Sustainable Urbanisation III

Over the next four decades, the global urban population is expected to nearly double, with the vast majority of this happening in Asian and African cities. This massive process of social transformation has major implications for how we think about poverty eradication and environmental sustainability. A business-as-usual scenario means rising urban inequality and conflicts, underpinned by accelerated resource depletion and negative carbon-induced environmental impacts.

Alternatives are unlikely to be derived top-down from global agreements or National Government policies. City-based coalitions of the willing are emerging to tackle these challenges from below in context-specific ways. If these coalitions are going to have a positive impact, much will depend on whether an alternative mode of urban governance emerges that appropriately responds to the underlying challenges by actively promoting these coalitions for change. This is why the third Sustainable Urbanization seminar was devoted to the core theme of urban governance. The core question was what modes of urban governance are emerging across the developed and developing world to demonstrate that it is possible to tackle the underlying challenges of urban growth, urban poverty and environmental unsustainability?

The seminar took place from 9-13 September 2015 in Durban, South Africa. It was organised by the ISSC in partnership with The Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP,, the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project (UGEC, and the Cities Alliance ( It was generously hosted by the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) of etThekwini Municipality and the University of KwaZulu Natal.

The Quest for Governance Modes on Sustainable Urbanization - World Social Science Fellows report on the meeting for The Nature of Cities.

Fellow Alisa Zomer reports on her experiences in Durban in a photo essay here.

Fellow Martín Maldonado reports on the seminar here (in Spanish).