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Positionality and Behavioral Choices

These two videos clearly show the importance of having resources available to invest in sustainability. I believe that it is a privilege to be able to actively consider living sustainably, when at the same time people globally continue to live below the poverty line. In the video on Copenhagen as the sustainable city of the future the mayor explained that the residents of Copenhagen were actively involved in transforming the city into a carbon neutral city. However, Denmark has the resources to be able to invest in initiatives to help this green transformation. I think the situation in many cities in the Global South is very different. Whereas in the Global North people might move to cities because of employment opportunities, in the Global South it seems that people often move due to rural poverty and desperation. As a result, this leads to ‘pseudo-urbanisation’ (a term coined by Bhaswati Ray in an article on the “quality of life in selected slums in Kolkata”, 2017). Pseudo-urbanization means that a city might be expanding, but there is no expansion in infrastructure to support this greater urbanization. As a result, informal settlements might be enlarging, but this is not coupled with an increase in facilities and employment options, leading to a degradation in the quality of urban life. In the case of pseudo-urbanization, behavioral choices are severely limited by a lack of a supporting infrastructure, as in Nairobi. Copenhagen, in contrast, as a city has the resources to set up sustainable infrastructures, and its residents have the resources to invest in behavioral choices. Our behavioral choices are influenced by the way various states interact with each other and are dependent upon each other. One’s positionality within this web of interdependence thus influences one’s behavior.

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