Rating Urban Resilience and Vulnerability

Authors: Savannah Cox*, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Urban Geography, Political Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: climate change, resilience, climate justice, environmental justice, urban geography, cities, urban planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2017, the world’s largest credit rating agency (CRA), Moody's, announced that it had begun to factor a city’s “resilience” and “vulnerability” to climate change into its municipal bond rating schemes. Other CRAs have similarly proclaimed that they will soon follow suit. Because of their apparent “structural power,” actors across a range of industries and political orientations have both feared and called for significant CRA action on urban climate change governance. In this paper, I use expert interviews and documentary analysis to examine the motivations behind recent CRA interventions in urban climate change governance; how CRAs construct urban resilience as a ratable value, and what political values they embed into these nascent constructions. Miami is the first city which Moody’s has explicitly rated for its actions on urban resilience. Through a brief case study of contemporary resilience planning initiatives in Miami, I examine the extent to which CRA activity motivates the forms and goals of urban resilience plans, the possible distributional outcomes of CRA-driven resilience planning, and the novel terrains of urban climate politics onto which these plans and activities unfold and help shape.

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