Journal article

Global urban policy and the geopolitics of urban data

Enora Robin, Michele Acuto



Cities have gained prominence in global sustainability discourses. The United Nations ‘2030 Agenda’ highlights in at least four key agreements the need to engage local stakeholders as key partners for the implementation of global policy objectives. As a result, the rise of a ‘cities agenda’ has led not only to an increased role for cities in global politics but also to a reshaping of the knowledge-base underpinning international agreements and their implementation. This paper argues that the contemporary willingness to move beyond the “territorial trap” of modern geopolitics, by emphasizing cities’ agency in global affairs and by calling for the production of globally comparable urban data, ..

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Awarded by UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

Part of this research received support from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/M507970/1) and this paper is part of a broader investigation into the role of urban science in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, which benefitted from the invaluable research support of Katrien Steenmans. We would like to extend our thanks to those who participated in the Global Urban Knowledge and the New Urban Agenda workshop (University College London, September 2016) for their engagement with the preliminary findings of this research. Special thanks also go to Jenny McArthur for ongoing and thought-provoking office discussions on the politics of quantification in urban policy-making. Finally, we are endeavoured to the journal editor and three anonymous referees for their useful and constructive comments on previous versions of this manuscript. We remain, of course, solely responsible for the views expressed in this article.