Strong GCRO representation at the ACC Urban Conference

  • GCRO
  • Date of publication: 09 February 2018

Last week (1-3 February 2018), GCRO made a splash at the ACC International Urban Conference 2018 in Cape Town despite the city’s water crisis. GCRO had a delegation of 11 researchers who showcased their research through 16 presentations organised three panels and chaired another two.

Christina Culwick co-ordinated a two-part panel on Just Sustainability. These panels showcased the emerging research of a research collective that explores the complexities around concurrently navigating social justice and environmental sustainability imperatives. The panel featured presentations by GCRO's Gillian Maree, Graeme Götz and Christina Culwick, together with other researchers who are part of the research collective.

Richard Ballard chaired a panel on his research project, The Scale of Belonging, with presentations on four case studies by Christian Hamann, Ngaka Mosiane, Luke Spiropoulos and Richard Ballard. The research explores people's relationship to the real and perceived boundaries of space and politics. Richard presented a second paper on transnational urbanism on the panel 'International perspective on mega-scale projects: Johannesburg, Shanghai and London and also participated in a roundtable on publishing as editor of Transformation providing advice for publishing in urban studies.

Transport was a key theme of the conference and Jesse Harber discussed Johannesburg's 'Corridors of Freedom' in a panel on 'The political economy of Transit-Oriented Development'. Ngaka Mosiane detailed his work on Rustenburg as part of a larger project exploring the periphery of the Gauteng city-region on the panel 'Living the periphery: making a living on the periphery'.

Two of the conference panels came out of the ongoing research partnership between GCRO and UCL STEaPP. The first panel, 'Knowledge use and decision-making for urban green infrastructure' drew on GCRO's ongoing research into Green Assets and Infrastructure. This panel saw presentations by Carla Washbourne (UCL STEaPP), and GCRO researchers Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Christina Culwick and Gillian Maree. The second session, entitled 'Shaping informed cities: urban observatories in the New Urban Agenda', draws on an ongoing UCL STEaPP / GCRO collaborative programme of work to catalogue and analyse activities of existing observatories with a view to understanding different operating contexts and factors for effectiveness. This panel saw reflections from Michele Acuto and Carla Washbourne on emerging research into global urban observatories. Christina Culwick presented on GCRO as a working example of such an observatory, and David Simon discussed the Mistra Urban Futures programme as another example of embedded research at the academia-policy interface. This session is linked to the GCRO / STEaPP Networking Event which will be hosted at the 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, 8-13 February 2018.

The Taking streets seriously project made two presentations on streets in Gauteng. Alexandra Parker discussed public space in Killarney on the panel 'Public space, place and city practices' and Mamokete Matjomane discussed the informal street traders of De Villiers St on the panel 'Work on the street: claiming space in the city'. The release of GCRO's 8th research report, Taking streets seriously, was timed to come out at the conference to reach as many interested people as possible. The GCRO team quickly dispensed 100 hard copies of the Taking Streets Seriously report which generated a buzz and engagement with the GCRO's research.

Attendance at the International Urban Conference was a success with the GCRO's research showcased across diverse topics and our researchers participating in conversations and debates around the critical issues affecting urban environments today.


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