Cities, globalization and governance 2012-2022

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What Is a Smart City?
Bloomberg CityLab
International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP)

Global Cities Institute
Cities occupy pivotal positions as strategic actors in building global sustainability – not only in economic and environmental terms, but also in political terms. The Global Cities Institute addresses a core research question for this century: What forms of governance are we envisioning to guide urban change into more sustainable futures? Cities are large economic and spatial formations with complex political-administrative jurisdictions that demand new forms of governance. Informed local politics and improved transparency together with reformed local governance structures ensure a sustainable global trajectory.
Cities in a Globalizing World – the United Nations PDF
Global Report on Human Settlements 2001
Cities in a Globalizing World acknowledges the positive consequences of globalization: facilitated diffusion of knowledge; facilitated spread of norms of democratic governance, environmental justice and human rights; increased city-to- city exchanges of knowledge, experiences, best practices and lessons learned; and …
Smart cities: world’s best don’t just adopt new technology, they make it work for people
(WEF) Cities are fast becoming “smart”, and the impact on people’s lives can be immense. Singapore’s smart traffic cameras restrict traffic depending on volume, and ease the commute of thousands of passengers every day. In Kaunas, Lithuania, the cost of parking is automatically deducted from the bank accounts of drivers when they park their cars. In many cities, the timing of public buses is announced at each stop with almost perfect accuracy. And free WiFi is now accessible across entire cities, including Buenos Aires, Argentina and Ramallah, Palestine.

19-21 October
C40 World Mayors Summit 2022
[T]he City of Buenos Aires hosted the C40 World Mayors Summit, bringing together global mayors, alongside business leaders, philanthropists, campaigners, youth leaders, scientists and residents.
Participants stood #UnitedInAction to showcase solutions and city climate leadership around three key pillars:
a fair and inclusive pandemic recovery
wellbeing cities
the urgent need for climate finance
The mayor of London and chair of the C40, Sadiq Khan: Can city mayors change the course of climate crisis? (YouTube)
The London mayor discusses if city mayors can win the climate crisis race.
C40 cities to drive the creation of 50 million good, green jobs by 2030
At the C40 World Mayors Summit, mayors unite to drive the creation of 50 million good, green jobs by 2030; C40 research shows investing in urban climate action will halve emissions and create a third more jobs than continuing with business as usual.

Shanghai Villages Blamed for Covid Outbreak Face Demolition After Lockdowns
The Chinese financial hub is pressing ahead with a more aggressive approach in redeveloping these “villages within a city.”
(Bloomberg CityLab) Tens of thousands of migrant workers living on the margins of Shanghai are facing renewed threats of eviction after their villages were blamed for a major Covid-19 outbreak that led to a monthslong lockdown. Like many other big Chinese cities, Shanghai has been razing densely populated neighborhoods — known as “villages within a city” — to make room for new development. And while officials cite Covid as the reason for putting eight new villages on the chopping block, the strategy has been underway since 2014 as the metropolis races to become a global financial hub.
Such redevelopment, though, will force workers to move further away from the city center or back to their hometowns in search of affordable housing, raising the potential for social backlash or even unrest

3 September
Stockholm’s ‘Housing for All’ Is Now Just for the Few
(Bloomberg CityLab) Cities from New York to Dublin are seeing young people struggle to find affordable housing amid low supply, high demand and soaring inflation. But Sweden, where citizens pay among the highest tax rates in the world to offset better social services, was supposed to be the exception.
Soaring demand for rent-controlled housing in the Swedish capital has left many residents at the mercy of an expensive, sometimes dangerous sublet market.
For thousands of young Swedes working in Stockholm, the struggle for housing involves either scrambling for an expensive sublet or commuting into the city from more-affordable suburbs. The average wait time for rent-controlled apartments is now 9.2 years; in some desirable areas, prospective tenants might hold out for 20 years.

31 July-3 August
World Cities Summit 2022
The World Cities Summit is an exclusive platform for government leaders and industry experts to address liveable and sustainable city challenges, share integrated urban solutions and forge new partnerships.
Jointly organised by Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the biennial Summit has been attended by over 4000 delegates, from over 500 global cities, including government, business and thought leaders.
Speech by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the World Cities Summit 2022 Plenary – “Liveable and Sustainable Cities: Emerging Stronger” on 1 August 2022.
It has been more than 4 years since the last World Cities Summit was held as a fully in-person event. Since then we have been weathering a world-wide pandemic, and facing the global effects of a war in Europe. We are also facing longer term secular trends, such as climate change, and attitudes towards a more integrated global economy have shifted.
All these have major impacts on cities. Cities formed and grew because of the important economic, social, and cultural functions they play. But cities have also generated new problems because of the growth of economic activity and the crush of many people living together – and over the centuries, cities have been afflicted by plague, pollution, and uprisings.

6 July
Mayors are quickly becoming international diplomats. The US can help them thrive.
Last month at the Ninth Summit of the Americas, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States will host a Cities Summit of the Americas in Denver, Colorado in April 2023. Blinken also launched the Cities Forward Initiative, a knowledge-sharing and capacity-building program that connects cities so that they can work together to tackle issues like sustainability and climate resilience.
These two initiatives underscore the increasingly prominent role of US cities in global affairs and outline a new vision of foreign policy that strengthens alliances from the subnational to international level. By renewing focus on city diplomacy, the commitments have the potential to revitalize relations across the Western Hemisphere and re-center US foreign policy on the needs of local communities.


27 May
Can Removing Highways Fix America’s Cities?
(NYT) As midcentury highways reach the end of their life spans, cities across the country are having to choose whether to rebuild or reconsider them.
The growing movement has been energized by support from the Biden administration, which has made addressing racial justice and climate change, major themes in the debate over highway removal, central to its agenda.
In a wide-reaching infrastructure plan released at the end of March, President Biden proposed spending $20 billion to help reconnect neighborhoods divided by highways. Congressional Democrats have translated the proposal into legislation that would provide funding over the next five years. And the Department of Transportation opened up separate grants that could help some cities get started.
Pete Buttigieg, who heads the department, has expressed support for removing barriers that divided Black and minority communities, saying that “there is racism physically built into some of our highways.” Midcentury highway projects often targeted Black neighborhoods, destroying cultural and economic centers and bringing decades of environmental harm.

19 May
Pittsburgh Is Poised to Have Its First Black Mayor
(NYT) Ed Gainey won the Democratic primary in a city that is roughly a quarter Black. The incumbent, Bill Peduto, is the first Pittsburgh mayor to lose a bid to stay in office since 1933.
Though Pittsburgh routinely shows up on various lists as one of the country’s “most livable” cities, the mayoral campaign was fought largely around one short question: Livable for whom?
Mr. Gainey’s thoughts on that question were not drastically different from Mr. Peduto’s; both talked of addressing racial inequities and building more affordable housing. But Mr. Gainey pointed out that Mr. Peduto had already had two terms to do these things, and said he had fallen short.

27 April
Allison Hanes: Montreal must not sell its soul to the highest tower
As our downtown recovers from the pandemic, we must protect the city’s soul against developers with plans to destroy our heritage.
Pandemic Lessons From the Era of ‘Les Miserables’
Following disease outbreaks in the 19th century, Paris reimagined its streets, building the wide boulevards that the city is known for today.
From an irregular city of narrow medieval lanes — hard to clean and easy to block and barricade by discontents such as the rebels of 1832 — Paris was reimagined as a place of wide, regular avenues and boulevards, re-plotted to ease flows of citizens, of traffic, of soldiers and police, of garbage and of sewage. In doing so, Paris became a template emulated across the world: the quintessential example of how health crises that shake cities to their core can ultimately provoke a vigorous rebirth.
14 April
How Amsterdam Recovered From a Deadly Outbreak — in 1665
Following an epidemic of bubonic plague that wiped out 10% of the population, Amsterdam’s economy quickly rebounded, a new study shows.
By Feargus O’Sullivan

9 April
The Right Way to Rebuild Cities for Post-Pandemic Work
Cities should structure their economies for the workers they already have — not just to lure new ones.
(Bloomberg CityLab) The nature of work is indeed changing, and some workers will indeed move to new locales. But with little evidence that workers will relocate en masse, migration shouldn’t be the focus of cities’ efforts. Instead of luring remote workers during a period in which U.S. migration has remained historically low, city leaders should strive to make their regional economy and recovery work for the people and businesses already there, including by dismantling the local practices and norms that have stifled the economic potential of so many Black and Latino or Hispanic workers and entrepreneurs.

11 March
In some cities, the pandemic’s economic pain may continue for a decade
Mark Muro and Yang You
(Brookings) What will the COVID-19 aftermath mean for regional employment growth and local labor markets?
It’s unlikely that all cities and regions will fare equally well. To the contrary, in a nation of varied local economies, the pandemic’s long-term impacts will likely also vary.
…the first takeaway is that for all places, the pandemic is shaping up to depress employment growth from 1% to 4% over the next 10 years. So, while the immediate public health crisis will hopefully dissipate in the next year, the potential for longer-term and widespread economic impacts should not be underestimated.
…the interplay across places of accelerated scientific-technical and IT sector growth and reduced leisure, entertainment, and retail activity makes for a regionally disparate economic picture, with several troubling features.
Across states, tech- and science-oriented (and often northern) locations such as Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut stand to see relatively smaller employment slowdowns from the baseline growth scenario. This reflects the fact that they could see gains in IT and science employment while experiencing fewer negatives than elsewhere given their lower reliance on the vulnerable leisure, tourism, and dining sectors.
Conversely, southern, Sun Belt, and tourism-centric states such as Florida, Hawaii, and Nevada—which have limited scientific or IT sectors and heavy reliance on accommodation and food services, entertainment, and retail—could see meaningfully depressed employment growth over the next 10 years.
… Even amid optimistic forecasts and encouraging early signs, the complicated reality of recoveries remains the same. Recovery occurs, but as the divide between places shows, it is frequently less evenly distributed than expected.

2 March
What the recovery from the Great Recession reveals about post-pandemic work and cities
Joanne Kim and Tracy Hadden Loh
(Brookings) Since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been ongoing debate about the future of cities in a post-pandemic world, particularly about so-called “superstar” cities. Some economists and journalists paint gloomy pictures, predicting that many service jobs will not survive this economic downturn, while others remain optimistic about cities’ role in a post-pandemic economic recovery.
Most of these predictions are based on migration trends (across and within regions) and the possibility of permanent remote work. So, are physical workplaces obsolete now? Has the pandemic structurally changed how and where we work?
The answer is no—at least not for most workers. Remote work is not feasible for the majority of people who have continued to work at their usual job sites throughout the pandemic, and who will continue to do so afterward. In addition, while some workers can be productive remotely, it’s far from ideal for many types of work and workers in the long term.

A New Space For Mayors
Bloomberg Philanthropies is investing $150 million to fund a new Center for Cities at Harvard University.
“Executives in the private sector have long had access to countless leadership training programs,” wrote Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Michael R. Bloomberg in an opinion piece for the Boston Globe, along with Lawrence Bacow, president of Harvard University. “But until Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard started a leadership program in 2017 for mayors in cities across the country and around the world, the most important public sector executives didn’t, even though they control how billions of dollars are spent each year and are directly responsible for so many of the essential services that communities rely on every day.”
The announcement comes on day two of the CityLab 2021 summit, hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute.

20 January
Trump Made the Ultimate Case for D.C. Statehood
The Capitol attack and locked-down inauguration both illustrate how powerless the residents of Washington, D.C., are, statehood advocates say.
(Bloomberg City Lab) Since the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, statehood has emerged as an urgent priority for D.C. residents. The shock of that incident — especially the lack of precautions taken by federal authorities to prepare for an attack that had been openly planned — has reinvigorated local calls for full representation in Congress. And with Democrats now in control of the House, Senate and White House, advocates sense that this could be their best shot in a decade to achieve equal representation.
The feeling of opportunity is palpable, but this year, so is the sense of urgent need. While adding two senators for the District won’t put a stop to the reactionary right-wing violence that manifested at the Capitol, representation would give voice to residents in debates whose consequences materialize here as harm. D.C. residents put their lives on the line to protect the Capitol and members of Congress, including the Republicans who pushed a baseless conspiracy surrounding the outcome of the presidential election.
… Even after the [January 6] rally turned into a riot, it took hours to approve National Guard mobilization; police arrived from neighboring counties in Maryland and Virginia first. Of the 54 units that make up the National Guard…only the D.C. National Guard doesn’t fall under local control. The order has to come through the White House.
“What that week shows, or what it should show more people, is that statehood is not some theoretical little nicety,” says D.C. Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen, who represents Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods around the National Mall. “It’s about life and death. It is an absolute necessity.”
… [Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives] first proposed a statehood bill in 1991, the year she took office, at a time when D.C. was one of the poorest cities in the country, ravaged by the crack epidemic. In the years since, lawmakers in Congress have often seized on the local government’s perceived fiscal and political mismanagement to refuse the District’s calls for full representation.
But during the often-chaotic Trump era, that argument did not resonate as it once did. The city has maintained balanced budgets for 20 years; before the pandemic struck in March, the D.C. government had a rainy-day fund of $1.43 billion.
The House finally passed H.R. 51 in June, and has the margins to do so again. But to pass the Senate, a statehood bill would need to gain the support of every Democrat plus 10 Republicans — or the Democratic majority would need to eliminate the filibuster. Both outcomes look uncertain right now, although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not ruled out scrapping the filibuster. A win would inevitably land in the courts, since Republicans argue that Holmes Norton’s maneuver — which would shrink the seat of government to the borders of the federal enclave, enabling the rest of the District to form a state — can’t be done without an amendment to the Constitution.

15 January
American Cities See Their Luck Turn With a Biden Administration
Local government aid in Joe Biden’s proposed stimulus bill is the latest bright spot for cities and states that were treated as adversaries during the Trump administration.
President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed cabinet includes at least six officials who have led municipalities or states, like former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. That’s in sharp contrast to President Donald Trump, whose cabinet relied heavily on corporate and industry insiders.
On Thursday, state and local leaders got a glimpse of what an ally in the White House could mean. Biden outlined an economic stimulus package that would provide $350 billion in aid to municipal governments. Such help was a major roadblock in stimulus negotiations in 2020, with Trump repeatedly characterizing it as a bailout for Democratic states like Illinois.

9 January
D.C. Statehood Is More Urgent Than Ever
“The real fraud is that we call ourselves a democracy yet deny the people of our capital political representation.”
Hannah Giorgis
(The Atlantic) [The late Representative John] Lewis had backed the symbolically named House Resolution 51 since Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting delegate, first introduced it nearly three decades ago. In 1993, Lewis declared, “It is not right that there is still an America where there is still some taxation without representation.”
… To fully comprehend Wednesday’s events, and the potential for such chaos to recur, it’s imperative to grasp just how little control the District’s elected officials and its more than 700,000 residents hold over their city—and how statehood would change that.
The District of Columbia’s lack of sovereignty leaves its residents and local officials with few defenses in the face of organized attacks. The Capitol Police, … the taxpayer-funded law-enforcement entity charged with protecting the Capitol and its perimeter is accountable only to the federal government.
Though the rapidly gentrifying District is now 46 percent Black and 46 percent white, many still see it as “Chocolate City.” Scaling back democratic protections for Black people has been a hallmark of this administration and the ones it’s modeled itself after. As my colleague Adam Serwer wrote, “Presenting the disenfranchisement of Black Americans as an exercise in good government is one of the most recognizable constants of American history.” D.C. residents consistently support statehood, but national attitudes are just beginning to catch up.


16 December
The Great Real Estate Reset
The office, reimagined: The nature of office work is shifting, and so must downtowns
(Brookings) Four converging trends (only one of which the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated) are redefining the office real estate market much faster than builders and asset managers can respond.
Knowledge sector jobs are clustering.
The finance, technology, and innovation sectors rely on specialized talent, tacit knowledge, and increased productivity from knowledge spillovers. The latter two operate at very small spatial scales, resulting in extraordinary hyper-agglomeration of these sectors in a select few metropolitan areas as well as in individual neighborhoods and buildings, including emerging innovation districts around anchor institutions such as universities and hospitals. …
Office space needs and preferences are radically changing. … Larger numbers of white-collar employees are shifting from living at work to working at home. … The volume of office space is now exceeding demand, resulting in rising vacancy rates.

6 August
How to make the most of city diplomacy in the COVID-19 era
Anthony F. Pipa and Max Bouchet
(Brookings) On March 27, Mayor Eric Garcetti virtually convened 45 mayors from around the world to share their experiences responding to COVID-19 as it rippled throughout the world. These mayors were part of C40 Cities, a network of 96 of the world’s largest cities focused on fighting the climate emergency.
The C40 quickly repurposed from its focus on tackling climate change to leverage its relationships, capacity, and expertise with cities to facilitate their leadership on the front lines of the response to COVID-19. In short order it rolled out a knowledge base, set up a recovery task force chaired by Mayor Beppe Sala of Milan, and signed up an influential set of global cities to make issues of equity and climate action central to COVID-19 response and recovery.
… The prevailing view is that cross-border collaboration and experience sharing among city officials reflect a type of global cooperation based primarily on pragmatism and problem-solving, rather than geopolitical interests, which differentiates it from traditional multilateralism. What is the COVID-19 crisis revealing about this thesis and the value, limitations, and likely evolution of global city-to-city cooperation?
Complementing direct bilateral relationships, a large part of city-to-city cooperation is structured through city networks, whose number has grown exponentially since the 1980s, estimated to total about 300 today. Each network emerged primarily to respond to a specific demand, with the resulting ecosystem encompassing a wide range of specific objectives and aspirations. Some seek to create a political forum for dialogue, cooperation, and knowledge sharing, such as the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), which supports an “international municipal movement.” Others focus on specific sectors or topical areas, such as climate change (C40 Cities), resilience (Global Resilient Cities Network), and migration (Mayors Migration Council).

2 July
Reopening the World: City leadership is fundamental to reopening the economy
(Brookings) As they emerge from lockdown, local leaders worldwide see reopening as an opportunity. The mayors of Milan, Helsinki, Bristol, and several other global cities whom we contacted are determined to reduce their cities’ vulnerabilities, and not just as they relate to COVID-19: they see a chance to build a healthier, more sustainable future that improves their cities’ resilience to a wide range of shocks and shifts. This means addressing the economic inequities and environmental stresses that make their cities susceptible—and doing so now.

26 March
State policies to promote shared prosperity in cities
Solomon Greene, Alan Berube, John D. Ratliff, and Aaron Shroyer
(Brookings) There are many areas of policy in which a closer and more collaborative partnership between states and cities would help Americans more easily navigate economic change and promote shared prosperity. Specifically, there are three key policy areas that both greatly influence people’s access to important economic opportunities and involve deeply shared responsibilities between state and local governments:
Creating and preserving affordable rental housing.
Attracting and growing quality jobs.
Helping workers obtain the skills they need.
In this series of briefs, we suggest ways that states and cities can work together to encourage shared prosperity. We articulate why affordable housing, job growth and upskilling workers matter to statewide shared prosperity, explore how state and local governments can more effectively partner in these areas, and profile states that are leading the way. Across these areas, states bring a unique set of assets and capacities to new partnerships with cities, including three key roles they can play to advance shared prosperity:

March 30
(C40) Cities can help nations achieve their Paris Agreement commitment by supporting the implementation of transformational actions to increase the supply of renewable energy, improve building energy efficiency, increase access to affordable, low carbon transport options, and change consumption patterns.
Seventy per cent of C40 cities report that they are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Cities need to adapt and improve their resilience to climate hazards that may impact them, both in the short-term and in future climate change scenarios. Cities are already leading the way with ambitious plans to accelerate action on climate change. With more political will, community support and collaboration, cities can make an even greater contribution to securing a climate safe future.
The report, Cities leading the way: Seven climate action plans to deliver on the Paris Agreement, showcases seven cities with climate action plans that put the city on a path to become emissions neutral by 2050 and more resilient to the impacts of climate change. All seven climate action plans have been deemed compatible with the C40 Cities Climate Action Planning Framework, which sets out the essential components of a climate action plan to deliver low-carbon resilient development consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

25 February
3 ways cities can redefine their economic trajectories
(Brookings) Broadly speaking, a high concentration of advanced or complex industries can generate positive spillovers, allowing cities to push the frontier and accelerate growth. … Yet there are many more ways for regional economies to develop. Around the country, complex, synergistic, and seemingly unexpected industry combinations have taken root.
By understanding the nuance and trajectory of a city’s unique industrial structure, leaders can chart a course to shared prosperity and inclusive economic growth.
This premise—that regional leaders can benefit from tools that empower them to make strategic decisions—motivates the efforts of the Workforce of the Future initiative at Brookings. Following our 2019 report on the industrial evolution of regions across the country, “Growing cities that work for all,” the initiative turned its attention to making the results digestible and actionable for regional leaders across the country. The visualization, A Roadmap for Growing Good Jobs, represents the first milestone in that effort.

12 February
Bloomberg Politics: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threw everything he had at the capital, but it was all in vain.
New Delhi’s decisive rejection of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in state elections is the latest show of defiance by a key city against the incumbent tide of nationalist populism.
In Europe, Warsaw, Budapest and Prague have emerged as bastions against the illiberal policies of the respective governments in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, elected a mayor in defiance of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — a city he once ran — and his brand of identity politics. Londoners overwhelmingly opposed Brexit.
New York, Los Angeles and Washington all resisted Donald Trump at the last U.S. presidential election in 2016.
Big cities tend to have better educated and more cosmopolitan residents who benefit from superior services and opportunities, so it’s perhaps no great surprise they choose their own political path.
And of course local issues matter every bit as much as national politics: In Delhi, water supply and education dominated. Even so, the results announced yesterday showed that in the national capital, the “Modi magic is not working,” said political analyst Satish Misra.
As populists dig in, the world’s major cities may offer some respite from increasingly embittered political divisions.
— Alan Crawford


9 October
Immigration 101: What is a Sanctuary City?
“Sanctuary cities” is actually a misnomer. While many Americans believe that it refers to a city that doesn’t prosecute immigrants, so-called “sanctuary cities” actually refer to something far more specific.
There’s no single definition of what is a sanctuary city, but generally speaking, it’s a city (or a county, or a state) that limits its cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents in order to protect low-priority immigrants from deportation, while still turning over those who have committed serious crimes. This is why we prefer the term “safe cities”.
19 May
Smart Cities: The Future Of Urban Development
(Forbes) Smart cities bring together infrastructure and technology to improve the quality of life of citizens and enhance their interactions with the urban environment. But how can data from areas such as public transport, air quality meters and energy production be integrated and effectively used?

September 2018
Global Comparative Urban Governance – Cities as leaders and targets of the XXIst century
… beyond the world of large urban concentration, urbanization mostly takes place in dynamic medium size cities in Canada, Africa, in India, in China also, and Europe. The world of cities comprises many sizes, not just the huge and most visible ones. Among them informal urbanization (Palermo or Indian cities) contrasts with high income cities (Vancouver) or shrinking cities (Leipzig, Detroit, Yichun in China)….not to mention the return of city states such as Singapore, Panama or Dubai. Brief examples set the terrain for our research programme :

25 January 2017
‘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.”


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
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.


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


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.


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


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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