoman empires he had left behind.
31 October
jane-jacobs_the-atlanticNathaniel Rich on the prophecies of urban-studies pioneer Jane Jacobs:
Urban life was Jacobs’s great subject. But her great theme was the fragility of democracy—how difficult it is to maintain, how easily it can crumble. A city offered the perfect laboratory in which to study democracy’s intricate, interconnected gears and ballistics. “When we deal with cities,” she wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), “we are dealing with life at its most complex and intense.” When cities succeed, they represent the purest manifestation of democratic ideals: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” When cities fail, they fail for the same reasons democracies fail: corruption, tyranny, homogenization, overspecialization, cultural drift and atrophy.

Jacobs’s argument is that a city, or neighborhood, or block, cannot succeed without diversity: diversity of residential and commercial use, racial and socioeconomic diversity, diversity of governing bodies (from local wards to state agencies), diverse modes of transportation, diversity of public and private institutional support, diversity of architectural style. Great numbers of people concentrated in relatively small areas should not be considered a health or safety hazard; they are the foundation of a healthy community. Dense, varied populations are “desirable,” Jacobs wrote, “because they are the source of immense vitality, and because they do represent, in small geographic compass, a great and exuberant richness of differences and possibilities, many of these differences unique and unpredictable and all the more valuable because they are.”

Two new biographies—Laurence’s Becoming Jane Jacobs, a close, vivid study of Jacobs’s intellectual development, and Robert Kanigel’s broader Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs—as well as an anthology of previously uncollected articles and speeches, Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs, and Jane Jacobs: The Last Interview and Other Conversations correct the record. By the time she published her masterpiece, at the age of 45, she had been writing about urban redevelopment for nearly a decade in dozens of lengthy articles for Architectural Forum. Before that she had written about, and in direct service of, American democracy. (The Atlantic November 2016 issue)

22 February
In pictures: China bans ‘bizarre’ architecture
(BBC) The Chinese government has issued a new directive banning “bizarre architecture”, and criticising some of the “oversized, xenocentric, weird” buildings in the country.
China has seen a number of architectural gems springing up in recent years, including one building shaped like a teapot and another that has been likened to a pair of trousers.
Under the new directive, buildings are to be “economical, functional, aesthetically pleasing” and “environmentally friendly”. But, who is to judge?
11 February
Montreal-750x400
Three Canadian Cities Ranked Among the Smartest in the World
The Intelligent Community Forum named the top seven intelligent communities for 2016. And with an IQ popping three Canadian cities on the list, it’s time for us to stop being modest.
The non-profit think tank, based in New York, announced the winners this week, recognizing seven of the world’s most gifted metropolises. Of the three Canadian cities on the list, all were from a different province; Montreal (Quebec), Surrey (B.C), and Winnipeg (Manitoba). Meaning that the country’s intellect isn’t just concentrated in one area – there are geniuses from all across the land.
The Intelligent Community Indicators used six pointers to define the critical success factors, which provides the framework for understanding what goes into making an intelligent community.
Broadband, Knowledge Workforce, Innovation, Digital Equality, Sustainability and Advocacy all add up to decide who is eligible for the top 21 (announced in November) which was ultimately whittled down to a top seven.
Among other things, Montreal made the list because of its Smart City plan, launched in 2011, which built-out the city’s broadband infrastructure. It was also commended for the influence of so many impressive academic institutions which graduates more students in higher education from its metro area than any other Canadian city. Its set-up for small businesses and accelerator programs were commended.

2015

21 October
Mayors Nenshi and Iveson on “Cities and the Future of Canada” (video)
On Wednesday, October 21, Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson shared the stage at the 10th Annual Hurtig Lecture on the Future of Canada. Each mayor was given 15 minutes to speak about the role of cities in our collective future, and then the two answered questions from the floor with a very engaged audience.
11 June
Mayors have vital role in ensuring social peace, Denis Coderre tells summit
The mayors of 23 cities from around the world signed a declaration Thursday pledging to share information on how to prevent acts of violence stemming from radicalization at the close of a two-day summit in Montreal.
In signing the Declaration of Montreal on Living Together, the mayors also pledged to create a permanent forum through which they can share best practises for combating radicalization of their citizens, favour inclusion of all citizens in society and fight discrimination.
The headquarters of this forum, dubbed the “International Mayors’ Observatory on Living Together”, will be in Montreal for the next five years, headed by lawyer and diplomat Raymond Chrétien. Major universities from the participating cities have agreed to contribute research to the observatory, Coderre said.
2 February
Naheed Nenshi Named Best Mayor In The World
It’s official: Calgary has the most outstanding mayor in the world.
Naheed Nenshi has been awarded the 2014 World Mayor Prize, beating out 29 other mayors worldwide — and news of the win comes on his birthday, no less.
The award makes Nenshi the “most admired mayor of any large Canadian city,” according to the World Mayor Contest website.
“He is an urban visionary who doesn’t neglect the nitty-gritty of local government. For many in North America and indeed Europe, Mayor Nenshi is a role model for decisive management, inclusivity and forward planning.”
The website also acknowledges Nenshi’s leadership during the 2013 Alberta floods, and his impressive ability to rally voters in both of his mayoral campaigns

2014

Why Cities Work Even When Washington Doesn’t — The case for strong mayors
(Atlantic magazine April 2014) once you look away from the national level, the American style of self-government can seem practical-minded, nonideological, future-oriented, and capable of compromise. These are of course the very traits we seem to have lost in our national politics.
City-level success is of course no substitute for a functioning national government…. But city-level success is better than city-level failure, and what we’ve seen recently is that this is not limited to the biggest cities with the most dominant (or richest) figures as mayors. A very positive analysis of what makes for strong, independent cities; Burlington, Vermont is one of the examples cited for dynamic and intelligent development.
9 March
The-Shard-London-Renzo-Piano-006London, a city in thrall to money and greed
Inequality is booming in our capital. A debate about housing and the impact of the global super-rich is long overdue
(The Guardian) Increasingly, public officials in cities such as New York, Berlin and Paris are raising concerns about housing and inequality and impact of a global super-rich. That debate has only just started in the UK.
The next mayoral elections should become the platform for a debate about how we want the city to develop for the benefit of all – not just a few – of its inhabitants. It’s time for Londoners to start taking back their city.

London is desperate for change: for more affordable house building; the imposition of rent controls; the licensing of landlords; a mansion tax; increased council tax for empty properties (a 150% hike operates in Camden for those left empty for more than two years); a higher minimum wage and compulsory purchase orders, plus tougher planning regulations and restrictions on the proportion of overseas buyers per development.
Nationally, realignment is vital. More regionalism and local control of budgets and greater support for the efforts of our provincial cities to create networks should all be supported.
Currently, the physical map of London is being transformed by projects such as the Shard; the Qatari-owned 72-floor skyscraper in Southwark. The maintenance of this luxury address falls to economic refugees bussed in from over-priced bed-sits two hours away, struggling on a minimum wage.
Ben Judah: London’s Laundry Business
The Shard encapsulates the new hierarchy of the city. On the top floors, “ultra high net worth individuals” entertain escorts in luxury apartments. By day, on floors below, investment bankers trade incomprehensible derivatives.
Come nightfall, the elevators are full of African cleaners, paid next to nothing and treated as nonexistent. The acres of glass windows are scrubbed by Polish laborers, who sleep four to a room in bedsit slums. And near the Shard are the immigrants from Lithuania and Romania, who broke their backs on construction sites, but are now destitute and whiling away their hours along the banks of the Thames.
The Shard is London, a symbol of a city where oligarchs are celebrated and migrants are exploited but that pretends to be a multicultural utopia. Here, in their capital city, the English are no longer calling the shots. They are hirelings.

2013

Bloomberg Focuses on Rest (as in Rest of the World)>
Michael R. Bloomberg, determined to parlay his government experience and vast fortune into a kind of global mayoralty, is creating a high-powered consulting group to help him reshape cities around the world long after he leaves office.
To build the new organization, paid for out of his own pocket, the billionaire mayor is taking much of his City Hall team with him: He has already hired many of his best-known and longest-serving deputies, promising them a chance to export the policies they developed in New York to far-flung places like Louisville, Ky., and Mexico City.
For Mr. Bloomberg, the project is the first concrete phase of a post-mayoral life that aides said would remain intensely focused on cities, long viewed by him as laboratories for large-scale experiments in public health, economic development and environmental sustainability.
Above all, the new endeavor reflects a profound confidence — never in short supply with this mayor — that it would behoove dozens of municipalities to replicate the ideas that defined his tenure: turning busy roads into pedestrian plazas, posting calorie counts in fast-food chains, creating a customer-service hotline for citizens.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) — a network of large and engaged cities from around the world.
World Mayors Council on Climate Change — the voice of local governments in the global environmental forums.
World Association of Major Metropolises (Metropolis)
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) — represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage, regardless of the size of the communities they serve.
Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) Local Governments for Sustainability is the world’s leading association of cities and local governments dedicated to sustainable development.
UN Habitat mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. State of the World’s Cities 2012/2013

 

30 August
The 10 worst cities in the world to live in
(The independent) Not surprisingly  Damascus in Syria is the worst city in the world to live in, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking. Cities across the world are awarded scores depending on lifestyle challenges faced by the people living there. Each city is scored on its stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Since the Arab Spring in 2011, Syria has been plagued with destruction and violence as rebels fight government forces. The country has been left battle-scarred with around 2 million people fleeing from country, while Damascus has been the source of much recent tension. Other cities that have made it onto worst cities the list include Dhaka in Bangladesh and Lagos in Nigeria. Third worst city to live in was Port Moresby in Papa New Guinea.
19 July
Governments ponder how to weather the next big storm
First comes the deluge. Then the scramble to clean up. And then the hope that a flood-ravaged community won’t see a so-called “once-in-100-years” disaster for another century.
But with scientists, urban planners and insurers warning that freak flooding events that wreaked havoc on communities in Southern Alberta and around Toronto this summer will only grow more common with climate change, municipalities are now beginning to take the expensive, prolonged and sometimes politically unpopular steps to build up ambitious flood prevention infrastructure.
Following the release of an Alberta government plan for compensation and flood mitigation measures, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi expressed concern that municipalities were not consulted, that the province’s flood maps may be out of date and that it’s not clear what next steps homeowners must take.
In an interview, he pointed to the inner city neighbourhood of Inglewood, which saw some flood destruction held at bay by a berm constructed in 2011.
“Is that berm a mitigation effort? Does that mean that homeowners who are building in that neighbourhood do not need to do anything further? And that’s where we really have to work to get some definition. And that will take some time,” he said.
28 June
Maybe we should just let supermayors be mayors
Good mayors are important, especially when disaster strikes. And as Canada has amply demonstrated of late, good mayors can be hard to find
(Ottawa Citizen) Naheed Nenshi, the mayor of Calgary, and Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, have a lot in common. For one thing, they’re likely to be followed on Twitter by people who have never even been to Calgary or New Jersey.
And as both have had occasion to demonstrate, they can hold a city together during a natural disaster. They’ll go where the problems are and stay as long as they’re needed. It’s hard to tell when it’s mere gimmick and when it’s public service, and whether there is even a difference in their minds. Does it matter? Good communication is good communication.
They were both underdogs in civic politics, now in their 40s, with big grins and big personalities. They speak plainly but they don’t talk down to people. They don’t hide their intelligence and they expect intelligence in voters.
24 June
Local Officials Lead Revolution to Make American Cities More Livable
(PBS Newshour) Cities are increasingly the places people want to live. Two-thirds of Americans today reside in metropolitan areas, which in turn account for three-fourths of the nation’s economy.
But government has traditionally operated with the model of Washington, the federal government, on top, the states next and cities having whatever is left over at the bottom. Now, however, as urban areas are being forced to grapple with most of the toughest problems, including jobs, housing, transportation and the environment and because Washington is viewed as stuck in partisan gridlock and not able to respond quickly, cities are starting to take matters into their own hands.
And that’s the premise of a new book. It’s called “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.”
17 June
themetropolitanrevolution_2x3 The Metropolitan Revolution
How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy
(Brookings Institution) A revolution is stirring in America. Across the nation cities and metropolitan areas, and the networks of pragmatic leaders who govern them, are taking on the big issues that Washington won’t, or can’t, solve. They are reshaping our economy and fixing our broken political system.
The Metropolitan Revolution is a national movement, and the book describes how it is taking root in New York City, where efforts are under way to diversify the city’s vast economy; in Portland, Oregon, which is selling the “sustainability” solutions it has perfected to other cities around the world; in Northeast Ohio, where groups are using industrial-age skills to invent new twenty-first-century materials, tools, and processes; in Houston, where a modern settlement house helps immigrants climb the employment ladder; in Miami, where innovators are forging strong ties with Brazil and other nations; in Denver and Los Angeles, where leaders are breaking political barriers and building world-class metropolises; and in Boston and Detroit, where innovation districts are hatching ideas to power these economies for the next century.
Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley highlight these success stories and the people behind them in order to share lessons and catalyze action. This revolution is happening, and every community in the country can benefit.
25 January
The Return of the Trading City
(Project Syndicate) Recently, a group of officials gathered to plot a new trade strategy. It was a typical trade-policy discussion: the participants diagnosed competitive export sectors, identified key trading partners, described how public and private investment could resolve barriers to global integration, and forged a new bilateral relationship. …
In the age of the WTO, free-trade agreements, and currency wars, why would a city have a trade strategy? The answer is simple: as Portland’s initiative – one of a growing number of metropolitan-led trade efforts worldwide – recognizes, cities, not countries, are the real centers of global trade.
More than 2,000 years ago, before the emergence of the nation-state, the Silk Road connected Xi’an, Baghdad, Istanbul, and hundreds of other cities through trade. In the Middle Ages, Zanzibar and other East African cities served as trading hubs for Asian merchants. And the Hanseatic League, a confederation of market towns, facilitated trade between coastal European cities between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Cities unite people who seek common space to exchange goods, services, and information. In the mid-eighteenth century, Adam Smith observed that in his native Scotland’s sparsely populated Highlands, “every farmer must be butcher, baker, and brewer for his own family.” But cities, he noted, permit the division and specialization of labor, allowing people to trade what they do not consume. Read more

20012

The World’s Fastest-Growing and Fastest-Shrinking Cities in 2012
If you want to see what economists are talking about when they talk about a “two-speed” world, just look at this graph above, from today’s Brookings Global MetroMonitor, which ranks the world’s 300 biggest cities by GDP and job growth.
The top 50 fastest-growing cities, by GDP per capita, are practically all in the developing Asian world. The top 18 are in China. The rest are in China, Indonesia (Jakarta), India (Chennai), and Australia (Perth).
Of the world’s fastest-shrinking cities, 42 of the bottom 50 were in the EU. The others included Dubai, Adelaide, Australia, and Albuquerque.
Entering next year, both the fastest growing and fastest shrinking cities in the world are in countries with big question marks. China’s iffy transition from investment economy to consumption economy has some worried about the regions growth and the global commodity boom that supports resource-rich economies like Australia and Peru. Meanwhile, Europe has managed to prevent a depression by enforcing a managed recession on the entire EU. There is no expectation that Europe will grow more than 0.0% in 2013; meanwhile India’s growth has returned to its 2007 lows.
But, as the graph at the top suggests, world markets rely on world-leading Chinese growth, and a clear deceleration in its economy — even if it turns out to be good for wages, workers, and the China’s necessary evolution into a modern consumer economy — would result in hundreds of slower-growing cities around the world in 2013.

4 December
Amsterdam plans to relocate troublemakers to ‘scum villages’
In a move that sounds straight out of Orwell, Amsterdam allocated 1 million euros last week to a plan that would relocate trouble-making neighbors to camps on the outskirts of the city, BBC reports.
The “scum villages,” as critics have called them, would lie in isolated areas and provide only basic services to their unwilling residents. According to details of the plan reported by Der Spiegel and the BBC, residents will live in “container homes,” under the watchful eye of social workers or police. The residents themselves might not make very good company. According to the BBC, they’ll include families that engage in repeated, small-scale harassment, like bullying gay neighbors or intimidating police witnesses.
If this reads a little like ghettoization, you’re not the only one to notice. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan has already faced a number of questions about the fairness of the plan, as well as the fear that crowding troublemakers together will simply breed more trouble. Most alarming, however, are the parallels to a plan proposed by far right-wing politician Geert Wilders last year.
Under that plan, Dutch paper de Volkskrant reports, repeat offenders (and their families, if minors) would relocate to container compounds in isolated areas. Residents could only return to society after a proven period of work or study.
23 November
Urban Diplomacy: Local Leaders, Global Challenges
By Michele Acutu
Canadian International Council, Open Canada. org

International fora are increasingly calling for renewed environmental or economic diplomacy that is better tailored to an “urban century,” as the present time has often been described. Yet, there could be more to this intersection of international and urban that we need to explore: Cities have for too long been presented as mere places where contemporary revolutions, from climate change to social polarization and the rise of global mobility, have been playing out. However, the “city” is not a hollow encasement for worldwide trends. Rather, cities have also historically represented political systems and proactive international actors.

If there are growing concerns about a diplomacy for cities, but cities also need to be understood as possible international actors, could we then think of a diplomacy by cities? We need to re-conceptualize cities as not only the hinges of the global urbanization movement, but as participants in world politics whose initiatives are creating unprecedented opportunities for global governance. In particular, we need to consider how city leaders are linking their municipal mandates to global agendas of diplomats and international organizations.
Mayors as diplomats
Confronted with the shortcomings of international political processes, many scholars and diplomats have turned to the non-governmental sphere in search of more practical actions on global challenges. It is not uncommon today to find calls for global civil society engagement, public-private partnerships, and citizen diplomacy in almost all contexts of international relations. Yet, this search for agency in the NGO sector is missing some very crucial participants in world politics. Much of the catalytic influence needed to address crosscutting problems such as climate change and social polarization is to be found deep within state actors, entities whose influence academics and diplomatic practitioners often underestimate.
Evidence can be found in the efforts of individuals like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has, in the past few years, publicly criticized international processes for producing “an awful lot of hot air” in opposition to the real, everyday actions of city leaders. The former mayor of Toronto, David Miller, also articulated this message at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009: “While climate change demands global action, we have shown that we are not waiting for others to act.” As Miller’s successor to the helm of the Climate Leadership Group, which gathers together leaders from some of the most prominent cities worldwide to offer urban solutions to global warming, Bloomberg recently reiterated this in an interview with the BBC, declaring that “it is up to mayors” to solve environmental problems.
See also the interactive graphic Networked Cities

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