Mapping city-to-city networks for climate change action: Geographic bases, link modalities, functions, and activity

Taedong Lee, Ha Yoon Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


By forming city-to-city (C2C) transnational networks, cities can take action collectively against climate change. Interaction and collaboration among cities offers policymakers a chance to learn how other cities are conducting climate mitigation and adaptation measures. However, activities of C2C climate networks vary. By analyzing C2C climate networks, this study aims to identify and categorize C2C networks for climate change action, and to link the functions with levels of activity. To understand C2C climate-action networks, we suggest a framework for mapping C2C: geographic bases (domestic, regional, and global C2C), linking modalities (multilateral, and institution-led C2C), and functions (information exchange, networking, lobbying and funding, research, standards and commitments provision, and monitoring and certification). Based on this framework, we analyze the contents of C2C websites to assess current activities. We find that not all C2C networks are currently active. Statistical analysis and case studies suggest that C2C climate networks with advanced functions—such as lobbying, research, climate plans, and monitoring—are likely to actively engage with member cities. However, C2C cooperation focusing mainly on networking or information sharing is less likely to survive. Policy implications suggest that well-designed and advanced C2C networks with research and monitoring functions rather than simple networking functions can enable member cities to actively engage in climate policy cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
From the perspective of functionalism, translocal climate networks are entities that facilitate the cooperation of cities across countries. Functions of a translocal climate network include information exchange/networking, lobbying, funding operations, research, target and plan provision ( Niederhafner, 2013 ), and monitoring and certification ( Bulkeley et al., 2012; Lee and Koski, 2015 ). Information exchange/networking is one of the most common functions of C2C. Exchanging knowledge, best practices, and expertise is meant to reduce costs and enhance effectiveness of combatting climate change. A lack of proper knowledge of local-level climate policies drove cities to form networks, and thus provision and sharing of experience are the primary functions of the networks. To analyze the relationship between functions and activity, we coded information exchange if a C2C network provides climate-change-related policies and news through its website. The networking function is coded when a C2C network hosts meetings and conferences with member cities. Lobbying upper-level (national and international) governments is another function of C2C networks. Lack of access of the city government to the national and international-level climate policymaking process drove cities to form their networks. Thus, cities and their networks aim to change upper-level governments by lobbying for their members’ collective interests with upper-level governments. We coded lobbying as a primary function when a C2C network advocates change in climate change policy in international institutions or national governments. Funding is an important function of translocal climate networks. Insufficient financial resources impede active response to the climate change issue. By forming, translocal climate networks acquire sufficient financial means to deliver planned actions. For instance, EU grants (for cities and member countries) often ask for the participation of six or more EU member states as a group. C2C could get the funding from upper-level governments by establishing cooperative networks of multiple participants. In a similar vein, C2C can be funded by private foundations such as the ACCCRN, which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. We coded funding as a function when a C2C network makes an effort to gain funding from international institutions, businesses, or foundations. Research can be a key element of successful C2C cooperation. Documenting and disseminating research findings may bring about policy learning as well as a diffusion of best practices for member cities. C2C networks such as C40 provide cities with a substantial database for analyzing key trends, identifying opportunities for further action across the global network, and helping prioritize initiative areas with the potential for action and impact. When a C2C network offers research outcomes (rather than just simple news) of climate change policies, we code it as a research function. Target and plan provision means that a C2C network (usually as a form of secretariat) suggests a standard or agenda to follow. Standards range from a simple commitment for membership, sharing reduction targets and plans, to following procedural standards such as ICLEI's five milestones ( Giest and Howlett, 2013 ). We coded targets and climate change action plans if a C2C network provided a common mitigation target or voluntary target setting, and planning procedure respectively. Monitoring and certification is to assess a compliance process of targeted goals by disclosing the information. This monitoring verifies members’ activities and, in some cases, provides certificates for the accomplishment. Information disclosure is one of the ways to ensure compliance ( Kraft et al., 2011 ). Certification provision enhances reputational benefits of being a member ( Bartley, 2003 ). We coded the monitoring and disclosure function when a C2C requests member cities to monitor and disclose the mitigation performance in their websites. 4

Funding Information:
C2C Networks Functions Activities (focusing on the current events) Website URL Homepage Activation Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCRN) information, networking, lobbying, research Forum Blog competition Building coalition/partnership O C40 Cities information, networking, funding, research Mayors Summit Research O Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) lobbying, monitoring, research Operating global disclosure system Providing information to the market O Clean Air Asia information, networking, funding, plan Integrated program Cities partnership Transport data for policies and investment planning O Climate Alliance of European Cities with Indigenous Peoples information, networking, lobbying, target International Climate Alliance Conference and General Assembly O Community Development Carbon Fund networking, funding Extending the benefits of carbon finance to the poorest countries and poor communities Not very active Connected Urban Development information, networking, funding Networking expertise of bringing information to users Not active Connecting Delta Cities information, networking, research Developing a network of delta cities (No CDC-led conference or workshop since 2014) O (only news updated) Covenant of Mayors networking, lobbying, target, monitoring, research Covenant of Mayors webinar Forum Workshop Action Plans of the cities O Delta Alliance information, networking, monitoring, research Workshop, seminar, conference, training (No event updated since September 2014/No newsletter updated since August 2015) O (only news updated) Energy Cities networking, lobbying, research Annual conference Initiatives & Campaigns Project Workshop Webinars O EUROCITIES Declaration on Climate Change networking, lobbying, target, research European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns International Cities for Mobility Congress Forums Working group O ICLEI- Local Government for Sustainability networking, lobbying, target, research Compact of Mayors E-Learning Webinar Resilient Cities Local Climate Solutions for Africa: Water & Climate Congress O International Solar Cities Networking Congress Not very active Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment information, networking, target No events and announcement updated since 2010 X Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) information, funding Renewable Energy Africa Investment Summit World Energy Congress O SlimCity Initiative networking, funding Most events are held by the World Economic Forum Not active Sustainable Cities International information, networking, research International Youth Internship Program SCI Energy Lab O The Climate Group information, networking, lobbying Climate and energy initiatives with businesses and governments O The Climate Registry information, target, monitoring Climate Leadership Awards and Conference O United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) information, networking, lobbying UCLG Congress, World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders O The US Mayor Climate Protection Agreement information, networking, target, research Agreement of Mayors in the US Reports/Latest News (Mayors Climate Protection Center) O Western Climate Initiative information, networking Board of Directors meeting O (only news updated) World Mayors Council on Climate Change networking No events and news updated since 2014 X

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea ( 2017S1A5A8019636 ). Appendix

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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