Discussion Paper

No. 2018-70 | September 28, 2018
(Submitted as Global Solutions Paper)


This paper argues in favor of a new urban model that harnesses the power that cities have to curb global warming. Such a model tackles fundamental management challenges in the energy, building and transport sectors to promote the growth of diverse and compact cities. Such a model is essential for meeting complex challenges in cities, such as promoting a cohesive social life and a competitive economic base while simultaneously preserving agricultural and natural systems crucial to soil, energy, and material resources. With most of the population living in urban areas, the G20 should recognize the key role that cities play in addressing global challenges such as climate change. Improved measures taken by cities should be an indispensable solution. The G20 Development Working Group, Climate Sustainability Working Group, and Energy Transitions Working Group should incorporate an urban approach to discussions related to climate change.

JEL Classification:

O18, O19, O2, O44, Q01, Q50, Q51, Q54, Q56, Q58, R00


  • Downloads: 218


Cite As

Gabriel Lanfranchi, Ana Carolina Herrero, Salvador Rueda Palenzuela, Inés Camilloni, and Steffen Bauer (2018). The new urban paradigm. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2018-70, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2018-70

Comments and Questions

Anonymous - Referee report
December 18, 2018 - 08:16

• My understanding is that the key message broadly is that cities should play a stronger role in global governance (especially related to climate change), hence be strengthened accordingly (fiscally, decision-making powers etc.) both in themselves and as a network, and that they should adapt some new urban model that ultimately ...[more]

... means, denser, more liveable cities with a lower carbon footprint etc.
• The abstract of the paper is already somewhat unclear, however, as to what the key message of the paper is – or rather, it would be better to have one clear message. It almost appears as if the abstract as well as the paper as a whole reflects some struggle between the authors on the main message of the article. And while the message that cities should play a stronger role in global governance and within the G20 in particular is certainly one that is of relevance for the G20, the somewhat vaguely defined concept of the new urban model appears rather academic and probably more of relevance for managerial and leadership decisions at the city level (and between cities), rather than something where G20 decision makers can make things happen at the global policy level. It may be advisable to focus the argument on the global governance aspect and specific suggestions on the role cities can and should take, incl. in the G20.
• Regarding the discussion on the relevance of cities for climate change etc., GHG and CO2 – while not used interchangeably – are used side by side as if to suggest they are the same. It might be advisable to make this clearer.
• In the discussion regarding the building sector and the data presented in this context, there is no indication whether this only relates to cities or to the building sector overall. If this is national data, it would not support the argument made earlier accurately as it does not exclusively relate to buildings in cities.
• There are numerous initiatives beyond international conferences and agreements and the G20 that connect cities and facilitate exchange, promote them as a key global actors in tackling climate change. It would be important to mention them and to highlight what they have achieved already, and what not, to what extent one could build on those initiatives and need to consider them, and what more the G20 could do beyond those initiatives have done (or not) already. See e.g. C40, C100. https://www.c40.org/
• It may be better to focus the discussion on the 1.5 degree target related to climate change, rather than the 2.0 degree, as the international discussion has shifted toward the former.
• While most of the article focusses on climate related issues connected to urbanization, there is also mention of sustainability in broader terms – i.e. including social/inclusive (and economic?). However, the reader is left wondering what the social implications of the proposed model (denser urban spaces) would be. If not managed well, it is rather likely that land / house prices in those denser cities will increase (further), leading to spatial disparity, elite cities etc.
• The closing section highlights that there should be focus on “mitigation”. It is not clear why adaptation is less relevant. One would normally say, both are crucial.
• Inconsistency in style. It is rather obvious that in some parts certain authors have inserted “their” paragraphs. These paragraphs differ in terms of language, and in parts they also repeat in other words what was mentioned elsewhere in the paper already.