City diplomacy in the fight against climate emergency

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LSE - London School of Economic and Political Science

LSE-Sciences Po Masters Double Degree in Affaires Internationales alumnus (2019) Casimir Legrand now works at C40 Cities, supporting mayors and cities to engage in global, regional, and national political discussions with the aim of enhancing their climate leadership, championing ambitious and equitable climate action, and removing barriers to city-level action.

In the article below he attempts to unpack the relatively young concept of city diplomacy and highlights how it can be leveraged as a mechanism to elevate the role and voices of cities on the global climate stage.

Moving away from traditional notions of diplomacy

Diplomacy is broadly defined as a set of activities and tactics initiated to shape global policies and frameworks in international relations. Traditionally, this function has been uniquely within the purview of nation states. The aftermath of the Cold War, however, encouraged the removal of cross-national barriers ushering in an era of globalisation. States began to interact differently and non-state actors and individuals moved into the transactional space that was freed up. The relatively unimpeded movements of goods, money, and people quickly resulted in a fundamental and irreversible interdependency and interconnectedness for the sharing of new technology, trade, and international security among states never before witnessed throughout human history.

But, globalisation also highlights the emergence of what Kofi Annan has famously dubbed “problems without passports”, a series of transnational threats that don’t respect state borders and that fundamentally require global responses to solve – climate change, transnational organised crime, pandemics, asymmetric warfare to name a few. These forces are driving a paradigm shift that is eroding the deeply enshrined principle of state sovereignty in international relations, and consequently challenging the primacy and exclusivity of the role of the state in international politics.

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