From Here, There, and Everywhere: English-language Media Outlets and Urban Planning Best Practices in the Global South


This article explores the referencing of urban planning best practices focused on fostering more ‘sustainable’ and ‘livable’ cities by decision makers within the global South. Specifically, I illustrate the role of English-language media outlets in influencing the policy-making process, thereby encouraging local decision makers to adopt some urban planning best practice policies and programs over others. I argue that the media outlets that are commonly drawn on to identify best practices remain located within the global North, obscuring opportunities to conceptualize urban planning from within the context of the South. To theorize my arguments, I position myself within the government department of the Laboratorio para la Ciudad (Laboratory for the City, or LabCDMX) in Mexico City, a local nexus for best practice adoption. I make the case that decision makers frequently use best practices reported on in the English-language media, such as blogs and newspapers, including The New York Times and CityLab. I conclude by suggesting that the North continues to influence Southern decision makers during the policy-making process, regardless of whether these best practices originated in cities within the North or the South.