Positioning Urban Policy

We are delighted to welcome Professor Susan Parnell (GCRF Chair in Urban Development, School of Geography, University of Bristol and Emeritus Professor, and University of Cape Town)


There are no easy answers to the deep urban crisis that cuts across cities and towns of all global regions and almost every aspect of contemporary urban life. Radical new ideas about urban design and dynamics as well as better applications of existing knowledge are pre-requisites to halting the currently unstainable global urban development path. Identifying what might unlock progress on the 2030 Agenda should provide the starting point not the end point of a new radical global urban scholarship, not least because there is a political commitment from all nation states to a new course of action in and through cities. If realized, even in part, this will be fairer and more sustainable than the current regime of settlement management. However, it is unclear how existing (and future) urban studies/science might shape the large-scale changes that are implied by the SDGs and other global urban agreements. Urban scholars can appear curiously removed from the imperatives of city management.

Using the urban policy imperatives of the SDGs, this paper seeks to demonstrate how the fragmented conceptual and methodological optics of the global urban might, when focused on application, be reconstituted in ways that absorb the at times conflicting rationalities of the underlying scholarship to provide composite perspectives on emergent global urban trends, patterns, dynamics – and choices - that are necessary to inform policy choices and implementation priorities.

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