Author: Liza Cirolia, Researcher,Centre for African Cities attending ICLD Local Democracy Academy in Umeå 10-14th of June and have lectures under the thematic stream "Urban creativity and inclusive cities".
The scale and nature of the growth of cities in the global south is both daunting and exciting. After decades of (poorly informed) efforts to stem migration to cities, the global policy tides have shifted towards the embrace of urban growth and the celebration of cities in the south.
Southern cities often fail to conform to global city theories and policy prescripts. The do not fit neatly into the best practices of disciplinary theories developed in the global north. In doing so, they challenge academics, policy makers, and practitioners. They require thinking in new and different ways about what is going on, what should happen, and what is possible.
As a point of departure, many global south cities experience high levels of spatial fragmentation, informality, poverty, and inequality. These realities produce complexities on the ground, where access and inclusion in social and political life, public and private infrastructural systems, and economic opportunities are experienced in uneven and often unjust ways.
To confront these challenges, there is a clear need for creative urban practice (not just new or better policies!). These new (or revived) practices must be be informed by grounded realities and be committed to a propositional and just view for the future of southern cities. Creative urban practice, in this sense, is not limited to, on the one hand, smart technologies or, on the other, a romantic notion of the ingenuity of the poor (as it is commonly assumed). It instead must reflect a commitment to exploring alternative, hybrid, forward looking, and innovative ways of thinking and doing cities. These practices can be led by urban governments, communities, individuals, and the formal and informal private sector.
The participants in this session each bring their own expertise in particular cities and the innovative cases which have been tested there. Some of these cases are about cities (with a small c) – the interesting and creative dynamics of urban areas. Other cases are about Cities (with a big C) – the urban authorities which manage city areas. Read together, the papers allow us to see how urban inclusivity and innovation operate at the nexus between material urban dynamics and institutional practices of urban governance.
/Liza Cirolia, Researcher,Centre for African Cities