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WEBINAR | Localizing the SDGs in African Cities

2 May, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm SAST

On the first UN Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa Day, 2 May 2023, 15:00 SAST, the International Science Council together with the African Centre for Cities present this webinar aimed at exploring effective ways of accelerating local action towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in African cities.

The African continent represents the key hub in the global transition to a predominantly urban world, with an urban population that is expected to grow threefold by 2050.This unprecedented scale and speed of urbanization comes with new and intensified challenges at the economic, social, and environmental level, which will greatly determine the ways in which cities will grow and develop. If “cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost”, the fate of African cities will have major implications for the extent to which the world will be able to achieve globally agreed development goals, such as the SDGs by the year 2030 and beyond.

Implementing the SDGs does not take place in a vacuum, as the way in which global and local processes come together in any location are shaped by local history, geography, and politics, among others. Therefore, a recognition of both the global and local significance of the role of African cities requires a much better understanding of the nature, drivers, and management of urbanization, not just in the continent’s megacities but also in its vast number of small- and intermediate-sized towns. It also means interrogating our universally defined understandings of what sustainable development means and the ways in which we think it can be achieved and measured in the African (urban) context.

  • What are the barriers and constraints to achieving sustainable urbanization in urban Africa? What are enabling factors and opportunities?
  • What is the role of local action and actors, and how can they be advanced?
  • Who are the movers and shakers?
  • And what do we know, and what do we still need to know, in order to answer these questions?

These are the questions that a cohort of African researchers, several of which are coming from the LIRA 2030 Africa community, sought to address in the recently published book Localizing the SDGs in African Cities.

To launch the book and discuss with authors about their practical experiences of how the SDGs can be adapted to and implemented at the local level in ways that contribute to sustainable urbanization, the ISC will convene this webinar on 2 May 2023.


  • Katsia Paulavets, LIRA Programme manager, International Science Council

Opening remarks

  • Shipra Narang, Chief, Urban Practices Branch, Global Solutions Division, UN-Habitat


  • Susan Parnell, Global Challenges Research Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Bristol and Emeritus Professor at the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town
  • Sylvia Croese, Senior Researcher in the School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand and Research Associate at the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town


  • Kareem Buyana – Researcher at Urban Action Lab (UAL), Makerere University Uganda
  • Safietou Sanfo – Agricultural Economist, Senior Scientist at WASCAL/Associate Professor at Université Thomas Sankara, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
  • Peter Elias, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, Nigeria
  • Gilbert Siame, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture and Planning Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) andDepartment of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Zambia

Open discussion

Moderated by Katsia Paulavets



2 May, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm SAST
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