The globalization of Sydney and its rise to world city status tell us a profoundly political story that presents critical challenges both in terms of local development and long-term sustainability. Green is at the centre of this imagineering, which situates environmental sustainability at the core of Sydney's competitive and innovative edge. Yet the Harbour City, while rising to worldwide fame, has also been progressively troubled by wicked challenges that question its increasingly entrepreneurial and largely unproblematized approach to urban governance. At present, the metropolis has tackled these challenges by means of ad hoc solutions and policy-making processes that, on deeper analysis, reveal little coordination beyond an impetus for growth as the driver of collective action at the urban scale. Due to the lack of a clear metropolis-wide authority and the multiscalar nature of urban governance, the city has turned too much towards tackling sustainability within its urban dimension as a source of global competitiveness, while social polarization questions are steadily advancing to the forefront. It is time, I argue, for a Greater Sydney Authority.
Many authors have issued anxious warnings about a disturbing "backlash against democracy" - this in spite of the growing affirmation of democracy as an international standard against which other systems are measured. This article considers the role of democracy promotion, which is understood as activities aimed at assisting in consolidating, disseminating, and advocating democratic governance in this context. The theoretical framework in which the promotion debate occurs is high-lighted in order to show how the concept of "democracy" is socially constructed and interpreted in different ways by the various promoters. The article examines the main targets of this activity (state structures and civil societies) and compares two major supporters of democracy (the European Union and the United States). On this basis, claims about a "democratic rollback" are challenged by reference to hybrid regimes that contrast the idea of democracy with that of civilization. The backlash is better understood as resistence to some of the methods of promotion and some promoters, rather than as being against democracy itself, and the article holds that the best way to promote good governance worldwide is through an oblique, cosmopolitan or European-style democracy that fosters the multiple and processual grounds on which democratic polities can flourish.