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Panel 60. Climate Action and Environmental Democracy in Cities in the Global North and South


  • Bharat Punjabi, University of Toronto,
  • Shahana Chattaraj, World Resources Institute India/ Centre for Policy Research,


From Rio to Santiago, Seattle to Mumbai, cities across the world have been recognised as critical sites for – as well as actors in – climate politics and policy.

In this panel session, we explore how technocratic and globally-driven models of climate planning and action intersect with local environmental/climate movements and struggles, as well as democratic politics in cities in the global South and North. We will discuss, through empirical as well as theoretical and analytical research, the following questions:

  • How do tensions between technocratic planning models and local politics and interests play out?
  • As climate resilience becomes increasingly salient in urban agendas, who are the actors shaping urban policy-making and politics – from global think tanks to new urban social movements, and how much power and influence do they have?
  • Are local democratic processes and long-term climate planning at odds? What are the implications of undertaking climate action without strengthening environmental democracy in cities?

We welcome research papers across disciplines and geographies that address the panel questions and themes. Rather than analysing urban climate policy, politics and environmental democracy in isolation, we seek to better understand how climate-related politics and policy- making within and of the city shape, counter, reflect and articulate with broader regional, national and global political and social movements and contexts.

We are particularly interested in empirical studies in cities in North and South America and India/ South Asia. In these regions, urban environmental/ climate politics and actions are intertwined with broader local and national political conflicts and shifts. While several countries in these regions have experienced democratic backsliding or face threats to democratic institutions, their cities have been sites for progressive environmental and social movements and successful collective action. In some contexts, for instance in Brazilian or US cities, urban climate actions and politics have been shaped by sub-national and local democratic processes, and are largely progressive and solidaric, making common cause with broader movements for social and environmental justice. In India, in contrast, a growing emphasis on climate-focused urban agendas and plans coincides with unchecked democratic backsliding and a lack of city- level democratic institutions and processes.

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

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Torre 26, Oficina 1504
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Los Navegantes 1963
Providencia – RM