Co-producing urban expertise for SDG localization: the history and practices of urban knowledge production in South Africa

Sylvia Croese and James Duminy co-authored this paper on the co-production of urban expertise for SDG localisation, published in Urban Geography.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are used as an entry point to consider issues and questions surrounding the forms of urban expertise that are required to achieve transformative and sustainable urban development. The article builds on the authors’ experiences as researchers working co-productively with South African municipalities through the African Centre for Cities, an interdisciplinary research hub at the University of Cape Town. Insights from the literature on urban policy mobilities are deployed alongside those from an emerging literature on transdisciplinary research and knowledge co-production for global policy implementation. The aims are, first, to identify emerging kinds of urban expertise that are produced and mobilized by constellations of actors involved in the advancement of global development policies at the city scale and, second, to examine the role of city-university partnerships in producing particular forms of urban expertise to support SDG localization. Locating this work within a longer genealogy of urban governance reform in South Africa, it is shown that the conditions under which effective co-productive relationships can be built and institutionalized are highly context specific and geographically uneven. Understanding and assembling such conditions will enable cities to benefit from the forms of expertise these can engender.