Recently, there has been increasing evidence of the emergence of systemic strains that threaten international cooperative efforts on global issues, especially climate change, biodiversity loss and security. Non-state actors have responded by declaring their commitment to work together alongside nations as climate agreements struggle to deliver the necessary global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, conservation goals are not met, and security issues diversify. A principal constituent of the world’s non-state actors are cities. With many cities now home to more than 10 million individuals and several cities of more than 20 million, the urban world has come to dominate the global economy as well as the resource needs and environmental burdens imposed upon the planet by our species. Urban economies are responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions and substantially affect the world’s biodiversity by driving the extraction of resources and the degradation of global natural capital. Cities have become concentrators of diverse risk that complicate and broaden global security priorities. Cities are also crucibles of innovation in technology, business and governance and strong alliances between the world’s cities have formed to address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity and more. This paper asserts the unique potential for cities to assume a greater role in global priorities, including climate change, biodiversity loss and a realignment of security priorities. The transformative changes required in these three domains calls for a renewal of the city as a semi-autonomous neo-state, an ecological city-state.
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