City Leadership in Global Governance

26 July 2013

Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organization

Michele Acuto (2013) City Leadership in Global Governance. Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations: July-September 2013, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 481-498.

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The international society's lack of leadership is often blamed for many of the shortcomings in addressing global challenges. Yet this focus might have been on the wrong kind of leaders: rather than heads of state and diplomats, effective international responses might be better situated with the ordinary influence of city leaders. While capable of reaching beyond urban politics and developing transnational networks, mayors might represent a key hinge for the effective response to important challenges like climate change or sustainability. Against this scholarly oversight, this article demonstrates how mayors have a catalytic influence in global governance. Providing evidence of that role, it summarizes this agency through five non-exclusive features: regime promotion, governance hybridization, diplomatic entrepreneurship, normative mediation, and everyday international influence. Relying on the vast variety of city-led initiatives spawned in the past few decades, this article demands greater attention for the pivotal positioning of city leaders in global governance.