Photography by:
  • Teboho Ntsamai

Just sustainability transitions

Transforming society and bringing about justice in post-apartheid South Africa is a challenge that is especially evident in the Gauteng city-region (GCR). The GCR attracts people from across the country, continent and around the world because of the available opportunities and services. However, the potential for a high quality of life is undermined by the inequality and unsustainability entrenched in the spatial form and function of the city-region. It is argued that improving the quality of life of all GCR residents, requires that social justice and sustainability agendas be considered together, which will require a fundamental shift in the current system and the decision-making processes that shape it. Although service delivery and improved access to services help to meet human rights objectives, the current development trajectory in the GCR is very consumptive and is not consistent with sustainable development objectives.

This research explores the potential for infrastructure transitions to meet the growing demand for urban-based amenities, while building a more just and sustainable city-region. This project furthers research toward understanding the ‘Green Agenda’ in the GCR.


The first phase of this project involves establishing the theoretical framework, through a review of the relevant literature. A framing paper, entitled ‘Social justice and sustainability transitions in the Gauteng City-Region’ was presented at the 2015 RC21 conference in Urbino, Italy held 27-29 August 2015. Additional details about the paper and the conference are available here.

The second phase of the project will use a set of case studies to explore the justice and political economy implications of sustainability transitions in the GCR. The case studies will be assembled into a GCRO research report.



Christina Culwick (August 2015). ‘Social justice and sustainability transitions in the Gauteng City-Region’, RC21 Conference, Urbino, Italy, 28 August 2015


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