Learning from Kisumu

New railway community development, Khaleb the bookseller, waste actors, new models for sustainability – theoretical, practical and very personal stories made Mistra Urban Futures’ Second Annual International Conference in Kisumu from 13-14 November 2017 both a memorable and thought-provoking event.

Sub-titled ‘Learning through comparison’, the conference highlighted the eleven comparative projects that now form the lion’s share of Mistra Urban Futures’ research portfolio, supported by the keynote talks by two leading African urban specialists, Caroline Wanjiku Kihato and Edgar Pieterse, who are both associated with the Centre. The comparative projects cover a wide range of topics, from solid waste management to sustainable neighbourhoods, from urban food chains to the significance of cultural heritage for sustainable development.

At the same time, all projects contribute to the overarching theme of ‘Realising Just Cities’. In most cases, projects are based on local activities at one or several of the Centre’s Local Interaction Platforms. The Platforms form both the enabling environment for, and part of, the reflective research methodology, because through local partnerships between academy and other partners like the public sector, NGOs, local companies, the co-creation of new knowledge for sustainability is enabled.

In parallel with the conference, almost all of the eleven projects took the opportunity to arrange partner workshops, to kick-start the next working phase and to strengthen the networks and partnerships of each of the teams.

The teambuilding efforts were emphasised elegantly and with great hospitality by the Kenyan hosts, the i.e. the Mistra Urban Futures Kisumu Local Interaction Platform and its Trustees, through field visits and meals. Furthermore, the significance of the conference was underscored by the participation of the Governor of Kisumu County, HE Peter Anyang Nyong’o; Hon Nerry Achar, the incoming County cabinet minister for Infrastructure; the former Mayor of Kisumu, Mr Sam Okello; and the Rector (President) of Chalmers, Prof Stefan Bengtsson, as well as diverse members of local civil society. In keeping with the Centre’s transdisciplinary approach, the teams from all Local Interaction Platforms comprised both academics and practitioners.

The third Annual Conference will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, 5-7 November 2018.

The story of Khaleb the Bookseller was part of the keynote presentation by Caroline Winjuku Kihato, and will be published as a blog post, as well as on Mistra Urban Futures’ YouTube channel – like the rest of the presentations.

Picture: Dunga Beach. Text and photo: Jan Riise
For more information please contact Jan Riise, phone +46 708 233377