Spatial Capital and the Agglomeration of Governance in the Transnational REDD+ Field

Authors: Caleb Gallemore*, Lafayette College, Arno Kourula, University of Amsterdam, Kristjan Jespersen, Copenhagen Business School, Roy Suddaby, University of Victoria
Topics: Urban Geography, Global Change, Political Geography
Keywords: world cities, environmental governance, REDD+
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite their concern with the "problem of fit" between institutions and environmental systems, studies of transnational environmental governance often fail to adequately analyze the role of space in governance itself. Using data on organization's involvement in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) pilot project, publications, and standards-setting committees as of 2012, we identify the association between organizations' activities and their headquarters locations using exponential random graph models (ERGMs). Consistent with what we would expect from studies of world-city networks, we find that certain cities acted as basing points for REDD+ governance, leading to an agglomeration of governance activities in particular places. In contrast with what would be expected from a world-city network perspective, however, we find that cities that took on a critical role in transnational REDD+ governance were not necessarily dominant in the advanced producers service firm world-city network. Drawing from Pierre Bourdieu's field theory, we argue that transnational REDD+ governance was becoming a differentiated social field as of 2012, with a spatial signature distant from the global world-city network. While this geography differed from that of the world-city network, however, it was still dominated by actors from the global North. This, we argue, led to the creation and promulgation of models that were unlikely to be successful in tropical forest countries and ran a considerable risk of simply reinstating neo-colonial approaches to conservation. We conclude that studies of transnational environmental governance should pay more attention to the geography of interurban networks to better support transformative approaches.

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