Lawhon, M., Taylor, A., and Patel, Z. (2012) Co-producing knowledge on urban sustainability through local government-university interactions: A case study of Mistra Urban Futures in Cape Town, ICLEI State of African Cities Report.


The City of Cape Town and the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town have established a formal partnership to collaboratively improve knowledge and enhance wellbeing in the city. The two institutions are participating in the international research programme Mistra Urban Futures (MUF) which seeks to conduct in-depth local research on urban sustainability governance and policy and compare findings across five different cities. Cape Town has both a growing economy and a diverse but highly unequal society, and its urban form continues to contribute to inequality and unsustainability. Cape Town’s carbon footrpint is relatively high, and – along with the rest of South Africa – it suffers from energy insecurity. Ensuring universal access to basic services remains a challenge. This combination of factors provides the opportunity for the city to adapt to change, while also subjecting it to vulnerabilities. The City of Cape Town has introduced a number of policies which seek to create a more socially, ecologically and economically sustainable and resilient city, and the ACC has engaged with the City through various projects to encourage debate and share knowledge on this and other topics.