Global Cities Reach Beyond National Boundaries to Advance International Agendas

April 8, 2015

Market Watch

The rise of global cities is taking on a new dimension as cities increasingly pursue their own international engagements, agreements and trade policies independent of their national governments. What this means for international relations and diplomacy will be the subject of a discussion featuring former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, at the Chicago Forum on Global Cities on May 29.

“As global cities evolve into ever more vibrant hubs for commerce, education, culture and innovation, they will undoubtedly have a more pronounced influence, not only within their countries’ borders, but also on an international level,” said Albright. “This trend will only accelerate as global cities grow, so we need to better understand the dynamics between global cities of the future and traditional nation-states in order to tackle 21st century challenges.”

Albright will be among the leaders in civics, arts and culture, education and business who will converge in Chicago May 27-29 to discuss the increasing influence of global cities. London, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Dubai, Sydney and other major cities will be represented.

Albright will be joined in a panel discussion on the foreign policies of cities by Benjamin Barber, a professor at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at The City University of New York; former Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio; Mayor of The Hague and former Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias Van Aartsen; and Financial Times chief political commentator Philip Stephens.

“This is a fascinating discussion with literally far-reaching implications that deserves more attention,” said Saskia Sassen, sociologist and Columbia University professor whose book, The Global City, explored how New York, Tokyo, Paris, Chicago, Singapore and other cities have become magnets for power and resources. Sassen also will speak at the Chicago Forum on Global Cities.

“By pursuing their own business ties, trade missions, cultural exchanges and agreements with each other, global cities may even have the ability to disrupt the foreign policy agendas of their nations,” said Sassen. “Cities are more nimble and often less weighed down by national politics than central governments are, and that means they can push the envelope further and faster by working with other cities that share a similar set of social and economic issues and interests.”

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