City Networks and Paradiplomacy as Global Public Policy
Abstract and Keywords
Mayors, local legislators, governors and other subnational elected officials have traditionally engaged in paradiplomatic international activities for their own trade promotion and economic development through city-to-city exchanges, business study groups, and youth exchanges. With urbanization and the decentralization of political and administrative structures along with a deepening liberal order, there is a new uprising of city actors pursuing paradiplomacy. Defined as local activities that have a global public policy impact, they include, for example, subnational actors’ involvement in climate change and other environmental issues affecting cities. Subnational global engagement can challenge national diplomatic efforts, while at the same time may also increase the administrative and management burden of cities. This chapter provides a historical and conceptual frame for understanding the rise of subnational actors in global policy, their main motivation and functional roles, and involvement in associations within national governments, subnational politics, and international organizations.
Mayors, local legislators, governors, and other subnational elected officials have traditionally engaged in international activities for their own trade promotion and economic development through city-to-city exchanges, business study groups, and youth exchanges. These city-to-city exchanges are referred to as paradiplomacy. Paradiplomacy may mean simply a national-level foreign ministry working with ministries of cities or perhaps the mayors, local legislators, and city officials providing exchanges for the benefit of their local communities. It may also include the use of international organizations as interlocutors of the policy processes propelled by local public action.
This chapter focuses on two major public problems that have galvanized a new global agenda for city-level paradiplomacy activities: urbanization and the localization of global problems such as climate change. While our global population has moved rapidly into cities, the city has increasingly become a contested local and global space for multiple public problems. This requires local governments to present solutions both on a local and global scale.
One global policy issue that has stimulated public attention is climate change. Recent evidence suggests that cities are a major source of pollution. Cities are estimated to consume 60–80 per cent of global energy production, which represents an equivalent amount of global carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas emissions from the use of electricity, heating and industrial fuel, industrial processes, ground transportation, aviation, and solid waste (Bouteligier, 2013; Hammer, 2011; Merk et al., 2012). With these alarming statistics, scholars and policy makers have reflected concerns about how these numbers will affect the societal well-being of city dwellers. One resolve is to (p. 130) engage subnational actors, and in particular, subnational urban governmental and non- governmental actors in global public policy processes.
In addition to climate change, many global public policy problems have local parallels such as crime, arts, health, and social welfare. Increased crime rates for city dwellers, for example, have become an immediate threat. This includes terrorist attacks in cities like Berlin, London, Nice, and Boston (Barber, 2013). For some policy specialists, the highest cause of concern is inequality within cities along with the poverty and social injustices born in displaced urban blight (Harvey, 1973). To combat these issues, the United Nations has encouraged a ‘rights-based agenda’ for cities in which scholars, international organizations, mayors, and local authorities consider cities and their local governments as places to revitalise local and global policy action (United Nations, 2014).
Subnational global engagement can influence and change national diplomatic efforts while also increasing the administrative and management burden on cities. A city’s global paradiplomatic business is frequently conducted through global networks such as the World Conference of Mayors, or Cities Alliance, or more recently via topic-specific networks such the work of C40 and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) on climate change and resilience. With the institutionalization of these international networks, efforts to increase a city’s internal capacity to implement and manage global policies have also risen.
When urban, international relations, and public administration scholars discuss the increased global relevance of subnational actors like mayors and local authorities, they also bring in issues of representative democracy and question how urban development could be used to reduce inequality within and between the developed and the developing countries. As John Dewey (1927) notably wrote, ‘the public and its problems’ is a matter that applies to both the city and national and global governance (Davis 2006). Cities have become a global focus point, not only to highlight the acuteness of public policy problems, but also for providing additional sets of global actors to resolve these obstacles.
Cities represent both a new place and paradigm for improving transnational problems. Accordingly, this chapter focuses on the rise of subnational actors in global policy making, their main functions, and associations within national government and international organizations. The chapter will also provide an overview of the theory of multi-level governance and present the concept of ‘paradiplomacy’ as a new analytical lens to address these engagements and to describe the increased participation of city networks within global policy and transnational administration. The chapter will conclude with the opportunities and drawbacks of the global subnational engagements and present prospects for further research.
8.2. Defining the Space: Sub-Sovereign Actors and Networks
Sub-sovereign actors are a diverse category. They include individuals—such as mayors, local authorities, municipal bureaucrats, state governors, and local representatives—or (p. 131) groups—whether they work within interest groups, professional associations, or for lobbyists for local or state governments. In addition to specific institutions, such as international units in city governments, there are also local business leaders, civil society leaders, trade representatives, and others who are engaged in international trade promotion and economic development as explained further in the chapter.
Networks are also a large part of paradiplomacy and they have evolved in three stages. Sister Cities International was one of the first civil society organizations to create institutional linkages between city counterparts around the globe and now has over 2,000 members in 136 countries. The organization was founded in 1956 to build city-to-city exchanges, business study groups and youth exchanges, arts exchanges, and the like. Most major airports, city portals, and bridges have signage that identifies which global cities partner with the home city. Another early organization is the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), a US-based organization that has evolved into global action. First established in Washington, DC in 1914 to network and promote the effective work of local governments in the United States, ICMA now has an international affairs office and associates its work to sharing public management techniques internationally.
A second group of global networks includes the World Conference of Mayors (WCM), and also Metropolis as well as the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). Perhaps the oldest of these initiatives, the World Conference of Mayors was created in 1984 as a non-profit, non-political worldwide conference comprised of mayors, former mayors, and other elected and appointed local public officials. Metropolis (the World Association of Major Metropolitan governments) was created in 1985 to work exclusively with large cities around the globe. This organization manages the city-to-city exchanges of large metropolitan regional areas. A newer group, the UCLG network, was created in 2004 by over 2,000 cities and 112 national governments to promote networking of local government actions. Today, UCLG has over 24,000 towns, cities and county governments working together to drive policy. Each organization generally operates in a similar fashion. Members are individual actors, local bureaucrats, mayors, or governors who join to unify forces on specific policy areas. Sometimes these local officials act alone, other times they have support from their communities. For example, WCM and UCLG create city-to-city exchanges on a wide range of topics.
The third driver of city-to-city action was pushed by international organizations for precise global policy issues such as climate change, cross-border crime, trade, arts, and cultural exchange among others. These newer, sector-specific global networks have formed, for example, around climate change and energy efficiency such as the C40 and the Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). The C40 network, created in 2005 in New York, comprises sixty-three global cities and is one of the most visible, with the former mayor of New York City as President. Based in Bonn, Germany, ICLEI’s network includes over 1,000 municipalities and associations from eighty-four countries. ICLEI was established in 1990 to link cities, the environment, and the UN-led 1992 Conference on the Environment. ICLEI has worked since 1992 to focus on Rio’s encouragement of ‘Local Agenda 21’ statements. ICLEI provides climate change and energy efficiency (p. 132) advocacy and is a major civil society actor helping to monitor the actions and compliance of cities that are engaged in global agreements related to climate change.
As individual city programmes have had a significant impact on trade missions, student exchanges, and other diplomatic efforts, some national governments have tried to capitalize on such local successes. Several national governments have opened offices where state legislatures, mayors, and local authorities can report activities and potentially, liaise with other cities elsewhere in the world. For example, Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Itamaraty, liaises with its Ministry of Cities, Ministério das Cidades, over international cooperation. In 2012, the ministries invited several city governments in Latin America to visit Brazil to learn about how to build energy-efficient housing (Changemakers, 2012). In another example, the Mexican government has reorganized its foreign aid office, Agencia Mexicana de Cooperación para el Desarrollo (AMEXCID), to capture state and local assistance abroad. The office seeks to collect information when Mexican state and municipal government officials go on foreign missions, especially in Central America and the Caribbean, for its global reporting. Even the US Department of State has taken diplomatic missions by subnational governments into account by establishing in 2010 the Office of the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs. The office reports directly to the Secretary of State, and its mission is to work with state and local leaders within the United States to reach their counterparts abroad.
Within international organizations, several key offices have leveraged ministries and regional development offices to perform paradiplomacy. For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) opened its Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development in which the office offered consulting services to cities in its members’ states (OECD 2009). These efforts came at a time when regional and urban development was cited as the new geography of economic growth (Rodríguez-Pose and Sánchez-Reaza, 2005). The Directorate works with cities to manage and promulgate the clean and fair growth agenda within the countries of the OECD.
The World Bank followed suit with its 2009 annual report ‘Reshaping Economic Geography’ (World Bank 2009). Just before the World Bank reorganized in 2012, the urban development office analysed housing standards within slums and settlements, helped improve credit for purchasing homes and studied the impact of small- to medium-sized business investments for subnational growth (Feiock, Moon, and Park, 2008). Often its policy targets utilized theories of local economic development (Blakely and Bradshaw, 2002). Today, World Bank policies for understanding poverty alleviation are not viewed exclusively through the engines of growth in cities, but also by examining urban–rural linkages and the pockets of extreme poverty within developing nations.
Within the United Nations, UN-Habitat’s work stands out as the first to focus on improving living standards for individuals through their homes and settlements. By identifying urbanization as a new global challenge, they work with cities and national-level ministries. These cities and ministries, in turn, become local or national governmental actors with global duties (see Legrand, this volume; see also Raadschelders and (p. 133) Verheijen, this volume). For example, in the United States, the Office of Housing and Urban Development helps propagate the UN Habitat’s global agenda by organizing public events and funding countries’ exchange activities to share experiences about renters’ policies, how to create mortgage banks, and encourage home ownership. The Ministry of Cities in Brazil was yet another national ministry that promoted the use of credit for the poor to construct houses, as well as to encourage cities to build recreational facilities and public spaces for their residents.
Leveraged by its local members, Cities Alliance has become a hybrid international organization. As a ‘global policy partnership’ initially created through trust funds funded by Nordic countries at the World Bank, Cities Alliance operates differently from the above networks, given that it has its own funding base and secretariat along with considerable autonomy to set its own global agenda to promote high-quality and equitable settlements for people in the global South. Members of the Board include national level government agencies (e.g. Ghana’s Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development or Switzerland’s State for Economic Affairs); international aid offices (e.g. the UK Department for International Development); non-profit organizations (e.g. UCLG, ICLEI and Shack/Slum Dwellers International); and international organizations (e.g. UN-Habitat and its Environment Programme).
Philanthropic organizations have also supported several initiatives. The Ford Foundation has been instrumental in leading the follow-up of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals with seventeen new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. To meet the 2030 goals, cities will need to be involved and engaged with this agenda. The Ford Foundation sought to strengthen cities’ involvement to promote the UN’s Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. Frequently known as the Quito Habitat III meeting held in 2016, the Ford Foundation has sought to build support among city leaders for the SDGs.
In summary, the multiple paradiplomatic actors include on the one hand, national-level foreign ministries that are working directly with the ministries of cities along with the mayors, local legislators, and cities officials who provide exchanges for the benefits of their local communities, as well as, on the other hand, numerous international organizations which promote growth and development from an urban, local, or regional perspective. Finally, there are global non-profit membership associations, or networks, and the philanthropic organizations who help link cities together to share information, to enact change, and to work together as a global lobbying body.
8.3. The Academic Development of Paradiplomacy
Schiavon (2006) suggests two reasons why state and local governments (or sub- sovereign actors) are engaging in international affairs more today than in the past. (p. 134) First, international agendas within national governments and international organizations have expanded to include topics such as trade, human rights, economic liberalization and other items that many local governments can respond to with local action (Kincaid, 1990). For example, local drug trade and organized crime can be managed by community policing but also by engaging neighbouring countries with shared borders. Recognizing this city-to-global linkage, domestic national agendas have responded by expanding their understanding of how local issues may have global impacts.
Second, an element of the structural adjustment programmes common to international finance institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was a recommendation for governments to decentralize political, administrative, and fiscal authority to lower-level governments. Through decentralization and the expansion of global discussions, more local actors were engaged by and have become incorporated into global agendas like climate change or poverty alleviation. This has led subnational governments to scale up their efforts to promote economic development, manage subnational debt allocations and encourage public participation (Smith and Revell, 2016). Countries as different as Indonesia, the Philippines, India, and Peru have all made efforts to decentralize. Subnational governments have increased their agency to promote and implement public policy at the local level and to translate their local activities to the global level. This dynamic is also reflected in the literature on multi-level governance.
The theory of multi-level governance (MLG) helps conceptualize the international engagement of national and subnational public policies (Hooghe and Marks, 2003; see also Ladi, this volume). Local government engagement is the result of a ‘centrifugal process in which decision-making is spun away from member states in two directions’, namely to the subnational as well as the supranational levels (Marks, 1993: 401–2). This literature often focuses on how the European Union was created and operates with little reflection on how cities can also drive global agendas and do so without being members of a larger institutional form, such as a federation or a group of nation states. To understand the subnational level, researchers must explore how mayors and local authorities are networking and unifying to recreate our understanding of global public policy and transnational administration.
Scholars since the 1990s have studied the difference between federalism and MLG. Whereas federalism and comparative federalist systems have a layered government effect with one government leading as a higher-level authority—such as a central government that dictates policy as the sovereign authority—MLG does not necessarily require an authority at the nation-state level. Theories of MLG may also incorporate the interactions of networks and various forms of governance within the structure of government.
To distinguish between typical governance arrangements and MLG, Hooghe and Marks (2003) created two categories. Type I MLG is a typical federal system with hierarchical governments, limited jurisdictional levels, and a quasi-permanent jurisdictional system of governance. By contrast, Type II MLG suggests a need for flexible task-specific jurisdictions without regard to traditional territorial spaces or levels of (p. 135) government (Hooghe and Marks, 2003). By using this MLG definition, paradiplomacy may be characterized as a type II MLG because it encourages the use of networks to link groups of governments, non-profit organizations, and intragovernmental organizations to work together. Paradiplomatic activities may impact a broader policy arena than originally conceived in multi-level governance theory. This is mostly because it combines the two types of MLG together and is based on the benefits of a territorial space while at the same time linking actions of networks and other governmental and non- governmental policies together to impact global public policy (Alcantara, Broschek, and Nelles, 2015).
The paradiplomacy concept was first coined by Panayiotis Soldatos and Ivo Duchacek (Michelmann and Soldatos 1990). Paradiplomacy emphasizes how sub-sovereign actors are also capable of driving the global policy agenda and thus allows space for the entry of subnational actors into international diplomacy (Dickson, 2014; Kuznetsov, 2015; Duchacek, 1990). It is driven by the specific needs that cities may have, but also by the policy responses they provide. For example, how cities can treat climate change with adaptation policies, such as with regulatory policies to increase density within urban centres and to provide financing for infrastructure improvements of public transportation for local residents (Ramirez de la Cruz and Smith, 2016). Each is a specific local response to a global problem.
Further scholarly development and engagement of the paradiplomacy concept occurred via the ‘world city’ hypothesis (Castells, 1977; Friedmann, 1986; Harvey, 1973). This hypothesis connects the historical movement of industrial capitalism of cities to modern International Relations theory. This presents cities as a modern link between the post-Fordist (e.g. assembly line) economy of mass production and post-war capitalism to a localized, deindustrialized era in which cities are centres of economic growth and creativity (Florida, 2003). Cities today are an important element of national and international economic development as they are the location of a majority of human and economic life.
Sassen (2006) and Hall (2001) have suggested that cities are influential subnational actors of the state who can build, enhance, and strengthen international diplomacy. Sassen’s concept of the ‘global city’ is one where business elites travel from major city hubs such as in Mumbai, London, or New York without viewing a differentiated urbanization from one place to another, at least at an elite level. For example, the offices and working practices of large multinational consulting firms look similar from one country office to the next (see Morgan, Sturdy, and Frankel, this volume) and thus, attest to a unified global corporate culture that is relatively consistent around the globe. Likewise, transnational policy elites may criss-cross city locations as they move from a World Economic Forum, G20 summit, or some other global network dialogue while experiencing the same high-level delivery of professional infrastructure and support in each venue. Similarly, local public authorities, state legislatures, and bureaucrats working in metropolitan governments within these global cities may mirror the practices of non-state actors like global consultant firms by creating their own international networks of sub-sovereign state actors engaged in global public policy and transnational administration.
(p. 136) The dynamics of paradiplomacy allow new actors to engage in traditional tasks previously only performed by national governments and their designated representatives. This was first highlighted by development economists at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) who observed significant population increases in their analyses of megacities, megalopolises, and mega slums to demonstrate the importance of city size, location, and development and its effects on the environment, society, and the global economy (Lubell et al., 2009). For them, megacities are large cities, typically with a populations of over ten million people. Megalopolises are heavily populated cities or urban complexes that string many populated areas together, like the valley of Mexico, with Mexico City and Toluca in the State of Mexico. Mega slums have high unemployment, endemic poverty, and chronic low-level violence and crime like the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya.
When city actors work together to confront global problems, they create independent synergies that are different from national and international policy agendas. Paradiplomacy comes from individual cities and initiatives between local governments and consequently there is no natural venue or location for transnational administration, and often these activities may have little oversight by global watchdogs or by individual citizens that live in cities active in this type of global engagement. Furthermore, we cannot assume that certain ‘developed’ cities—for example, Geneva, New York, Tokyo, or Singapore—are not necessarily better at paradiplomacy than less developed cities such as Nairobi or Quito. Nor should we assume that large cities are better resourced for paradiplomacy than smaller cities. Thus implicit in this description is an analysis of inequality between the cities and their impact on global public policies. In this regard, New York is not inherently more of a ‘global city’ than Singapore, which is often depicted as both a state and a ‘regional hub’ in the ‘world city’ hypothesis. Instead, paradiplomacy perspectives include or equally valorize what Paris and Mexico City do for UCLG, for example, as being on similar footing to what Little Rock, Arkansas does as a member of ICLEI. What matters is the individual efforts by these local communities to drive policy responses to global problems. This allows the paradiplomacy concept to be different from a ‘world city’ hypothesis, as the former does not require hierarchy or categorization for actions made by local governments
The ‘para’ prefix in ‘paradiplomacy’ means a parallel diplomacy; the subnational actor in foreign policy imitates national government action when representing the state. Nevertheless, subnational actors can also choose to be unaligned to their national government policy preferences and to chart a unique paradiplomatic course. Examples include Porto Alegre’s participative budgeting and Curitiba’s successful rapid bus transport innovation as examples for other cities such as Seoul, Tokyo, and Bogotá that formed the basis of city-to-city exchanges. These initiatives may also be classified as policy transfer and diffusion (such as the bus-rapid transit systems first used in Curitiba, Brazil, which have now been implemented in cities from Medellin, Colombia to Seoul, South Korea) or, more often, as simply sharing knowledge about effective ways to govern with counterpart municipalities.
Another example of paradiplomacy is Rio de Janeiro’s ever-more active involvement in global events, from hosting the 2010 UN-Habitat World Urban Forum and the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to events like the 2014 World (p. 137) Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Rio’s global engagement was inspired by its efforts to lead and inspire other cities to engage in paradiplomacy. Furthermore, the UN’s Habitat III 2016 global meeting in Quito was a way to encourage subnational actors to engage in public policy making to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. This is a further realization of paradiplomacy because the international organizations are requesting that local governments be the implementers of global public policy (Graute, 2016). Although there is no specific SDG related to cities, it is clear that much of the 2030 agenda must be implemented by subnational actors and that cities must be stimulated to participate along with the signatory national governments.
In terms of subnational engagements and treaties and their legality (Tushnet, 2000), scholars have concluded that treaties signed by national governments are the only ones that are legally binding (Bursens and Deforche, no date; Blindenbacher and Koller, 2002; Tatham, 2013). For example, signing a financial agreement with the World Bank or International Monetary Fund may only be done by member states. Cities are not member states of international governmental organizations. That does not mean that national governments may not sign on behalf of cities. They can. By contrast, in the United States as well as many developed nations, cities can access the capital markets, float bonds, and raise other monies separate and apart from their national government if allowed by the national legislation, although some academics are now putting into question who should regulate these subnational actors’ engagement with the international economy (Pagliari and Young, 2014; Pagliari, 2013). Mexico’s federal constitution, for example, does not allow subnational governments to join international capital markets (Smith and Benton, 2017). Instead, they have developed a local bond market to leverage institutional investments into sub-sovereign debt. These examples suggest that while cities may have limited legal capacity to agree to an international agreement, some national governments may allow their subnational actors to engage the global capital markets.
Case studies of city engagement converging with national governments address how subnational actors are engaging in trade policy and regional integration across boarder initiatives (Schiavon, 2004; Aldecoa and Keating, 1999). Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly’s (2012) research on the cross-border regions of the United States and Canada analyses where city authorities are taking the lead to resolve interstate conflict through day-to-day cooperation between these governments. Furthermore, in cases of conflict between the US and Canada, they may approach local actors to resolve a local commerce or trade conflict instead of the World Trade Organization. Rafael Velázquez Flores’ (2006) research on US–Mexico border cooperation via the Merida Initiative, which confronts narcotics trafficking, has shown how security forces of the United States federal, state, and local governments interact with similar entities in Mexico (Schiavon, 2004).
Other countries, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, have studied how local policies implement the distribution of local public goods like electricity storage, water conservation, or local sales taxes diverge from European Union interests (Bursens and Deforche, no date; Blindenbacher and Koller, 2002; Tatham, 2013). Cohn and Smith (1996) add regional integration between the Pacific-Northwest economic regions of the United (p. 138) States and western Canada to this literature. Attention is often directed to the high politics of separatist proposals such as Santa Cruz in Bolivia, the Basque Country, or Cataluña in Spain, or even secessionist threats from California and Texas in the United States. However, secession is a rarity. By contrast, slower and more prosaic processes of subnational integration across border communities have a long history, especially in Europe, such as the Euroregion for joint economic development through local and regional cooperation promoted by the Nordic Council, the Council of Europe, and the European Union (Svensson, 2018). Finally, the research of Sharafutdinova (2003) for Russia and Nganje (2014, 2016) for South Africa describes how subnational governments use paradiplomacy as a process model that contributes to the democratization of foreign policy, for example, which can used for peace-building activities (Klatt, and Wassenberg, 2017).
8.4. Mapping and Measuring City Paradiplomacy
The interdisciplinary nature of paradiplomacy research becomes important when seeking a common language to identify each paradiplomatic action and its effects. For example, the word city is a social construction of urban-conglomerated centres. When international organizations, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, or the OECD measure cities, they use the words ‘subnational governmental units’. These units are often referred to as states, and sometimes municipalities or both combined. This unit of analysis is not necessarily related to one highly densely populated central location such as a city, but could be various jurisdictions combined to be considered a subnational unit for analysis.
Policy makers are paying considerable attention to global city indicators and measuring city policy advancements. These measures help understand what types of actions paradiplomacy is confronting. The basic premise is to construct the comparability of cities’ quality, economic development, social well-being, and climate vulnerabilities, which together create a good definition of urban development. Many city mayors are willing to provide data about their cities in order to create baseline scales for measuring progress. City indicators abound, from the European Green City Index of the Global City Indicators Facility to hundreds of other indicators of sustainability.
Prominent authors such as Sassen (2006) and Taylor (2004) have worked to index global cities regarding economic development (Amen et al., 2011). More recently, the World Bank constructed the Global Cities Indicators Facility (GCIF) and the United Nations formed the Global Compact Cities Program (UNGCCP) to evaluate climate factors produced by cities (James et al., 2015). This is not to mention the hundreds of city indicator projects among civil society organizations across the United States or the real-time visualization of data in places such as Dublin and Rio de Janiero (Kitchin, Lauriault, and McArdle, 2015; NNIP, 2017).
(p. 139) Data limitations may also encourage scholars to use different values for cities and metropolitan areas. Political economists frequently use data that is divided at the municipal level and not at the city level thus admixing policy answers related to traditional questions of public policy and public administration with new issues related to the new economy (Sánchez Reaza and Rodríguez-Pose 2002; Smith and Benton, 2017). This is further confounded by the use of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States. For example, the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has defined 388 MSAs in the US as one or more adjacent counties or county equivalents that have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000. The European equivalent for measuring urban agglomeration comes from the European Union project on ‘Study on Urban Functions’ (ESPON), Eurostat. These metropolitan regions are measured as NUTS 3 regions or a combination of NUTS 3 regions (NUTS—Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) which represent all agglomerations of at least 250,000 inhabitants. Additional measures come from the United Nations and the OECD’s territorial development programme.
These measures differ in different ways. First, in how researchers define the size of the metropolitan area and, second, in how they use this definition to draw implications about how capacity is enabled; for example, how fiscal capacity is measured in the tax authority of local governments. This is because the measurement criteria of European cities are different from the United States. Moreover, and the given the difficulty of data availability in developing country cities such as Nairobi or Sao Paolo, international organizations may measure fiscal decentralization by combining state and local governments to create a subnational unit of analysis. This mode of categorization would thus eliminate the wide variation of subnational governments such as are seen, for example, in the United States, which consists of fifty states, and more than 89,000 local governments that include general-purpose governments, 36,000 municipalities and the 3,036 county governments (Wooldridge and Smith, 2017; Miller, 1981).
Projects to create uniform indicators create a good reference and framework for mapping how city officials are engaged and rank among their peers. The indicators also become a tool of public administration to engage in the process of paradiplomacy. Cities in the United States, for example, have adopted this public administration tool to evaluate their unique development and create a base line for citizens’ actions within the United States and abroad.
8.5. Paradiplomacy: Accountability, Challenges, and Opportunity
Unexpected consequences may result when national and international organizations mobilize domestic civil societies, local governments, or regional associations to capitalize on city-to-city exchanges. Positive externalities of paradiplomacy already (p. 140) outlined above may be broken into three subthemes—the diverse ways in which cities influence foreign policy, the multiple dimensions of urban policy development, and the methods of defining and measuring a city’s global impact. Much of this action has been proposed by global civil society organizations created through membership of individual cities, but also by citizens within communities wanting to make global change. Ultimately, these individual and group actions have helped to describe why and how paradiplomacy has unfolded globally. Unexpected consequences include negative externalities when global public exchanges are not creating optimal global public goods.
Less analysed are the possibilities of negative externalities, inequality, and information asymmetries creating from conflict between parties, levels of government, and among governments. There is a potential ‘race to the bottom’ effect when different economic realities may address a particular global policy issue. In addition, conflict and division are conceivable especially between the coalitions of the willing, and those cities, countries or regions unwilling to join in the same cause. Finally, transparency and accountability concerns stem from these global policy efforts.
There are cases where national governments can leverage local politics to influence global efforts. One case comes from the 2009 Copenhagen Accords when the United States would not sign on to the Climate Protocol also known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Several ICLEI members who were also local government authorities in the United States lobbied the international body to have their local government climate adoption activities taken into account as initiatives separate and apart from the US federal government. These local activities prompted the US Department of State to share how states and local governments were tackling climate change through local adaptation measures with their Chinese counterparts. This helped resolve the stalemate between China and the United States in their efforts to ratify the global climate agreement (The Guardian, 2016). This strategy led the United States to ask their local governments to sum up their actions to curb climate change. This effort changed the dialogue from what national governments were unable to do within an international body to what actions are undertaken at the subnational level (UCLEI, 2017).
In other words, global networks of local actors can create coalitions of the willing to change national and international policy. These networks can create a balance of power whereby the local actors are stronger than their national counterparts on certain issues. This phenomenon is especially true in the developing world. The global competition for lowering greenhouse gas emission can also create a race to the bottom effect as noted in federalist studies (Davies and Vadlamannati, 2013, Volden, 2002). That is, when one city strives to improve, the efforts of others may be reduced (because of incentives to ‘free ride’), thus creating high global disparities for whoever enforces the virtuous mitigation and adaptation strategies. An example of this is the ‘competition’ between which city has the worst air quality: Beijing, New Delhi, and Mexico City are notorious for poor air quality and exchange positions each year for the lowest ranking (Kornei, 2017).
(p. 141) Information asymmetries and inequality may also be amplified when partisanship plays a role in whether or not a city or particular level of government adopts particular policy outcomes. Mexico City’s interaction within federal, state and local levels of government is a case in point. Where there are differences between political party leaders at the national and lower levels of government, policy challenges increase substantially. Since Mexico City held its first mayoral election in 1997, left-leaning Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) leaders have led the city while the right-leaning National Action Party (PAN) has led the national government since democratization in 2000. Only recently, the once corporatist state and hegemonic Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) returned to the win the presidency in 2012. Policy clashes have arisen between the PRD-controlled city and the nation-controlled government. This is especially important given that over a third of the country’s GDP comes from the valley of Mexico. If Mexico City grows so does Mexico, thus creating a huge interdependence of the mega cities on the development of the Mexican economy.
Finally, transparency and accountability of these actors are very important (Fukuyama, 2013; Busuioc and Lodge, 2016). For example, when paradiplomacy was first discussed by UN-Habitat, the organization adopted the mantra of the ‘Right to the City,’ which was first proposed by Henri Lefebvre in his 1968 book, Le Droit à la Ville. Lefebvre’s study explored how social movements could push local policy agendas and work to improve urban spaces. The book inspired many local social movements, as well as NGOs working in urban spaces, especially in Brazil, where cities present some of the highest inequalities of public service delivery in terms of employment status, economic benefits, housing, and basic water and sanitation (Donaghy, 2013). Yet, this newfound understanding of the city has not always translated into more social pressure and, arguably, has not always been followed by the political establishment or nationally coordinated effort to create formidable public policy. The lack of engagement by civil society actors within cities might also alter what is or is not possible for cities through paradiplomacy.
This oversight of subnational action is challenging the paradiplomacy agenda. While some civil society actors, as in the case of Brazil, are pressuring nation states to do more, other social movements pressure nation states to do less. For example, the Agenda 21 initiative (arising out of the 1992 UN Conference for the Environment) has created a global social movement to drive civic action to adopt the UN’s 2030 agenda. However, some nationalist groups in the United States and France have called into question the nature of such global action, preferring regionalism or local development to global action (Galuszka, 2012).
Although paradiplomacy began as individual city-to-city exchanges, it has managed to expand into sophisticated global networks of local governments, and to transcend the global agenda-setting issues disseminated by international organizations. These trends have led to increased global activism, notably by three types of organizational structures: (i) civil society lead groups like ICLEI; (ii) mayor and elected leaders who are members of organizations such as UCLG; and (iii) international organizations like UN Habitat with specific missions to propel a global mission on an (p. 142) international agenda. These trends create expectations around how to build accountability into city activism, whether it is a global organization or an individual local government.
Nevertheless, when cities want to ‘rule the world’ (Barber, 2013) they will not necessarily abide or coordinate with the nation state’s economic, fiscal, and monetary policies. Promoting trade between global cities might also widen a population’s welfare and income gaps and create other disparities among regional areas within national boundaries. This can create tension and possibly conflict especially in countries where there exist strong vertical and horizontal imbalances among federal, state, and local governments.
8.6. Future Research on Paradiplomacy
This chapter has outlined the potential for global public policy action and implementation via city-level public official efforts. However, there has been comparatively little attention given to the administrative structures of global megalopolises and their networks for global influence. There are approximately 125 multilateral arrangements among subnational governments (Tavares, 2016). Some are global like UCLG or UCLEI while others are regional like the Federation of Latin American Cities, Municipalities and Associations of Local Governments or even thematic like the European Forum for Urban Security. This network diversity has created ‘complex regimes’ whereby multiple civil society and subnational actors engage in global public policy (Held and Hale, 2011; Root, 2013). Through the analytic lens of paradiplomacy, global public policy and transnational administration scholars have an additional set of tools with which to reconsider and redefine the international engagements that many municipal governments now pursue. This includes tools that help describe how to manage the transformation of the city and its officials via international policy interactions and the development of its new global policy engagements.
What is still unclear is how cities’ international relations offices will strengthen the technical capacity and management roles of the typical local government in the developing world. This includes practical public management options for how cities could finance sustainable investments for instance in housing, water, electricity, urban planning, and transport. To date, New Public Management scholarship (e.g. Light, 1998 and Kettle, 2000) has given limited consideration to strengthening the capacity and management of subnational public actors. While global governance scholars may wish to study these groups (Held and Hale, 2011), little systematic study has emerged from public administration.
An important exception is Benjamin Barber’s 2013 book If Mayors Ruled the World. In his book, Barber proposed the creation of a global parliament of mayors to increase (p. 143) participation. With the arrival of new networks, we must investigate whether cities have the internal capacity to implement and manage global policies. Who will pay for the organization? What are their global impacts? Which cities, small and large, should be included? To whom should they report? Related questions include: How will the successful implementation (or not) of international public policy by subnational actors lead to stronger national governments and economies overall? Alternatively, will these actions just create greater disparities between national, state, and local governments?
One can, and perhaps should, question the intentions behind these cities’ actions. Are they nobly sharing best practices, such as bus rapid transport with one another, or are public officials seeking other lines of engagement? For example, could a developed country engage subnational actors to promote a policy or programme knowing that their national government disapproves? Are there instances in which a developing nation city would engage an international organization for support when it knowingly does not have the support of its national government? Perhaps the horizontal support of networks is implementing policies that may benefit the global interest and not national ones.
Paradiplomacy creates multiple avenues of research for scholars. Capturing how cities or other subnational actors and their associations or networks interact across geographies and levels of government to encourage solutions to global collective action problems is and should continue to be an important part of global and regional affairs. Paradiplomacy has become an everyday practice for many mayors, local government officials, and city bureaucrats at the ‘street-level’ of global public policy and transnational administration.
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