Our Bandit Future? Cities, Shantytowns and Climate Change Governance

43 Pages Posted: 5 May 2009 Last revised: 20 Oct 2014

See all articles by Colin Crawford

Colin Crawford

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: April 28, 2009


The effects of climate change on the world's cities and the people who live in them is not a matter that has received a great deal of attention. The effects of climate change tend to get considered in continental or regional terms – melting ice caps, agricultural crop losses across vast swaths of land, shoreline loss that will inundate sub-continents. Alternately, the discussion tends to focus on behavioral change, again at the level of entire national populations. Crudely put, the analysis posits that poorer nations, especially those in Asia and Africa, will become poorer, while the richer nations will, if not become richer, at the least suffer fewer negative consequences of climate change. What this debate strikingly neglects is arguably the dominant demographic shift of our era, namely the global trend towards urbanization. In historical terms, it is impossible to understate the significance of this phenomenon, especially in as much as the vast majority of these in-urban migrants will arrive in the world's cities without resources and live in slum conditions. As the world gets hotter, this seems likely to create a – perhaps literally – combustible situation. The paper therefore seeks to identify the striking inattention of the climate change literature, and especially the mainstream, U.S.-based legal scholarship on climate change, to address the effect of this environmental phenomenon on the world’s mega-cities and their extensive mega-slums. The paper further suggests that most analysts and scholars have failed adequately to address the phenomenon of global urbanization, failing to appreciate the ways in which, for example, people (and especially elites) in developed and developing countries benefit from urbanization in less-developed countries. The paper then traces a connection between these two phenomena, arguing that the climate change debate and the search for legal solutions to help combat climate change need take more careful account of global urbanization. The paper concludes by offering possible models for greater participation of the urban poor in the search for solutions, specifically endorsing the possible application of participatory budgeting experiments used across the world.

Keywords: climate change, environmental law, development law

JEL Classification: K0, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Crawford, Colin, Our Bandit Future? Cities, Shantytowns and Climate Change Governance (April 28, 2009). Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-15, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1396310 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1396310

Colin Crawford (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics