Urban Political Podcast

Urban Sustainability as New Financial Fix?

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The crisis of 2008 has set into motion a growing influence of finance in municipalities. In particular, financial actors have identified an enormous "investment gap" in cities in the Global South. This trend intersects with a new set of urban development strategies, that present the financial market as a catalyst for sustainable development. Standard setting organizations facilitate this process by providing norms and standards that offer transparency and reliability for financial actors.

Hanna elaborates on how these trends and actors have come together in the municipal administration of Mexico City and its decision to issue Green Municipal Bonds in 2016. Although a celebrated success on the market, these bonds did not finance a single project in addition to what would have been financed anyhow. At the same time, her research also reveals that these municipal and financial developments are not as straightforward as the idea of a "financial fix" might suggest. Hanna offers us some critical insights on these processes and what political learnings we can draw from this case.

Our guest

Hanna Hilbrandt is Professor of Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Zurich. Her research on processes of financialization in Mexico City has recently been published in Environment and Planning A (see here). In addition, Hanna's work explores spaces of mundane transgression, planning conflict, and housing marginality.