Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

The rise of ‘foreign policy’ for global cities

More than 70 mayors are at the World Cities Summit in New York this week to trade innovative ideas and learn from each other. (Christopher Swope)

As cities become more global, they’re beginning to adopt “foreign policies” tailored toward urban issues. Kathy Bergen reports for the Chicago Tribune that this “paradiplomacy” arises from cities looking beyond their borders for solutions to challenges ranging from poverty to pollution.

São Paulo, South America’s largest metropolis, exemplifies the trend. Before adding bus lanes or modernizing street lights, city leaders turn to Paris, New York, Buenos Aires and elsewhere for ideas. “Megacities are swapping information and forging powerful alliances with far-flung counterparts in new and strategic ways,” Bergen writes. Hong Kong’s trade development council operates 44 offices in cities worldwide.

Successful city-level foreign policies can pay dividends in the form of increased investment, fresh business opportunities and boosts to tourism, the article says. Other areas where cities are looking abroad include the arts and education. Benjamin Barber, author of If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities, argues that cities are less “hamstrung” by global tensions than nation-states, the Tribune reports. 

Click here to see a collection of Citiscope stories related to the question of the role of cities in global talks before the United Nations.

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