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

Global cities gain clout on international affairs

Mayors descended on Paris last year to influence global climate talks. (City of Paris photo)

As they expand in size and influence, urban powerhouses such as Seoul and New York rival many nation-states on economic and political muscle. Robert Muggah and Eugene Zapata-Garesche write for Devex that these and other “supercities” are gaining clout on another front: international relations.

“Cities are forming a new diplomatic corps — with mayors, urban planners, city entrepreneurs, local cultural leaders, academic forerunners and super cops serving as emissaries,” they write. Beginning in February, Mexico City will function under a revised charter that elevates its role on the global stage. A new Global Pariliament of Mayors launches in September to tackle major challenges facing the world’s cities. It will join an array of umbrella groups for urban leaders.

Cities are raising their profiles on issues ranging from climate change to global conflict and peacemaking. The mayors of Barcelona, Madrid and Paris championed “open-door” policies toward Syrian refugees that deviated from more restrictive national-level immigration policies.

This brave new world for municipal leaders also is fraught with challenges, Muggah and Zapata-Garesche write. As Citiscope has reported, calls for local authorities to be given a special status within the United Nations system — basically acknowledging that they should be considered a sphere of government rather than classified as an NGO — have so far been rebuffed. 


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