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Rethinking the ecosystem of international city networks

2019 - Challenges and opportunities


Agustí Fernández de Losada and Hannah Abdullah (coord.)


CIDOB - Barcelona Centre for International Affairs


Rethinking the ecosystem of international city networks

Cities have emerged as major players on the international scene in recent years. Yet, their ambition to project themselves internationally and to influence global agendas is not a new phenomenon. Cities have operated through organised networks for decades. The first international organisation of cities was the International Union of Local Authorities, created in 1913. Towards the end of the past century, the regional integration processes of the 1990s engendered a proliferation of city networks, especially in Europe but also in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In 2004, the founding of United Cities and Local Governments as a platform for international municipalism marked a turning point.

Today city networks play a growing role in defining and implementing some of the main global agendas. Their involvement in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, their success in adding a territorial dimension to the UN 2030 Agenda, and their participation in the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, are good examples of how city networks are making their voice heard. But the increasing importance attributed to urbanisation processes on international development agendas has also caused a reconfiguration of the ecosystem of city networks that brings with it both risks and opportunities.

This volume seeks to analyse the changing dynamics of the ecosystem of city networks, focusing on how the main platforms operate, what influence they have on global agendas, what services they provide and how they coordinate their efforts. By zooming in on the strategies networks have been developing to enhance their influence and make their operations more effective, the volume examines the added value they provide.






CIDOB - Barcelona Centre for International Affairs

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