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New Global City Governance? Driven By New Urban Imperatives Of Climate And Resilience | Science Trends

New Global City Governance? Driven By New Urban Imperatives Of Climate And Resilience

Given the unprecedented challenges of a new ‘Urban Age’ (Gleeson 2012), including climate change, hypertrophic urban growth, and globalization, cities are exploring new and radically different policies that address their increasing vulnerability to an array of shocks and stresses.

In times of uncertain national policy and shifting global markets, a new frontier of city leadership has emerged that actively embraces experimentation as a new model of city governance. Here, experimentation is understood as the emergence of new forms of institutional innovation manifesting through experiments linked to the global processes of shifting public/private authority and the restructuring of local government (Bulkeley and Castan Broto 2012). Such governance is by default tentative, emergent and ‘in the making’.

Typically, the new governance draws on global city networks, facilitating collaboration and shared learning among city governments. City networks have proven to be relevant to the spread of new discourses and result in a more radical form of urban politics, witnessed in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and 100 Resilient Cities (Davidson & Gleeson 2017; Acuto & Rayner 2016; Bouteligier 2012).

C40 incorporates the most globally influential and economically powerful mayors, representing global megacities. C40 has mobilized more than 10,000 climate actions through its 90 members since 2005 (C40 2015). 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) — is dedicated to helping cities take a systems approach to building urban resilience. Even though global city networks are gaining momentum and influence (Barber, 2017) it remains unclear how shared learnings, knowledge exchange and collaboration in global city networks inform the institutionalisation (i.e. adoption and mainstreaming) of new forms of city governance (Acuto & Morissette 2017; Acuto & Rayner 2016; Davidson & Gleeson 2017).

Perhaps tellingly, these new city governance forms manifest in a time when traditional city planning and governance structures are in question and experiencing in many contexts paralysis and uncertainty.  A core question is whether they can renew embedded and historical urban institutions and their policy.

Melbourne provides an excellent pilot for insights into the possible formation of new global city governance as it is one of the top 10 most networked cities globally and the only Australian city in the ranking. In total, Melbourne participates in 15 active single-issue city networks, i.e., environment, peace, climate change, age-friendly, historical and cultural. (Acuto et al. 2017).

Our current research will provide insights into whether Melbourne is experiencing a new global city governance, how this is constituted through collaboration in global city networks and how learnings are translated across the highly varied metropolitan contexts within global cities, particularly Australian cities lacking metropolitan government (Gleeson et al 2012).

This study, New Socio-ecological Imperatives for Cities: Possibilities and Dilemmas for Australian Metropolitan Governance was recently published in the journal Urban Policy and Research.

About The Author

KD
Kathryn Davidson

Kathryn is a research scientist at the University of Melbourne.

Brendan Gleeson

Brendan Gleeson joined Melbourne University in January 2012 as Professor of Urban Policy Studies and then took on the directorship of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute in early 2013.

Professor Gleeson came from the position of Deputy Director of the National University of Ireland’s National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis. Prior to that he set up the Urban Research Program at Griffith University and was its inaugural Director.

Professor Gleeson has made significant scholarly contributions in urban and social policy, environmental theory and policy, and is a regular commentator in newspapers, television and radio. He has qualifications in geography and urban planning, including a masters degree from the University of Southern California and a PhD from the University of Melbourne. Professor Gleeson is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.

He is the author or editor of twelve books, three of which have won national and international prizes, and numerous journal articles. His research interests include urban planning and governance, urban social policy, disability studies, and environmental theory and policy. His recent work has focused on socio-spatial analysis of suburbs, their vulnerability to oil shocks and the need for better public transport options.

Gleeson was the inaugural recipient of the John Iremonger Award for Writing on Public Issues (Allen & Unwin Publishers) leading to the publication of his seminal book Australian Heartlands: Making Space for Hope in the Suburbs.

Lars Coenen

Professor Lars Coenen joined MSSI in January 2017 as the inaugural ‘City of Melbourne Chair of Resilient Cities’, an initiative between the City of Melbourne and University of Melbourne aimed at improving the city’s resilience to sustainability challenges. Lars seeks to strengthen Melbourne’s role as a leader in knowledge based urban resilience and leverage opportunities for collaborative research between universities and cities.

Lars is an interdisciplinary scholar cross-cutting the fields of innovation studies and economic geography. He is well-known internationally for his work on regional and urban innovation and, more recently, for his pioneering research on the geography of environmental innovation and sustainability transitions. His research interests converge around the geography of innovation: where does innovation happen and why there? What makes cities and regions innovative and to what purpose? What is the role of policy to foster place-based sustainable development and innovation?

His work has been published in leading international journals such as Research Policy, Environment and Planning A and Economic Geography. He is well-known for pioneering research on the geography of sustainability transitions. His paper ‘Environmental Innovation and Sustainability Transitions in Regional Studies’ has been awarded the 2013 best paper award in Regional Studies (co-authored with Bernhard Truffer). In 2017 he co-edited the book ‘Urban Sustainability Transitions’, as part of the Routledge Studies in Sustainability Transitions. He has extensive experience in securing external funding and collaboration in national and international research projects financed by the likes of JPU Urban Europe, European Framework 7 Program and Nordic Energy Research.

Lars is currently working on action-research that analyses the implementation of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy and on the development of a smart specialisation strategy to grow regional resilience in Gippsland.