RSA members are invited to visit the project blog/website for “Global infrastructure public-private partnerships and the geopolitics of city-regions” at https://gip3cityreg.wordpress.com/ . This 18-month project is funded by a Fellowship Research Grant from the RSA. The Principle Investigator on this project is Andy Jonas, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Hull. The blog/website is intended to provide a forum for the exchange of information, knowledge, ideas and resources relevant to the study of city-regions.

Public-sector urban authorities and regional agencies in many advanced industrialized countries are turning to a new generation of global infrastructure public-private partnerships (GIP3s) in order to leverage private investment for social and transportation infrastructure projects. GIP3s involve consortia of international construction companies and investment firms, which raise capital from global equity and bond markets in order to cover extra costs required for the financing, delivery and operation of infrastructure, such as mass transit systems. However, very little research has been conducted on how and why global investment consortia target particular city-regions, and what is the relationship between GIP3s and city-regional governance processes.

The project has two broad aims. The first is to examine the circumstances in which public authorities in a sample of city-regions in Europe, North America and China look to GIP3s in order to sustain investments in transportation and related social infrastructures. The second aim is to understand how city-regions in different countries are differently positioned by their national governments as drivers of international competition.

The project uses case studies to develop insights into the contemporary geopolitics of city-regions and infrastructure provision. The following city-regions were initially identified as potential case studies, drawing upon the PIs prior knowledge and existing research collaborations: Denver city-region and Seattle-Tacoma city-region in the USA; and Greater London (UK) and Helsinki (Finland) in Europe. Subsequently, the Yangtze River Delta Region was added, which represents a new collaboration with scholars in China. The research involves field site visits and stakeholder interviews in each of the case study locations. Desktop analyses of public documents and national and local media coverage are also being conducted.

By highlighting the role of GIP3s as geopolitical intermediaries, the project aims to deliver new insights into two poorly understood dimensions of city-regionalism. Firstly, it will greatly enhance our understanding of the links between the financing of infrastructure and city-regionalism. Secondly, it seeks to understand the role of institutional and political actors in driving the processes by which city-regionalism is becoming internationally orchestrated. It is anticipated that future research on city-regionalism could profit from the making of stronger conceptual links between the global financing of infrastructure and the corresponding geopolitical processes operating around and within city-regions.

Andy Jonas

Seed funding for this project was awarded by the RSA as part of the RSA Fellowship Research Grant Scheme. Further information on this award can be found at http://www.regionalstudies.org/funding/report/global-infrastructure-publicprivate-partnerships-and-the-geopolitics-of-cit