Centre Stories


The history and impact of Mistra Urban Futures can be told in many ways. One of them is to collect a number of voices of people in a wide range of capacities who have been involved in the first five years of the Centre, 2010-2015.

Anneli Hulthén and Rose Kisia Omondi, the Mayor of Gothenburg (2008-2016) and the Minister of Tourism of the County of Kisumu respectively, represent the political spheres. They both see the benefits of bringing researchers and thus research results closer to the political agenda and the local work of counties, cities and municipalities, in order to bring better lives to citizens through sustainable urban development. 

Ulf MobackMark Atherton and Sarah Ward and are senior city officials in Gothenburg,  Manchester and Cape Town, respectively. They have participated in different ways, and therefore see Mistra Urban Futures from slightly different angles – as project manager of one of the Centre’s pilot projects , as a way to reach out and as supervisor of a knowledge transfer project.

Mistra Urban Futures’ transdisciplinary approach is also reflected in the participation of other stakeholders, not least from the private sector. Steve Connors, director of a communications agency in Manchester, and Munira Gilani, owner and director of the Imperial Hotel in Kisumu, are both engaged in the work of the Centre, and provide some of the ‘hands-on’ experience and entrepreneurship that translate research results into action.

Vincent Walsh is an entrepreneur and researcher in Manchester who is developing the Biospheric Project, which challenges the way we think about urban farming and the use of land and governance. John Steve Okumu at Dunga Beach in Kisumu is a former fisherman who now is exploring new opportunities as more tourists come to visit the region.

Finally, the researchers themselves express their views on the collaborative approach and transdisciplinary research design. John Holmberg, professor and Vice Dean at Chalmers, talks about developing new tools to better understand sustainability challenges. Lisa Bomble, a PhD student at Chalmers, observes the development of dialogue between municipality officials and citizens. In Kisumu, a collaboration among PhD students from Sweden and Kenya has been the basis for the design of new products and opportunities to create new markets for people in Kisumu County; Helena Hansson and Jennifer Adhiambo Otieno tell the story. Another important measure is to bring the urban planners closer to the real-life conditions of the people for whom they are planning. Peter Ngau at the University of Nairobi has moved the studio out of the academy and into the neighbourhoods. Lastly, Rob McGaffin and Warren Smit, both at the University of Cape Town, reflect on the advantages brought by the collaboration within the Mistra Urban Futures network. McGaffin talks about the global knowledge gaps that are identified through the cooperative work, and Smit highlights the important opportunities for comparative studies that the network provides.

The interviews have been carried out by an independent science journalist with researchers, stakeholders and partners of Mistra Urban Futures. The main subject has been the impact of the research activities of Mistra Urban Futures that is possible to identify already after a few years of research.


Anneli Hulthén, City of Gothenburg, Mayor and Chair of Executive Committee

Dr Rose Omondi, Minister of Tourism, Kisumu County

Ulf Moback, City of Gothenburg, Coordinator, Climate Change Strategies

Mark Atherton, Association of Greater Manchester Auhtorities

Sarah Ward, City of Cape Town, Head of Energy and Climate Change

Steve Connors, CEO, Creative Concern, Manchester

Munira Gilani, Director, Imperial Hotel, Kisumu

Vincent Walsh, Founder, Biospheric Foundation, Manchester

John Steve Okumu, Guide, Dunga Beach, Kisumu

John Holmberg, Professor and Vice Rector of Chalmers University of Technology

Lisa Bomble, PhD student, Chalmers University of Technology

Jennifer Adhiambo Otieno and Helena Hansson, PhD students in Kisumu

Peter Ngau, Associate Professor, University of Nairobi

Rob McGaffin, Phd Candidate, Lecutrer, University of Cape Town

Warren Smit, CityLab Manager, African Centre for Cities