Local responses to global sustainability agendas: learning from experimenting with the urban sustainable development goal in Cape Town

Zarina Patel, Saskia Greyling, David Simon, Helen Arfvidsson, Nishendra Moodley, Natasha Primo, Carol Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The success of the Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11) depends on the availability and acces- sibility of robust data, as well as the reconfiguration of governance systems that can catalyse urban transformation. Given the uneven success of the Millennium Development Goals, and the unprecedented inclusion of the urban in the SDG process, the feasibility of SDG 11 was assessed in advance of its ratification through a series of urban experiments. This paper focusses on Cape Town’s partic- ipation in piloting SDG 11, in order to explore the role of urban experimentation in highlighting the partnership arrangements necessary to allow cities to meet the data and governance challenges presented by the SDG 11. Specifi- cally, we focus on the relationship between data andgovernance that lie at the heart of the SDG 11. The urban experiment demonstrates the highly complex and multi- level governance dynamics that shape the way urban experiments are initiated, executed and concluded. The implications of these dependencies illustrate that more attention needs to be paid at the global level to what data are important and how and where the data are generated if SDG 11 is to be met. Overall, this paper makes the case that the success of SDG 11 rests on effecting local level change and enabling real opportunities in cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785–797
Number of pages13
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2017


  • urban experimentation
  • data and governance
  • SDG 11
  • Cape Town
  • Co-production

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