David J. Gordon

2018 Hellman Fellow


Assistant Professor of Politics
UC Santa Cruz

Project title: Accountability and Global Urban Climate Governance

Project description:

As cities search for ways to achieve the ambitious goals they set for themselves – carbon neutrality, decarbonization, climate resilience – they face the need for a substantial influx of resources required to build, upgrade, or replace public infrastructure related to systems of urban mobility, energy, water, waste, and communications. This project focuses on the creation and operation of novel systems of global urban accountability, one prominent means through which cities aim to secure global recognition, legitimacy, and investment. Through these systems cities are committing themselves to being accountable to a variety of external audiences – one another, international organizations, philanthropic entities, development banks, multinational corporations, and private capital markets – through practices of measurement, standardization, transparency, and disclosure.

This project sets out to identify and assess the impact of these new systems of global urban accountability along three distinct dimensions: testing whether they enhance cities’ capacity to attract outside funding or investment; assessing whether they are related to policy engagement or measurable effects; and exploring how they relate to local practices of citizen or community-oriented accountability. In so doing my goal is to contribute to ongoing efforts to assess the impact of city contributions to the global response to climate change, and to help shape their efforts in a more socially just and equitable direction.

Recent publications:

*NEW City-Networks, Global Climate Governance, and the Road to 1.5C  COSUST 30: 35-41 (2018, with Craig Johnson)
The Orchestration of Global Urban Climate Governance: Conducting Power in the Post-Paris Climate Regime,  Environmental Politics 26(4): 694-714 (2017, with Craig Johnson)
The Politics of Accountability in Networked Urban Climate GovernanceGlobal Environmental Politics 16(2): 82-100 (2016)
Lament for a Network? Cities and networked climate governance in CanadaEnvironment & Planning C 34(3): 529-545 (2016)