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Cities Towards Global Climate Governance: How the Practices of City Diplomacy Foster Hybrid Multilateralism



One of the effects of globalization is the increasing number of transnational ties that central governments not only ceased to control but also ceased to participate in; therefore, in recent decades, cities have been increasingly motivated to respond to international issues and initiate various contacts with foreign economic, cultural, and political centres. This article examines practices of city diplomacy in light of the current climate crisis. Albeit cities could be in conflict with their central government, they are executing the global climate agenda. Nonetheless, how do we frame cities’ autonomous activities in the global governance agenda? The article seeks to determine whether the framework of hybrid multilateralism is the niche for cities to assume the role of the central government in defending common global values such as preservation of the environment when the state fails to do so. Based on a dataset consisting of various subnational initiatives responding to climate change, we suggest a remarkable growth in the pledges to the international climate agreements’ commitments involving many subnational actors. Through these pledges, cities enter the international negotiations with various partners under hybrid policy architecture. Cities hold an enormous potential to influence the global conversation on climate change agenda. Furthermore, we conclude that cities are taking on the states’ role in global issues when they identify the inadequacy of the central governments’ action. Their conflict position forces them to carry out autonomous activities and fosters the new phenomenon of hybrid multilateralism.
DOI : 10.14746/ps.2021.1.21
Przegląd Strategiczny 2021, Issue 14
University of Economics and Business, Prague, Czech Republic
Global complexity is an opening for the vertical disintegration of foreign policy-
making. A central government faces enormous pressure on international policy-making
and problem-solving where actors from the subnational level raise their voices (Wang,
2006; Barber, 2013). The ongoing process of globalization facilitates the involvement
of other actors who grasp the opportunity to contribute to the global agenda (Castells,
2005; Kuznetsov, 2015), integrates international society and reduces the salience of
borders; therefore, cities are recognized as internationally important centres of politi-
cal and economic power (Sassen, 2001; Acuto, 2010; Curtis, 2014; Rapoport, Acuto,
Grcheva, 2019; Amiri, Sevin, 2020). These new actors’ engagement creates a new
form of global diplomacy, especially throughout transnational networks, and shapes
a parallel to the traditional Westphalian system (Acuto, 2017; van der Pluijm, 2017;
Oosterlynck et al., 2019).
The paradox of the internationalization of nation-state foreign policy, which has
local implications, already appears in the literature (Hocking, 1993; Keating, 1999;
Sassen, 2004). The world scene has fragmented, and the spatiality has begun to lose
its importance, which some scholars refer to as a crisis of the nation-state concept
(Keohane, Nye, 1974; Giddens, 2000). Besides, the activism of city diplomacy is
not carried out exclusively by federal states or established democracies (Cornago,
2010: 17). It is argued that city diplomacy is the result of the decentralization of
international relations, where states cease to represent the only strong political enti-
ties, and cities represented by mayors increase their activity at the international level
(Van der Pluijm, 2007: 11; Curtis, 2014: 135; Tavares, 2016). In this context, cities
have become signicant players in international relations in recent years. However,
the question remains: how do we frame cities’ autonomous activities in the global
governance agenda?
1 This article was created within the IGA Grant Competition project “The Challenge of
Integration and Disintegration Tendencies and Processes Within Dierent Levels of Gov-
ernance“ n. F2/48/2020.
366 Nikola STRACHOVÁ
The multi-actorness in global governance has recently attracted the attention of
many scholars, which was particularly evident at the United Nations Framework Con-
vention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conferences. The steppingstone for the schol-
ars was the evolvement of less hierarchic institutional interaction, which occurred
during the climate governance arrangements (Betsill, Bulkeley, 2006; Bäckstrand,
2008; Andonova, Betsill, Bulkeley, 2009; Newell, Pattberg, 2012). Simultaneously the
multilevel governance was adopted as a framework even though it had been mostly
used as a descriptive tool for the European decision-making levels (Hooghe, Marks,
2001); however, “multilevel governance” is currently a widely accepted term for vari-
ous contacts among dierent actors from the governing scale. According to the above-
mentioned authors, the less hierarchical code of conduct thus legitimizes some of the
autonomous activities.
The Paris Agreement brought about a momentum for the non-state actors and for
the cities as well. The growing recognition of transnational city networks by national
governments scale up their opportunities to cope with climate change (Bäckstrand et
al., 2017). In this context, hybrid multilateralism, dened as cooperation among dier-
ent actors at dierent levels, provides links to multilateral negotiations and, together
with orchestration, represents a means to harness multiple actors’ disparate activities
toward common goals (Dryzek, 2017: 3). Through this linkage, subnational actors
demonstrate their crucial potential to address global issues (e.g., reducing GHG emis-
sions) and direct contribution to the fullment of the central governments’ climate
governance commitments. Furthermore, as Bäckstrand et al. dene it, the concept of
hybrid multilateralism is a “heuristic to capture this intensied interplay between state
and non-state actors in the new landscape of international climate cooperation” (2017:
Yet, the dichotomic position, especially of cities, is still under discussion. City
leaders are often asked to assume the executive role in adopted climate measures. At
the same time, their position is not precisely conceptualized and framed in climate
governance, and the same situation occurs within the nation-state. In other words,
“non-state actors are asked to cooperate with states to ensure best practice on monitor-
ing emission reductions; on the other, non-state actors are themselves asked to reduce
their emissions through voluntary commitments framed as complementary to state ac-
tion” (Bäckstrand et al., 2017: 13).
This article examines mostly neglected contradictory actions of cities pledging the
international climate commitments. Are the cities powerless regarding the contradic-
tory position with the central government, or do the hybrid arrangements push cities to
act unilaterally against climate change? In order to identify cities’ diplomatic practices
through which they enter the international environment under non-traditional chan-
nels, we observe their connection to global climate challenges after the withdrawal
of President Trump administration from the Paris Agreement. We then analysed the
dynamics of the major pledges to better understand the climate arrangements’ hybrid
The rst section gives an overview of the city diplomacy position in the IR theories.
The second chapter links hybrid multilateralism to the cities’ initiatives underlying the
specicity of the international climate arrangements. Finally, in the third section, we
Cities Towards Global Climate Governance: How the Practices of City Diplomacy... 367
analyse the practices which bind the cities to deliver the results from the commitments
through the pledges as a type of international interaction.
Firstly, research into cities’ practices in the framework of hybrid multilateralism
helps uncover their global governance potential. Secondly, the essence of the further
debate is to reveal whether cities’ diplomatic practices form new norms in global cli-
mate governance under the hybrid architecture.
City diplomacy and its reection in international relations theory could be consid-
ered as a new trend among scholars. From the constructivists’ position, the diplomacy
of sub-state units results from intersubjectivity, which shapes international relations.
The situational standpoint of individual actors is determined by social constructions
designed based on their interactions with other actors around the world. Thus, in con-
trast to the two grand theories, in this case, the opposite development occurs, namely
a development from the bottom up (Wendt, 1992). City diplomacy is perceived here as
an eort to build ones’ own identity. Cities can consequently reimagine their positions
in globalisation.
According to constructivists, international actors’ position in the global political
system cannot be generalized because it is determined by social constructions that are
created based on their interactions with other actors. However, without context, actors
lack the meaning given to them by social values and norms, among other things. Social
reality is objectied by human interactions, which gradually become a pattern. Such
repetitive patterns are institutionalized and shifted to a generally perceived reality and
objective knowledge (Pouliot, Cornut, 2004; Bueger, Gadinger, 2018). Still, this pro-
cess is also inuenced by the subjective creation of individual identities within each
individual and comes from the social space in which we interact (Utomo, 2019). Based
on the theses of Michel Foucault, who rejects the perception of power as a result of
the behaviour of one power centre but sees power as encompassing various state and
non-state actors whose used tools, required knowledge, and emotions create practices
that constitute a broader phenomenon of how cities engage in todays’ international re-
lations. Thanks to the approach of social constructivism, it will be possible to examine
the role of cities through the processes of their interaction and, at the same time, moni-
tor patterns of their behaviour in the international environment from the perspective of
diplomatic practices.
The speeding up of the globalization processes creates a new global society with
a global consciousness and a global ethic which “is being forced upon this generation
by new technological, ecological, and political realities” (Kirby et al., 1995). Cities, as
they become more and more involved in the global agenda and represent a signicant
part of civil society, tremble nation-state, especially regarding the climate crisis (Bet-
sill, Bulkeley, 2006). Cities impose limitations on nation-states by creating moral im-
peratives through the behaviour of their representatives. Signalling this behaviour with
their diplomatic practices, mostly through transnational platforms and networks, they
generate a shared global morality, in other words, “the assertion of universal norms
368 Nikola STRACHOVÁ
motivating activism that results in the formation of network structures which enable
subnational actors to mobilize resources to collectively create pressure on the national
government” (Leel, 2018: 3).
Recently, more attention has been focused on the constitutive eects of diplomatic
practices as meaningful social patterns (Neumann, 2012) on various areas of the glob-
al political system. What the actors do and how they do things create world politics
(Pouliot, Cornut, 2004). Bouteligier (2013) carefully summarized that norms, values,
and practices of governance could be produced and reproduced through city networks
and their collective action, capacity, and meaningful eect. According to the theory of
world society, norms and practices are disseminated through transnational organiza-
tions (Meyer, 2010). If the nation-state does not implement these norms and practices,
and central governments violate or fail to enforce them, the subnational actors will
independently take over (Shuman, 1986; Adger et al., 2009; Leel, 2018). Cities, by
their actions, often express the values of society. The increased activity of the cities
following the withdrawal of President Trump administration from the Paris Agreement
has led many of them to undertake a range of specic actions to clarify their position
toward and preparedness for the ght against climate change. This stand-alone city
demonstration resembles the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) initiative, which
began at the level of city mayors and, with signicant diplomatic pressure, managed to
put the issue on the international table (Leel, 2018).
Examining city diplomacy, we cannot neglect that city diplomacy strategies are
strongly inuenced by the mayors’ local contexts and political mindsets and their posi-
tions in the international environment where the global agenda is dealt with (Barber,
2013). Barber further argues that today state sovereignty is a handicap in managing
the global agenda and that cities are better prepared to respond to global challenges.
He believes that cities are an ideal choice for overcoming nationality and sovereignty
barriers and moving towards a cosmopolitan society. However, most of the city actions
are often characterized uncritically and without considering whether these actions af-
fect international politics or policy in any substantial capacity.
In the literature, we repeatedly nd the perception of more intense subnational di-
plomacy as a consequence of continuous neglecting by the central government (Hock-
ing, 1993, Keating, 1999; Criekemans, 2010; Cornago, 2010). Although, earlier diplo-
macy on the sub-national level was perceived as conicting only when sub-national
governments put in place initiatives and activities through which they aspired to es-
tablish themselves as governments of fully sovereign states (Aldecoa, Keating, 1999:
3; Tavares, 2016: 48). This secessionist presumption may apply to regions but not to
cities, for which the territory is not one of the most critical characteristics.
Relating to the legitimacy according to the second Nuremberg Principle, “the fact
that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under
international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsi-
bility under international law.” Cities, therefore, may feel compelled to act and help
enunciate, develop, and codify international norms that can be the basis for eective
international law (Shuman 1988: 2–4) and believe they have a duty to adhere to in-
ternational norms and laws. Failure to comply with obligations stemming from inter-
national climate agreements can without a doubt lead to a discrepancy between the
Cities Towards Global Climate Governance: How the Practices of City Diplomacy... 369
central government and the city. Non-recognition of the problem and non-compliance
with international standards by the central government strengthen the subnational ac-
tors’ related activities (Acuto, 2013; Leel, 2018).
Todays’ global connectivity helps in the sharing of norms and increases the power
of local actors and processes in initiating global interests and collective goals (Bet-
sill, Bulkeley, 2006). Globalization brings about a reconguration of territoriality and
sovereignty and the role of cities in making foreign policies (Curtis, 2016). City di-
plomacy is much more exible and less ceremonial and symbolic than traditional di-
plomacy; nevertheless, the decisions made on the local level dier from those adopted
on a national level in terms of proximity and the speed of their impact (Tavares, 2016:
Understanding cities’ policy-oriented or functionality-driven practices and how ac-
tors grasp and act in these specic situations allows for encompassing the whole pro-
cess of involvement of cities in global climate governance (Hickmann, 2015). Accord-
ing to Kern (2019) global climate governance has always been multilevel in structure.
Furthermore, other scholars put the city networks on the front of the battle with climate
change (Lee, 2013; Acuto, Rayner, 2016), and it is conclusive when quantifying cli-
mate change contributors. Cities consume over 67 per cent of the worlds’ energy and
emit 70 per cent of their carbon dioxide emissions (C40 cities, 2018); therefore, cities
were substantially motivated within the sustainable development process since the Rio
Summit in 1992 (ARUP report, 2011). This could be repeatedly observed during the
Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, where cities’ representatives presented their
vision in the Local Governments’ Declaration (Tavares, 2016: 126). However, we can
have doubts as to how seriously these initiatives were perceived.
The rising voices and the abundance of multilateral partnerships, which could not
be overlooked, emerged signicantly after the failure of the central governments to
comply with the international commitments. Cities are then undertaking the vindi-
cation of commitments which they perceive as crucial for the international climate
regime. The most obvious cases of this come from the US: when in 2001 President
George W. Bush declared that the United States would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol
(Kuyper et al., 2017) and, as already mentioned, the withdrawal of President Trump
administration from the Paris Agreement. These voluntary pledges and initiatives have
contributed to the evolvement of another international negotiations’ architecture and
form a parallel to the inadequate multilateral action (Jordan et al., 2015).
Prevailing system of global governance still revolves around territorial sovereignty
and transnational economic ties. Nonetheless, we are encountering a fusion of public
and private actors coming together in hybrid functional networks to nd solutions to
problems of collective action; as Curtis (2016) delineates, “these are forms of inter-
action that are horizontal, non-hierarchical, and embrace the bottom-up dynamics of
self-organization. The normative proposition is that they bypass vertical, hierarchical,
and centralized (statist) structures where power has so often ossied in the history
370 Nikola STRACHOVÁ
of the 21st century” (2016: 9). The international meetings provide a playground for
these interactions through their negotiations’ battleeld. The UNFCCC is one of the
vital multilateral conventions addressing climate change and the limitation of global
warming; it was signed in June 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and De-
velopment in Rio de Janeiro. This assemblage annually brings together UN member
states at the Parties Conference (COP) to advance the agenda for global climate change
mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.
The emerging debate about the extension of competencies in the vertical direction
was already observed during the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. Then, the global
climate governance slowly took a course to the changes of the interplay among parties
(Dryzek, 2017: 1). The 2009 COP 15 in Copenhagen is described by Bäckstrand and
Lövbrand (2015) as a turning point for global climate politics. The rise of numerous
kinds of climate governance arrangements unfolded from the bottom up and exceeding
the framework of international climate conferences; they have pointed to the hybrid
architecture of global climate governance (Betsill, Bulkeley, 2006; Toly, 2008; Bäck-
strand, 2008). Bäckstrand et al. (2017) refer to this progress as hybrid multilateralism
and connect it with the attempt to link established multilateral negotiations led by
supranational institutions with the non-state actors’ actions while not excluding the
central governments. However, it is not yet well described which of these links in the
intriguing area of the multilevel international climate regime we can include discuss-
ing cities.
A dierent governance structure that goes beyond the UNFCCC framework sprang
up from special events and platforms involving many types of actors and actions. Still,
hybrid multilateralism represents guidance on how this cooperation, where states and
other non-traditional, self-organizing governing bodies work together and develop
a parallel to global governance architecture that bypasses traditional hierarchical chan-
nels, should function (Bäckstrand, 2017).
Following the UNs’ obvious goal concerning cities – to enrol them in the climate
change battleeld, especially at a time when the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
had not carried through its commitments and the COP25 Climate Conference, which
took place in December 2019 in Madrid, had not moved forward, we can discern
the multiplication of hybrid initiatives such as, e.g., the current Race to Zero global
campaign. The climate crisis challenges a unilateralist approach to address its global
impacts. Climate change, ocean and air pollution, nuclear risk, biodiversity loss, all
these aspects of the climate crisis put pressure on streamlining global governance,
which involves signicantly more actors than merely states. Environmental policy
and how it is discussed, specically the rhetoric accepted by the representatives at
all levels, conceive a meaning and inuence the discourse around climate change
(Dryzek, 2017: 8).
When discussing the period before the Paris Agreement, which means the period
prior to 2015, the discourse spun mainly around whether subnational actors would be
involved in the climate agenda, while prevailing debate examines the practices and
conditions under which subnational actors contribute to global climate governance
(Bäckstrand, 2017). The Paris Agreement brought about a multilateral contract that
encompasses subnational actors in the eld of transnational governance in the process
Cities Towards Global Climate Governance: How the Practices of City Diplomacy... 371
of its creation (Dryzek, 2017). However, the failure of the negotiated Paris Agreement
was already indicated in 2017 by the withdrawal of the US. It revealed that central
governments’ policy goals might dier signicantly from those formulated by cities;
although, cities’ impact on the environment can be decisive (Lecour, 2002).
As far as the adoption of the Paris Agreement is voluntary, the US withdrawal
was perceived as a symbolic action towards the potential voters in President Trumps’
second presidential campaign, yet still as a signicant step backwards in the eort to
mitigate climate change (Leel, 2017). The US abdicating its leadership on climate
change was comprehended as a suggestive action from the central government. We can
put on the table the question to what extent this was simply a populistic and yet rhetori-
cal step that President Trump used to appeal to the strong industrial past of the US and
arouse nostalgia in the people, even though a report from the Ember (Graham, 2021),
an independent climate think-tank focusing on the global electricity transition, reveals
data that show a continuing decline in coal use and a growing share of renewables in
electricity consumption.
The most prosperous sub-national entity in the world, the government of Califor-
nia, previously engaged in the climate agenda as a direct result of its global leadership
in reducing air pollution. The Chinese government properly recognized California’s
authority on climate issues, and thus the governor of California, Jerry Brown, met
with China’s environmental protection minister, Zhou Shengxian, in Beijing in 2013
to discuss and sign a non-binding agreement to reduce smog and greenhouse gas emis-
sions. During the trip, China also requested the help of the experts at the California
Air Resources Board to address its urgent air pollution problem, which likewise paved
the way for the hybrid multilateral paradigm. Another agreement signed in September
2013 by California and Québec to link their carbon emissions allows them to regulate
emitters in both regions and to buy and sell carbon emissions allowances and osets
in either jurisdiction. These initiatives, on the other hand, are also used as channels to
communicate, inspire and recruit more participants to ll the federal leadership gap
(Tavares, 2016: 37).
Some could argue that these initiatives can be seen only in strong federative West-
ern democracies. Yet, in December 2019, the progressive capital cities of Slovakia,
Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, whose central governments oppose Euro-
pean Union policies on immigration and climate change, came together to create the
“Pact of Free Cities” (Foreign Policy, 2020). The message from the mayors was clear
and signalled they are sticking to the international commitment, even though it did not
correspond to the central governments’ positions. While no two cities are the same,
city diplomacy is coalescing around shared values such as partnership, cooperation,
and inclusion (Acuto, 2017). In other words, cities are gaining more “soft power” on
the international stage, even as they remain structurally powerless in the international
system of governance (Acuto, 2017). The impact of cities on climate change is the best
demonstration of a linkage between local and global that can go beyond the central
governments’ potential (Hale, 2018). Cities have begun to assert themselves and make
their voices heard, and in cases such as the New Urban Agenda adopted at the United
Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III),
they actually participate in the initial stage of the agenda-setting.
372 Nikola STRACHOVÁ
The transition to a zero-carbon economy has begun in almost every market in
the world. Despite the previous lack of leadership on climate change from the White
House, a growing number of American cities and companies (some of them repre-
senting the American dream – e.g., Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Levi Strauss & Co.)
have connected in the growing movement “We Are Still In,” intending to stick with
the principles of the Paris Agreement. This initiative has evolved into “America
Still In,” which is composed of 3,800 leaders across the 50 states of America, cross-
sectionally putting together a signicant amount of the US economy in the pursuit
of climate action.
Non-recognition of the problem and non-compliance with international commit-
ments and regulations by central governments leads to a strengthening of subnational
actors’ related activities. These practices of cities foster their position in the global
environment and enable the establishment of contacts that would otherwise be impos-
sible for the government. Such connections can lead to a level of cooperation which
national governments would never reach, as seen in California’s collaboration with
the Belt and Road Initiative representatives. This bypassing of the central government
strengthens the hybrid multilateralism, which allowed for mitigating the implications
of the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
The US Climate Alliance with over 250 cities has pledged to enforce the Paris
Agreement, thus opposing the US national government. Furthermore, the members
are committed to implementing policies that advance the Paris Agreements’ goals,
straightforwardly aiming to reduce GHG. On June 2, 2017 (just one day after President
Trumps’ announcement), Mayor de Blasio signed Executive Order 26, thus commit-
ting New York City to the Paris Agreements’ principles. Specically, New York has
committed itself to help keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
During Michael Bloombergs’ administration (2002 to 2013), the city showed tremen-
dous leadership in foreign aairs, mainly through the major city network for climate
change C40. Still, the ame somehow faded away when he stepped down.
The personalities of decision-makers can strongly inuence the determination of
subnational governments’ international policies. For example, statistical research con-
ducted on the rationales that lead US governors to conduct foreign aairs indicates that
governors’ personal interests seem to drive their involvement in international activities
(McMillan, 2008: 242). Likewise, city diplomacy strategies are strongly inuenced by
the local contexts, mayors’ political mindsets and their positions in the international
environment (Barber, 2013). However, these circumstances blur when it comes to the
hybrid arrangements.
The current Race to Zero global campaign run by the COP26 Presidency and
High-Level Climate Champions highlights the cooperation through the dierent
governance levels. The Cities Race to Zero eort emphasises the implementation of
inclusive and resilient climate action ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow through the
support of the prominent city networks (e.g., C40 Cities, the Global Covenant of
Mayors, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, UCLG - United Cities and
Local Governments).
Cities Towards Global Climate Governance: How the Practices of City Diplomacy... 373
The growing engagement in the global initiative, which goes outside national gov-
ernments, is mediated mainly through online platforms and social media. For instance,
hashtag #racetozero is constantly used by the UNFCC representatives, city ocials,
ministries of countries, corporates and even individuals to further promote the objec-
tives that aim to just and resilient zero-carbon recovery. The rising participation in this
global call is undeniable. Lastly, ve important Indian cities (Mumbai, Pune, Aurang-
abad, Nagpur and Nashik) pledged their commitments.
The ambitious goals and pledges are often critiqued for their merely rhetoric func-
tion. Hence, as Bäckstrand et al. (2017) brought up, participation does not necessarily
enhance eectiveness in climate change combat. Tackling evaluating, monitoring and
compliance, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a not-for-prot organisation, devel-
oped a system that provides data to UNs’ Global Climate Action Portal has strength-
ened data disclosure of cities as one of the crucial steps to climate action leadership.
Cities are included on the CDPs’ Cities A List which serves as a building block for
further promoting the best practices and lessons learned. Together with ICLEI, they
developed a CDP-ICLEI Unied Reporting System which the UNFCC supports.
According to Hickmann, the emergence of such a great variety of dierent climate
governance arrangements beyond the international climate regime has led to a signi-
cant increase in the institutional complexity of global climate governance (2015: 5).
Given that the hybrid multilateralism, institutionalised through the Paris Agreement
(Bäckstrand et al., 2017), enables expanding the ‘multi-level and multi-arena nature of
climate governance’ (Bulkeley, Newell, 2010: 13), we emphasise the informal chan-
nels used to pledge to undertake not merely international agreements’ commitments
but also expose the ambitions that are signicantly important for cities’ international
involvement. Furthermore, these informal channels interlinks allow encompassing cit-
ies and businesses of smaller scale and even individuals. However, the impact of the
aggregation of bottom-up pledges, supranational commitments, and states nationally
determined contributions (NDCs) is yet still behind to uncover.
As Bäckstrand et al. (2017) correctly pointed out, “the hybrid arrangements raise
questions about the critical capacity of non-state actors to hold states and intergovern-
mental actors to account for their (in)actions.” We argue that cities are taking on the
role of intermediaries of international goals when they are aware of the inadequacy of
the central governments’ action using informal channels to promote and justify their
commitments. Since we do not follow the complementary relationship assumption,
the cities’ conict position forces them to carry out their own autonomous activities,
fosters their international identity through hybrid multilateralism-though, the collabo-
ration of existing modes of operation thrown up many questions in need of further
Through city diplomacy, local activism has a global impact. This considerable rise
of cities’ initiatives in recent decades has resulted in the growing number of informal
arrangements that emphasize the multilateral hybrid structure of the international cli-
mate regime. Even with these apparent trends, though, states remain reluctant to cede
374 Nikola STRACHOVÁ
power over scal matters and specic policy decisions; however, the less hierarchical
code of conduct, evolving from the bottom-up participation in climate change gov-
ernance, legitimizes some of the autonomous activities relating specially to reducing
greenhouse gases, climate change mitigation, and decarbonization.
According to our research, the inadequacy of the central governments’ action to
full the international commitments speed up the cities’ involvement in the interna-
tional climate change agenda and nurture the emerging phenomenon of hybrid multi-
lateralism. At the same time, hybrid multilateralism unlocks cities the possibilities of
international exposure. Our analysis highlighted the informal channels as critical for
the cities to share common interests, act unilaterally against climate change, and fol-
low the responsibilities steam from the international climate arrangements.
Considering the cities’ actorness in global environmental governance, the question
remains, whether the climate change governance would more benet from the coher-
ence and continuity within the national level or contrary. Still, city diplomacy could be
an opportunity for central governments to remain international as the growing quantity
of transnational ties could be beyond the central governments’ capacity to attend.
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One of the eects of globalization is the increasing number of transnational ties that central
governments not only ceased to control but also ceased to participate in; therefore, in recent
decades, cities have been increasingly motivated to respond to international issues and initiate
various contacts with foreign economic, cultural, and political centres. This article examines
practices of city diplomacy in light of the current climate crisis. Albeit cities could be in conict
with their central government, they are executing the global climate agenda. Nonetheless, how
do we frame cities’ autonomous activities in the global governance agenda?
Cities Towards Global Climate Governance: How the Practices of City Diplomacy... 377
The article seeks to determine whether the framework of hybrid multilateralism is the niche
for cities to assume the role of the central government in defending common global values such
as preservation of the environment when the state fails to do so. Based on a dataset consisting of
various subnational initiatives responding to climate change, we suggest a remarkable growth in
the pledges to the international climate agreements’ commitments involving many subnational
actors. Through these pledges, cities enter the international negotiations with various partners
under hybrid policy architecture.
Cities hold an enormous potential to inuence the global conversation on climate change
agenda. Furthermore, we conclude that cities are taking on the states’ role in global issues when
they identify the inadequacy of the central governments’ action. Their conict position forces
them to carry out autonomous activities and fosters the new phenomenon of hybrid multilateral-
Keywords: hybrid multilateralism, city diplomacy, global governance, climate change
Jednym ze skutków globalizacji jest rosnąca liczba powiązań transnarodowych, w których
rządy centralne nie tylko przestały je kontrolować, ale i w których przestały uczestniczyć.
W związku z tym w ostatnich dziesięcioleciach miasta były coraz bardziej zmotywowane do
reagowania na problemy międzynarodowe i inicjowania różnorodnych kontaktów z zagranicz-
nymi ośrodkami gospodarczymi, kulturalnymi i politycznymi. W artykule przyjrzymy się prak-
tykom dyplomacji miejskiej w świetle obecnego kryzysu klimatycznego. Chociaż miasta mogą
być w konikcie z rządem centralnym, realizują globalną agendę klimatyczną. Niemniej jednak
powstaje pytanie, w jaki sposób umieścimy autonomiczne działania miast w agendzie global-
nego zarządzania?
Artykuł ma na celu ustalenie, czy ramy multilateralizmu hybrydowego są niszą dla miast,
które mogą przejąć rolę rządu centralnego w obronie wspólnych globalnych wartości, takich jak
ochrona środowiska, gdy nie robi tego państwo. Opierając się na zbiorze danych składających
się z różnych lokalnych inicjatyw reagujących na zmiany klimatu, sugerujemy znaczny wzrost
zobowiązań w zakresie zobowiązań międzynarodowych porozumień klimatycznych z udziałem
wielu podmiotów na szczeblu niższym niż krajowy. Dzięki tym zobowiązaniom miasta przy-
stępują do międzynarodowych negocjacji z różnymi partnerami w ramach hybrydowej archi-
tektury polityki.
Miasta mają ogromny potencjał wpływania na globalną dyskusję na temat agendy zmian
klimatycznych. Ponadto dochodzimy do wniosku, że miasta przejmują rolę państw w kwestiach
globalnych, gdy stwierdzają nieadekwatność działań rządów centralnych. Koniktowa pozycja
zmusza je do prowadzenia autonomicznych działań i sprzyja nowemu zjawisku hybrydowego
Słowa kluczowe: multilateralizm hybrydowy, dyplomacja miejska, globalne zarządzanie,
zmiana klimatu
Article submitted: 30.04.2021; article accepted: 19.07.2021.
... As Van der Pluijm and Melissen (2007, 11) stated, 'city diplomacy could be defined as the institutions and processes by which cities engage in relations with actors on an international political stage intending to represent themselves and their interests to one another.' Furthermore, local initiatives are on the rise, particularly once they are aware of the inadequacy of the central government's actions (Barber 2013;Acuto et al. 2017;Strachová 2021). Hooghe and Marks (2009) came to a similar conclusion that political conflict engages communal politicians and that politicization leads to changes in the decision-making process. ...
Even though many stakeholders generally acknowledge cities’ presence and growing importance in international relations, the impact of their autonomous foreign policy remains unclear. Despite prior observations of city diplomacy, knowledge of how intensively city diplomacy is interconnected with the foreign policy of central governments is vague. The article is therefore focused on the circumstances that push cities to undertake diplomatic action and the consequent implications for the Europeanization process of the region. The conclusions reveal that Thessaloniki city diplomacy leverages the Europeanization of the region and has the capacity to complement the Greek government’s foreign policy. The article also argues that the cross-border exposure of cities implies possibilities for further Europeanization of the region.
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The spread of transnational and global phenomena is putting under strain the state-centric bias crystalized, inter alia, in international law and in traditional forms of multilateralism. In this context, climate change can be considered as the transnational and global phenomenon par excellence, and for this reason it might be relevant to investigate over new forms of multilateralism enhancing the role played by NSAs and increasing the effectiveness of the global climate governance system. Accordingly, after duly addressing the literature on the issue at stake, this study has developed the concept of 'hybrid multilateral climate regime' (HMCR) and it has taken trace of its process of materialization with the aim of understanding to what extent does the HMCR emerging from the Paris Agreement has strengthen the role played by a particular category of NSAs (i.e., ENGOs) in the global system of climate governance.
This article is based on a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the academic literature on cultural diplomacy since its official inception during the midst of the Cold War, in 1959. It draws on mapping, chronology building, and thematic analysis of all scholarship published on cultural diplomacy in the Scopus database, the largest academic database in the world. The research explores how the discipline has evolved, what geographies and thematic areas it covered in the past, and what is the future of this discipline. These explorations start a conversation on cultural diplomacy as an independent academic discipline that most recently has gained a wider and stronger attention and reached a higher stage of scholarly maturity. This article is evidence that the research on CD is rapidly progressing with time, incorporating new thematic areas for exploration as well as covering wider cultural and political geographies. The research findings suggest further trajectories for the development of cultural diplomacy as an academic enquiry, focusing on different diplomatic channels, modes of operation, structures, actors, meanings, and implications.
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In this article, we outline the multifaceted roles played by non‐state actors within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and place this within the wider landscape of global climate governance. In doing so, we look at both the formation and aftermath of the 2015 Paris Agreement. We argue that the Paris Agreement cements an architecture of hybrid multilateralism that enables and constrains non‐state actor participation in global climate governance. We flesh out the constitutive features of hybrid multilateralism, enumerate the multiple positions non‐state actors may employ under these conditions, and contend that non‐state actors will play an increasingly important role in the post‐Paris era. To substantiate these claims, we assess these shifts and ask how non‐state actors may affect the legitimacy, justice, and effectiveness of the Paris Agreement. WIREs Clim Change 2018, 9:e497. doi: 10.1002/wcc.497 This article is categorized under: • Policy and Governance > Multilevel and Transnational Climate Change Governance
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Cities are increasingly capturing the attention of major international actors and now regularly feature in multilateral processes. Yet while there are many studies on networking among cities, there have been few studies of ‘city networks’ as formal and institutionalized governance structures facilitating city-to-city and city-to-other actors cooperation, or ‘city diplomacy’. Institutionalized networks of cities, while not new, are becoming a growing presence on the international scene, almost omnipresent and perhaps even too common. Might it be time for a ‘Darwinian’ selection between city networking options? Diving deeper into this networked challenge, this essay focuses on the effects this networked diplomacy and overlap it might have on cities. Drawing on a research collaboration between the UCL City Leadership Laboratory at University College London and the World Health Organization's Healthy Cities Network and both a global dataset of city networks as well as qualitative focus group data, we consider the growth of these governance structures, their strengths, but also the weaknesses associated with their rapid growth, and how cities can engage with this networked landscape more strategically. In short, we argue that the potential of city networks must go hand-in-hand with more integrative and strategic thinking at both local and international levels.
Cities such as New York, Tokyo and London are the centres of transnational corporate headquarters, of international finance, transnational institutions, and telecommunications. They are the dominant loci in the contemporary world economy, and the influence of a relatively small number of cities within world affairs has been a feature of the shift from an international to a more global economy which took place during the 1970s and 1980s. This book brings together the leading researchers in the field to write seventeen original essays which cover both the theoretical and practical issues involved. They examine the nature of world cities, and their demands as special places in need of specific urban policies; the relationship between world cities within global networks of economic flows; and the relationship between world city research and world-systems analysis and other theoretical frameworks.
This edited volume provides an inclusive explanation of what, why, and how cities interact with global counterparts as well as with nation states, non-governmental organizations, and foreign publics. The chapters present theoretical and analytical approaches to the study of city diplomacy as well as case studies to capture the nuances of the practice. By bringing together a diverse group of authors in terms of their geographic location, academic and practitioner backgrounds, the volume speaks to multiple disciplines, including diplomacy, political science, communication, sociology, marketing and tourism. Efe Sevin is an Assistant Professor in the Mass Communication Department of Towson University, Maryland, USA. Sohaela Amiri is Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS) Fellow at the RAND Corporation, USA.
This article explores the nature of city diplomacy using newly available archives chronicling the ‘municipal foreign policy movement’ of the 1980s, in which US city governments intervened directly in late Cold War foreign affairs issues. Cases covered include US city governments’ involvement in the nuclear free zone movement, the Central American crisis and the anti-Apartheid movement throughout the 1980s. A theoretical synthesis of literature in world society theory, diplomatic studies and social movement theory is used to explain the normative, macro-sociological, legal, democratic and sociopolitical dynamics of contentious city-government intervention in foreign affairs. Emphasizing the normative processes at play, this article argues through a world society theoretical interpretation that ‘municipal foreign policy’ efforts represent local-level codification of universal norms that the US federal government either neglected to enforce or directly violated.
The success of local climate governance in Europe depends not only on leading cities but also on the dynamics between leaders, followers, and laggards. Upscaling local experiments helps to close the gap between these actors. This process is driven by the increasing embeddedness of cities and their networks in EU multilevel governance. Embedded upscaling combines horizontal upscaling between leading cities with vertical upscaling between leaders and followers that is mediated by higher levels of government, and hierarchical upscaling that even reaches the laggards. Various types of upscaling, their combinations, and their impacts are analyzed. Networks have become denser and networking has intensified. City networks and their member cities have become embedded in national and EU governance, lost authority and depend more and more on regional, national, and European authorities.