Green Structural Adjustment in the World Bank's Resilient City

Bigger, Patrick and Webber, Sophie (2021) Green Structural Adjustment in the World Bank's Resilient City. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 111 (1). pp. 36-51. ISSN 2469-4460

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According to an increasingly prevalent set of discourses and practices within environmental and development finance, cities across the Global South are facing a costly infrastructural crisis stemming from rapid urbanization and climate change that threatens to further entrench poverty and precarity for millions of people. The cost of achieving urban resilience across the world dwarfs available public finance, however, from both development banks and governments themselves. Meanwhile, vast amounts of money on capital markets are searching for profitable investment opportunities. The World Bank is attempting to channel return-seeking investment into urban infrastructure in response to these challenges. To harness this private finance, though, cities must be reformatted in investment-friendly ways. In this article, we chart the emergence of this discourse and associated practices within the World Bank. We call this rescaled and climate-inflected program of leveraged investments coupled with technical assistance Green Structural Adjustment. Drawing on policy documents, reports, and interviews with key staff, we examine programs that include Green Structural Adjustment to show how it aims to restructure local governments to capture new financial flows. Green Structural Adjustment reduces adaptation to a question of infrastructure finance and government capacity building, reinscribing both causes and effects of uneven development while creating spatial fixes for overaccumulated Northern capital in the Global South.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Annals of the American Association of Geographers on 02/06/2020, available online:
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27 Mar 2020 09:45
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 20:31