One day of the four-day conference was devoted just to the law, of which Marshall’s panel was a part. The panel featured Mindy Goldstein, director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University; Fernanda G. Nicola, professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law; and Robert R. M. Verchick, Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University.
“It is an opportunity for [The World Bank] to talk out concerns,” said Marshall, associate director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth. “Historically, the international dialogue has been controlled by nation states, and only recently have cities gotten to sit at the adult table, so to speak.”
Yet it is the individual cities that suffer from the growing effects of climate change, such as rising tides or food market shortages.
“The conference is a way to get people together to show what cities are doing so they can work together,” Marshall said. “[My panel] is a big-scale productive lunch, in a way.”
Cities can discuss ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, like making investments into levies or research into hydroponic farming. Some have grouped together to buy buses that run on natural gases in bulk for a cheaper price, Marshall said. Cities are starting to become participants in the public market.
Marshall gave an example: the city of Atlanta has passed local ordinances requiring buildings to report how much energy they use per month. Though many building owners are upset about this ordinance, the benefits are twofold: building owners are cognizant of how much energy they use and green businesses will be attracted to buildings that have lower power usage, thus making these buildings more competitive.
Marshall contends this effort appears to have paid off, as Atlanta was named one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, a special designation of global cities committed to planning for resilience.
Efforts such as these are signs of somewhat of a grassroots-type movement to mitigate the effects of climate change. “Cities are doubling down on this area,” Marshall said.
Younger people are rejecting the suburbs in favor of moving back to the city, and businesses want them, both as employees and customers. This is what drives the push for climate resiliency, Marshall said.
“Cities are being entrepreneurs in finding ways to attract a younger base. A main way is by promoting greener policies. As such, the individual cities can be the drivers for climate policy change, rather than waiting for change to happen at a national or international level,” Marshall said.
Marshall’s hope for the panel was to nurture relationships between cities and build networks, so that collaboration can continue to grow in the future. “This panel may not change the world, but it might keep a conversation going,” he said.