Urban Transitions and Implications for the Global South

Can we grasp the opportunities?

In the pursuit of sustainable urban development, collaboration is key. IHS is committed to fostering cooperation at various levels and across different aspects of city development, which is why we were eager to partner with Leiden-Delft-Erasmus (LDE Global) for the Panel discussion on "Urban Transitions for the Global South". In this article, we summarise some of the valuable input shared by the speakers at this event.

Transitioning towards sustainable cities requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders. It is not a task that can be accomplished by a single entity or sector alone. "Governments, academia, civil society, businesses, and local communities all need to participate in these transitions actively", said IHS General Director and Moderator of the session, Dr David Dodman.

"Each stakeholder brings unique perspectives and resources that, when combined, can drive effective and equitable change."

The speakers shared their opinions on the topic to shed light on the importance of collaboration and the involvement of various stakeholders.

Just transition towards a sustainable future 

Dr Roberto Rocco, Associate Professor of Spatial Planning and Strategy at TU Delft, emphasised the need for a just transition towards a sustainable future. He highlighted the European Green Deal, which aims to make Europe carbon-neutral by 2050. Dr Rocco advocated for financing the transitions and ensuring a "just transition" that leaves no one behind, particularly those facing severe challenges. He stressed that "justice, both within our generation and for future generations, is crucial for sustainability".

"The concept of justice should extend to how we live within our communities and the planet as a whole."

The needs of the growing populations

Professor Dr Ibidun O. Adelekan, Professor of Geography at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, drew attention to the challenges rapidly urbanising regions face in supplying the needs of their growing populations. Issues such as transportation, flooding, and resource allocation require adaptation and adequate solutions. She pointed out that governments often set priorities according to the focus areas of international donor agencies, instead of looking at internal events and aligning with those. Furthermore, at an internal level, national and local priorities often differ, hence a ‘blanket’ allocation of resources is not helpful. Instead, she emphasized how important it is for local governments to involve and collaborate with communities and the private sector in finding solutions to manage cities and address everyday issues effectively.

From community participation to community partnership

Beatrice Hati, IHS Alumna and Urban Hub Coordinator at Nuvoni Centre for Innovation Research in Kenya spoke about the need for just urban transitions. She expanded on how out-of-context guidelines & tools developed by the Global North are not locally relevant and fail to work effectively in the Global South. She pointed out that many indigenous innovations are being ignored despite having great potential. By utilizing the concept of frugality, these solutions could be brought to the public realm and benefit more people, with fewer resources. Hati advocates for shifting from community participation to community partnership, where communities are active contributors rather than passive participants.

"Challenging the misfit narratives associated with Africa is crucial to fostering more accurate and empowering perspectives."

Synergies between old and new governance systems

Mandipa Bongiwe Ndlou, PhD candidate at the African Studies Centre Leiden, highlighted the need for Global South theorizing and creating synergies between old and new governance systems. With ten of the most climate-vulnerable cities located in Africa, proactive models of urban development are required. Ndlou emphasised the importance of considering intergenerational relations and investing in systems that facilitate sustainable urban development.

Lock-in bypass in urban development

Dr. Shuaib Lwasa, Professor of Urban Resilience and Global Development at the International Institute of Social Studies, stressed seizing the opportunity for policy and lock-in bypass in urban development. Lwasa highlighted the dependence on existing systems and the need to transition towards more sustainable alternatives. He encouraged appreciating the available resources and recognizing the opportunities present in Africa. Deconstructing risk in urban development and mobilizing financing to ensure an inclusive transition are also critical aspects to address.

"We need to understand the importance of collective action, urging everyone to consider what we can do, starting from tomorrow, to contribute to a more sustainable urban future."

You might also like

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes