Knowledge Transfer Programme

The Knowledge Transfer Programme aims to create knowledge platforms that straddle the researcher-practitioner divide and are better positioned to develop nuanced policy responses to complex urban sustainability challenges facing Cape Town. Through these knowledge platforms new and different knowledge’s will be brought to bear on policy-making processes and the legibility of these processes, to those not directly involved, will be increased.

Approach to transferring knowledge

Within the Knowledge Transfer Programme, 4 academic researchers are ‘embedded’ in relevant departments of Cape Town’s local government, the City of Cape Town, for 7 months a year over 3 years to work on specified policy areas. These policy areas were jointly selected by the City of Cape Town and the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at the University of Cape Town as urban sustainability priorities for the city that could benefit from new knowledge, namely:

  • Designing a green economy
  • Addressing climate change
  • Reconfiguring the spatial distribution of the local economy
  • Governing the energy system

Policy process

The researchers are supporting the policy process by contributing new knowledge, establishing and strengthening reference groups made up of stakeholders from within local government, higher spheres of government, the private sector and civil society organisations to share perspectives and debate options, and documenting the process of knowledge flows and public decision-making.

In turn, City officials with a deep involvement in urban sustainability policy development are selected to spend a total of 2 months at the University of Cape Town receiving guidance and support in writing and publishing their account of policy development on their respective focus areas. They thereby contribute to making policy processes more legible and disseminating practical knowledge and experiences of urban (un)sustainability.

Film: Adapting to a changing climate in Southern Africa

This short film captures the key messages and debates emerging from the first Southern Africa Adaptation Colloquium, held in November 2013 and co-hosted by Mistra Urban Futures Cape Town platform’s Climate Change Think Tank, a partnership within the Knowledge Transfer Programme. Members of the partnership include The University of Cape Town’s African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI), the Adaptation Network, SANBI, the National Implementing Entity for the Adaptation Fund, the National Research Foundation, and the Western Cape Government. The film was produced to make available the discussions to audiences that weren’t able to attend the Colloquium – particularly people working with local government in African cities.



Updates: Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of Cape Town Officials Exchange Programme

Round 1 commenced in November 2012 with 6 City officials taking part and four articles produced, co-authored by participants from the City and researchers, including "No messing in Bonteheuwel" about the transition from a degraded local environment to a place that the community is proud of.

Lessons learnt from the three years cover a discussion on the development of co-creation and co-production of knowledge in the City

The second round of the Cape Town LIP Officials Exchange Programme started in September 2013, with the number of City Officials increasing from 6 in the first round to 8 candidates being selected to write in partnership with supervisors from the University of Cape Town

The third round of officials from the City recently met with their writing partners for a workshop.


  • Co-producing urban knowledge: experimenting with alternatives to ‘best practice’ for Cape Town, South Africa
    Patel, Z., Greyling, S., Parnell, S. & Pirie, G. International Development Planning Review, vol. 37, no. 2, 2015, pp. 187-203
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Polycentric development in the Cape Town city-region: Empirical assessment and consideration of spatial policy implications
    Sinclair-Smith, K. Development Southern Africa, vol. 32, no. 2, 2015, 131-150
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Co-producing knowledge for whom, and to what end? Reflections from the African Centre for Cities in Cape Town
    Smit, W., Lawhon, M. & Patel, Z. In Co-producing Knowledge for Sustainable Cities: Joining Forces for Change, M. Polk (ed). Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2015, pp. 47-69
    Location:Cape Town, Global Type:Book chapter
  • Climate Change, Energy, Food Systems and Food Security: a Complex Interaction
    Roux, S. /Unpublished report, 2012
    Location:Cape Town Type:Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
  • Co-producing knowledge on urban sustainability through local government-university interactions: A case study of Mistra Urban Futures in Cape Town
    Lawhon, M., Taylor, A., & Patel, Z. ICLEI State of African Cities Report 2012. ICLEI - The Global Cities Network, 2012
    Location:Cape Town Type:Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
  • Strengthening Climate Resilience in African Cities: A Framework for Working with Informality
    Taylor, A. & Peter, C. Working Paper. Cape Town, South Africa: African Center for Cities and Climate & Development Knowledge Network, 2014
    Location:Cape Town Type:Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
  • Perceptions and responses to urban flood risk: implications for climate governance in the South
    Fatti, C. & Patel, Z. Applied Geography: Constraints and Opportunities in Urban Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, vol. 36, 2013, pp. 13–22
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Drawing a line in the sand: managing coastal risks in the City Of Cape Town
    Taylor, A., Cartwright, A. & Colenbrander, D. South African Geographical Journal, 2014, DOI:10.1080/03736245.2014.924865
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Value capture mechanisms in South Africa - conditions for their successful use in the current legal context
    McGaffin, R., Napier, M., & Gavera, L. Urban Forum, 2014, DOI 10.1007/s12132-013-9211-3
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Economics of climate change adaptation at the local scale under conditions of uncertainty and resource constraints: the case of Durban, South Africa
    Cartwright, A., Blignaut, J., De Wit, M., Mander, M., Goldman, K., O’Donoghue, S. & Roberts, D. Environment and Urbanization, vol. 25, no. 1, 2013, pp. 139-156
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Scalar politics and local sustainability: rethinking governance and justice in an era of political and environmental change
    Lawhon, M. & Patel, Z. Environment and Planning, vol. 31, no. 6, 2013, pp. 1048-1062
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Knowing what ’smart’ actually is when it comes to cities
    McGaffin, R. Urban Green File, vol 17, no 1, 2013, pp. 12-16
    Location:Cape Town Type:Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
  • Theewaterskloof Green Economy: a renewable energy and green business opportunity scoping study
    Cartwright, A. South Africa: Econologic, 2011
    Location:Cape Town Type:Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
  • The case for a green economy in cities
    Cartwright, A. In 2013 State of City Finances: Towards Sustainable Municipal Finances, Davidsson, K. (ed.). Braamfontein, South Africa: South African Cities Network, 2013, pp. 121-144
    Location:Cape Town Type:Report/Paper/Working paper/Brief
  • Constitution Hill: just space or space of justice?
    Patel, Z. & van der Merwe, C. In Architecture and Justice: Judicial Meanings in the Public Realm, J. Simon, N. Temple and R. Tobe (eds.). Ashgate, 2013
    Location:Cape Town Type:Book chapter
  • Can mega-events deliver sustainability? The case of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa
    Cartwright, A. In International Handbook on the Economics of Mega Sporting Events, W. Maennig and A. Zimbalist (eds.). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012, pp. 127-139
    Location:Cape Town Type:Book chapter
  • South Africa’s three waves of environmental policy: (mis) aligning the goals of sustainable development, environmental justice and climate change
    Patel, Z. Geography Compass, vol. 8, no. 3, 2014, pp. 169-181
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • ‘No messing in Bonteheuwel’: Tracing the transition to a virtuous cycle of community development
    Arendse, W. & Patel, Z. Town and Regional Planning,vol. 65, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1-11
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Linking spatial planning and land use management in the City of Cape Town: the case of the package of plans
    Steenkamp, L. & Winkler, T. Urban Forum, 2014, DOI 10.1007/s12132-013-9216-y
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
  • Methods and considerations for determining urban growth boundaries: an evaluation of the Cape Town experience
    Sinclair-Smith, K. Urban Forum, 2013, DOI 10.1007/s12132-013-9207-z
    Location:Cape Town Type:Scientific article (peer-reviewed)


  • Climate change workshop report

Project members

  • Zarina Patel

    Zarina Patel is director of the Mistra Urban Futures platform in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a researcher at the University of Cape Town, ACC African Centre for Cities.

    Contact me
Robert McGaffin
Saul Roux
Anton Cartwright
Anna Taylor