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Financing Reparative Urbanism in Detroit and Puerto Rico
In recent years projects geared toward promoting urban resilience have been at the forefront of innovations in climate change governance and disaster recovery. Developing an appropriate financial ecosystem to support such projects and foreground climate justice has been a challenge, however. Public-private partnerships have failed to deliver equitable access to the benefits of sustainable communities, many philanthropic initiatives lack democratic accountability, and green bonds are not living up to expectations in terms of uptake by issuers or ecological results. Meanwhile, marginalized communities, who are themselves often at the ‘frontlines’ of climate change, continue to face differential treatment in bond markets due to the impacts of ongoing and historical racialization. Rather than continuing to lean on activities and innovations that are largely promoted and governed by the private financial sphere, this intervention proposes that achieving climate, racial and economic justice is only possible by reimagining the work and responsibilities of public finance, bending it towards reparative ends. Taking the two largest municipal bond market bankruptcies in US history as comparative case studies, Puerto Rico and Detroit, this talk illustrates how current frameworks of public finance reinscribe racialized conditions of crisis onto socio-economic and socio-ecological futures. It makes the methodological case for using relational comparison to identify international solidarities in the struggle against global financial processes run amok, and concludes with a preview on new work engaging the concept of reparative urbanism – what it is, where it takes place and why invoking it changes the stakes.
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