Accepted paper:

Urban Change Agents in Cape Town as Drivers for a Low-Carbon Transition


Nadine Kuhla von Bergmann (TU Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

African cities are struggling to implement measures to respond to climate change due to the lack of municipal assets. On the example of Cape Town, this paper introduces the concept of Urban Change Agents (UCAs) as alternative approach to drive low-carbon transitions with limited assets and resources.

Paper long abstract:

In the majority of cities, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are developed by municipalities in collaboration with experts from the fields of climate science, energy, economics, technology and urban planning. Besides ambitious goals, African cities are struggling with economical and human resources to implement sustainable measures due to the lack of municipal assets such as administrative power, financial resources and urban development tools (ARUP and C40 cities, 2015). Meanwhile, the same cities act as the breeding grounds for innovative bottom-up solutions and creative start-ups that are transforming urban environments and shaping urban systems on the base of limited resources and finances (Seyfang and Smith, 2007). In this paper, creative actors and innovative Urban Change Agents (UCAs) are acknowledged as potential drivers for climate actions. The results presented derive from recent field research in Cape Town, South Africa, and give an insight about barriers and opportunities of grassroots , start-ups and creative agencies who are active in the process of low-carbon urban transition. The paper argues the following questions: How can African cities benefit from such initiatives and actors in their pathways to low carbon urban futures? How can creative small businesses be more integrated into top-down climate change planning instruments? What would support the up-scaling and multiplication of innovative and non-established operational models of self-driven climate-friendly initiatives? How could the impacts be measured?

panel P200
Sustainable Cities in Africa: plans, dreams, and practices