International Development Planning Review

Urban equality and the SDGs: three provocations for a relational agenda

International Development Planning Review (2022), 44, (1), 13–32.

Abstract

We live in an increasingly urban, increasingly unequal world. This is nowhere more evident than in cities of the global South, where many residents face deep injustices in their ability to access vital services, participate in decision-making or to have their rights recognised as citizens. In this regard, the rallying cry of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ‘leave no one behind’ offers significant potential to guide urbanisation processes towards more equitable outcomes, particularly for the urban poor.

Yet the SDGs have also faced a series of criticisms which have highlighted the gaps and silences in moving towards a transformative agenda. This article explores the potentials of adopting a relational lens to read the SDGs, as a mechanism to navigate these internal contradictions and critiques and build pathways to urban equality. In particular, it offers three questions if we want to place urban equality at the heart of the agenda: who owns the city; who produces knowledge about the city; and who is visible in the city? Drawing from the practices of organised groups of the urban poor, this article outlines the key lessons for orienting this agenda towards the relational and transformative aims of urban equality.

Published open access under a CC BY licence. https://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/

Urban equality and the SDGs: three provocations for a relational agenda

Abstract

We live in an increasingly urban, increasingly unequal world. This is nowhere more evident than in cities of the global South, where many residents face deep injustices in their ability to access vital services, participate in decision-making or to have their rights recognised as citizens. In this regard, the rallying cry of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ‘leave no one behind’ offers significant potential to guide urbanisation processes towards more equitable outcomes, particularly for the urban poor.

Yet the SDGs have also faced a series of criticisms which have highlighted the gaps and silences in moving towards a transformative agenda. This article explores the potentials of adopting a relational lens to read the SDGs, as a mechanism to navigate these internal contradictions and critiques and build pathways to urban equality. In particular, it offers three questions if we want to place urban equality at the heart of the agenda: who owns the city; who produces knowledge about the city; and who is visible in the city? Drawing from the practices of organised groups of the urban poor, this article outlines the key lessons for orienting this agenda towards the relational and transformative aims of urban equality.

Published open access under a CC BY licence. https://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/

Introduction

We live in an increasingly urban, increasingly inequitable world. Three-quarters of cities are now more unequal than in 1996, with the proportion of global urban dwellers set to reach an estimated 68 per cent of the world’s population by 2050 (DESA-UNPD, 2019). The vital importance of addressing these overlapping issues has been well acknowledged in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are framed around the commitment to leave ‘no person’ and ‘no place’ behind, and with explicit goals (SDG 10) to ‘reduce inequality within and among countries’, and to achieve ‘sustainable cities and communities’ (SDG 11). With this, the ‘2030 Agenda’ sets out the clear imperative for inclusive urbanisation processes if the ambitious aims of the agenda are to be achieved.

While deep urban inequalities are experienced across global North and South alike, the scale of these challenges is perhaps nowhere more evident than for the nearly one billion urban residents residing in informal settlements in cities across the global South. Here, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, the commodification of land and housing, and/or a lack of regulations on private capital or labour have generated deep social and spatial inequalities - manifesting in deprivations in access to vital services, dignified housing, or secure employment (Desai and Loftus, 2013; Soederberg and Walks, 2018). These exclusions are compounded by political marginalisation and shaped by identity and status, meaning that urban challenges are experienced differently across intersecting facets of class, gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion, sexuality, ability or other dimensions (Kabeer, 2016; Chant, 2013). Within this context, the fundamental call of the SDGs to leave no one behind’ as a part of ‘transforming our world’, has been lauded as a key tool to support the articulation of pathways to urban equality - a universal agenda that can be appropriated by progressive actors to build more sustainable futures.

Despite the unique potential of this agenda, various critiques emerging across academia and practice also encourage caution. These critiques have identified a range of factors which may undermine the radical possibilities of the agenda: internal contradictions across the different goals; as an apolitical ‘wish-list’; or with limitations to monitoring the ambitious 169 targets and 231 indicators (Liverman, 2018; Kaika, 2017; Esquivel, 2016; Razavi, 2016; Sexsmith and McMichael, 2015). While the eradication of poverty and inequalities features within many goals, the agenda does not always well acknowledge the relations which structure inequality - concentrations of wealth, decision-making authority, knowledge or social status, which are unevenly experienced across diverse social groups - or their specific manifestations in urban areas (Gupta and Vegelin, 2016; Fukuda-Parr, 2019). For such critics, the potential for the SDGs to legitimate ‘business as usual’ may further entrench, rather than alleviate, the exclusions of urban poor communities, falling short of its ‘transformative’ potential.

Nonetheless, significant engagements towards localisation, involving city and national governments, civil society groups and research institutions amongst others, has indicated the continued value of this global framework in guiding policy and practice. Recognising the continued relevance of the SDGs, this article explores the potentials of adopting a relational lens to read the SDGs, as a mechanism to navigate these internal contradictions and critiques of the framework, and build pathways to urban equality. It does so by offering three provocations, querying what it means to place urban equality - and in particular, the needs and aspirations of diverse groups of the urban poor - at the centre of this agenda. It does so through three questions: who owns the city? who produces knowledge about the city? and who is visible in the city? Drawing examples from the grounded practices of organised groups of the urban poor, these questions are used to explore the interplay of unequal relations in the city and how these relations shape the opportunities and limitations of the agenda. In doing so, this article charts a research agenda for further learning on: policies and practices which speak to the ‘transformative’ aims of the agenda; the capacities required to co-produce knowledge about the city; and the methods which can speak to cultural realities, social relations and local histories. In doing so, it reflects on the opportunities to leverage on the SDGs, to better attend to the specific concerns of urban equality, towards a relational and transformative agenda.1

Urban equality: towards a relational agenda

Globally, the pressing challenges of urban inequalities have been well acknowledged, in response to the fact that while absolute poverty has lowered, ‘extreme’ inequality is on the rise (UN-Habitat, 2014a). This recognition is enshrined within the 2030 Agenda, which at its heart contains the proposition to ‘leave no people’ and ‘leave no place behind’, and a specific goal (10) on reducing inequalities between and amongst countries. The ‘historic shift’ (Revi, 2016) of the agenda towards a universal declaration, rather than focusing on ‘developing’ countries, likewise makes clear the interconnected global dimensions of inequality and sustainability. If taken seriously, this call would imply the radical proposition to mainstream concerns of power and equality across the seventeen goals, with the mandate to focus on the most vulnerable populations. These acknowledgements represent a marked change from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which have been criticised for focusing more narrowly on poverty in ‘developing’ nations, and on the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of easier to reach populations (Stuart and Woodroffe, 2016). As a ‘universal’ agenda - applicable across wealthy and poor counties - the SDGs have a significant role in both representing and shaping global development norms and practices.

The inclusion of a standalone urban goal (11) has likewise cemented the importance of urban areas for global sustainability aspirations. This goal is the result of a ‘pathbreaking’ (Parnell, 2016) and protracted process of advocacy across city networks, government actors and civil society groups in recognition of the central role of urban governance processes in shaping global futures. This ‘defining trend’ of urbanisation will manifest most significantly across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where rapidly expanding urban centres are already shaped by large concentrations of poverty, inequality and environmental degradation, particularly for residents in informal settlements. On the other hand, these cities are also understood to represent a major opportunity to address sustainability, harnessing density, innovation, and economies of scale, and drawing lessons from the ingenuity and incrementalism of urban living in the global South (SDSN, 2013). This emphasis on the potential of urban areas is reflected in a wider shift in global policy frameworks towards a ‘global urban agenda’ (Parnell, 2016), from the New Urban Agenda (NUA) to the sub-national focus within the Paris Agreement for Climate Change (2015) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015).

Despite these important acknowledgements, the SDGs have also come under scrutiny about the extent of their transformative potential, with implications for urban equality. That is, scholarship has highlighted the range of relations through which inequalities are produced and experienced spatially, socially, environmentally and politically - which may not be well accounted for within the SDGs. For instance, the ‘relational’ turn in poverty studies has long argued that poverty and privilege are mutually imbricated, and suggested that the focus within global development on measurement and benchmarking can elide a deeper analysis of the structural drivers of poverty (Mosse, 2010; Elwood et al., 2017; Rao, 2017). For these authors, a relational approach instead seeks to reveal how historical processes, culture and social-power relations intersect to shape everyday deprivations rather than simply addressing (and measuring) the manifestations of poverty. This approach likewise resonates with Fraser’s (1995) work on justice and her distinction between ‘affirmative’ strategies, which address unequal outcomes, and ‘transformative’ strategies, which address the processes responsible for the production of injustices - in other words, challenging the capitalist, gendered, colonialist or nationalist relations that produce inequalities, and not simply on increasing access to unevenly distributed social goods (Gupta et al., 2015).

Elsewhere, reflections from Southern urban theory have highlighted the ‘relational geographies’ of inequality (Bhan, 2019), or the colonial and capitalist relations between North and South that produce inequalities and privilege across scales and space. Understanding ‘the South’ as a mode of unequal relations has roots in post and de-colonial thinking, which have sought to unsettle hegemonies of knowledge and practice (Lawhon and Truelove, 2020). Relational thinking, in this case, has drawn attention not only to the material production of inequities but also as embedded in the uneven politics of knowledge production and exchange (Roy, 2009; McFarlane, 2006). Crucially, Southern epistemologies highlight how appeals to ‘universal’ knowledge claims have traditionally been Northern-centric, erasing (post)colonial histories (Roy, 2016; Bhan, 2019; Yiftachel, 2016) and raising key questions as to how universal frameworks such as the SDGs can account for specificity of ‘south-eastern’ conditions and trajectories. Thus in different ways, calls for a relational approach draw attention to global and local processes, cultural meanings and values, knowledge epistemes or social hierarchies which produce and sustain deprivations. These relations of inequality are often intertwined, generating interlocking deprivations in distributional, recognitional or representational terms (Fraser, 2010).

Adopting a relational lens to examine the SDGs generates particular implications for pursing urban equality. For instance, perhaps most well acknowledged within the agenda are the material distributional experiences of inequality, including and beyond income. In many urban centres of the global South, this is evidenced in the maldistribution of vital services and infrastructure or the uneven experience of environmental risks and hazards. And indeed, a number of SDG targets speak clearly to these material aspects of inequality, such as seeking ‘universal access’ to vital goods and services such as land, food, education, infrastructure, water, and energy (i.e. Targets 2.2; 3.7; 4.1; 7.1; 9.1; 11.7). However, the emphasis on ‘inclusion’ within the agenda has sometimes been critiqued for retaining the ‘poverty’ lens of the MDGs, focused on expanding access for excluded groups without addressing the broader global relations through which inequalities are produced (Kaika, 2017). For instance, critics have queried the contradictions within the agenda such as if ‘sustained 7% domestic growth’ (8.1) is consistent within the ecological limits of a finite planet (Hickel, 2019), and whether growth-centric models are compatible with labour rights, particularly for the most vulnerable (Razavi, 2016). Likewise, the agenda is silent on the privatisation of basic services - the commodification of housing and speculation on land - which have generated deep exclusions for lower-income or vulnerable residents of the city (Desai and Loftus, 2013; Soederberg and Walks, 2018). Adopting a relational lens calls precisely for a focus on these processes of capitalism, neoliberalism or commodification if the demands of the 2030 Agenda are to be met. While it is well acknowledged that the agenda should be read holistically, less is said on how to mediate these internal contradictions, or how inequalities are produced through these contemporary forms of urban development.

Likewise, inequalities may be exacerbated through political participation exclusions, with citizens - particularly low-income groups, undocumented residents or other marginalised or vulnerable groups - less able to influence the decision-making structures which impact their lives (Hammett, 2017). In this regard, the SDGs have targets aimed at enhancing representation in structures of decision-making (5.5; 11.3) as well as eliminating discriminatory ‘laws, policies, and practices’ (10.2). However, beyond inclusion into formal structures of governance, a relational approach also highlights deeper questions of how knowledge and authority are produced and circulated to shape decision-making (Caprotti et al., 2017; Mosse, 2010). These power asymmetries are reflected in the well-developed notion of the ‘tyranny of participation’ (Cooke and Kothari, 2001), as well as through invisible forms of ‘agenda setting’ power (Lukes, 2005), through which particular urban stakeholders - or forms of urban expertise - influence how inequalities are understood, measured and addressed. For instance, Target 10.2 sets out an ambitious aim to: ‘empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all’. Yet the indicator attached to this bold target reverts to measuring a proportion of income. This distinction between the ‘politically’ negotiated targets, and the ‘technical’ approach to indicator development and reporting risks obscuring the political values which will shape how ‘fuzzy’ concepts such as resilience, sustainability or inequality are measured and pursued (Fukuda-Parr, 2019; Kaika, 2017; Borie et al., 2019). Nor can these discussions of knowledge and power be separated from the uneven circulation of knowledge globally, which has privileged particular trajectories for the pursuit of sustainable urban development (Cociña et al., 2019). A relational approach draws attention to these important representational challenges: linked with which voices, knowledge and understandings are represented in processes of prioritisation, policy-making or monitoring.

Other approaches have focused on ‘horizontal inequalities’, or the ways particular social groups may be ‘(mis)recognized’ as a result of ethnicity, religion, caste, gender, or other identity affiliations (Kabeer, 2016; Chant, 2013). And indeed, within the 231 unique indicators, there are a number of explicit references to key social groups with a particular emphasis on gender, age and ability, and a target calling for capacitybuilding to produce disaggregated data (17.18). These acknowledgements, alongside the gender goal (5), have granted greater visibility to the role of social relations in shaping inequalities and the critical importance of producing fine-grained data on vulnerabilities across social groups. While an important progression, this approach does not necessarily account for intersecting deprivations or for how structural, contextual or cultural factors produce difference across social groups (Kabeer, 2016). A rich literature on intersectionality has unpacked how exclusions are unevenly experienced and compounded through overlapping dimensions of identity, requiring attention to the interstices of marginalisation beyond simple data disaggregation (Crenshaw, 1991; Nightingale, 2011; Castán Broto and Neves Alves, 2018). A relational approach to recognition also draws attention to the ‘two-way’ process of both the recognition of difference as well as the recognition of oppressed groups of their own rights. This approach, which Levy (2015) calls ‘reciprocal recognition’, also highlights processes of mobilisation, political agency or autonomy through which rights are ‘claimed’ by diverse social groups in the city.

These various critiques reflect the conflicting epistemologies which underpin the 2030 Agenda, indicative of the various urban expertise and ideologies involved in its formulation (Caprotti et al., 2017). Crucially, these contradictions are likely to become more pertinent through localisation as policy-makers adopt different routes towards operationalising the SDGs (Barnett and Parnell, 2016). Within this context, this article posits that a relational lens offers a way to navigate these contradictions and centre the perspectives of vulnerable groups across urban areas of the global South. That is, a relational lens asks how global and urban processes generate localised distributional inequities, which stakeholders can participate in knowledge production about the city, and how the rights and claims of diverse social groups are recognised. With a particular focus on urban equality, the following section frames these reflections through three provocations: who owns the city?; who produces knowledge about the city?; and who is visible in the city? Drawing from grounded practices and experiences of urban poor groups, this paper explores the lessons which emerge from adopting this relational approach to the SDGs, and the implications for future research and practice which speak to the radical transformative approaches of the 2030 Agenda.

Who owns the city?

This question: ‘who owns the city?’ was first posed by Sassen (2018) in the Quito Papers, referring to the commodification of the city through predatory corporate purchases of land and property. In adopting this question, this article highlights the wider political economy of the city, and particularly processes such as growth-first models of development, the privatisation of urban services and the financialisation of land and housing markets. A relational approach calls for policies and approaches which can challenge those urban processes which have manifested in the uneven access and control over goods such as water, housing, energy and land.

For instance, across cities of the global South and North, scholars and practitioners have examined the financialisation of land and housing, in which real estate has increasingly been seen as a means for accumulating wealth and traded and sold on global markets or through private investment (López-Morales, 2015; Patel et al., 2015; Desai and Loftus, 2013; Soederberg and Walks, 2018). A 2017 report by the UN special rapporteur on adequate housing is unequivocal: identifying clear patterns of ‘systemic exclusion’ as a direct result of the intrusion of international finance in housing systems, identifying its role in deepening spatial segregation, income inequalities, precarious or inadequate housing conditions and homelessness (Farha, 2017). Moreover, within many cities of the global South, these processes cannot be separated from the legacy of colonial relations and uneven processes of development. In Brazil, for instance, Garmany and Richmond (2020) outline the concept of higienização (hygienisation) to refer to forms of urban displacement which are informed not only by market forces but also shaped by race and class stigma inherited from colonial planning. Or in Delhi, Ghertner (2011) draws attention to role of ‘world class city’ visioning, in which ‘under-utilized’ land (occupied by slum dwellers) was identified and cleared to develop commercial properties. These accounts, and others (Leitner and Sheppard, 2018; Desai and Loftus, 2013; Patel et al., 2015) reveal the ways in which global relations of capital, colonialism and development intersect to intensify processes of displacement or unaffordability for the poor, with deeply classist, gendered and racial implications.

While these uneven processes of development and dispossession deeply condition the experience of urban inequalities, their impacts have not been well acknowledged within the SDGs. Though the agenda has an explicit focus on increasing access and opportunities for the bottom bracket, it is noticeably silent on redistributive policies, such as regulations on tax havens or on private and foreign corporations, which might address processes of commodification and financialisation. Nor does the agenda comment on the wider global relations linked with neoliberalism, privatisation, global debt or free trade which have shaped the unequal distribution of wealth, power and opportunities across diverse social groups (Fukuda-Parr, 2019). These silences are reflective of the wider political constraints of an institution such as the UN - beholden to individual member states - through which negotiations were channelled. However, a relational lens reveals the critical necessity of focusing on these processes if the aim is to achieve ‘transformational’ change.

Drawing lessons from the experiences of urban poor communities makes clear the risks of overlooking the relations which structure the political economy of the city. Take, for instance, Target 6.1: ‘universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water’. The incompatibility of privatisation - a favoured tool of development aid - and the aims of ‘universal and equitable’ access to water has been well documented, often locking the most vulnerable neighbourhoods or households out of affordable, reliable and good quality service (Bakker, 2007; Spronk, 2010). This clearly demonstrated, for instance, with the example of the Delegated Management Model (DMM) of water delivery introduced in Kisumu, Kenya. In this model, the privately operated water utility provides piped water to a bulk water point at a subsidised rate, with operation and management devolved to entrepreneurial individuals or community-based organisations who resell the bulk water through smaller community-level kiosks. While the DMM has enhanced entrepreneurial opportunities and extended networked service in underserved areas, in Kisumu it was found that this approach has not addressed water precarity for the most vulnerable residents (Butcher, 2015; Castro and Morel, 2008). In particular, the continued emphasis on cost-recovery meant that residents in lower-income areas of settlements were less likely to be considered for DMM services, which were placed in locations that had been favourably assessed for financial viability. As a result, it was often the most vulnerable residents in the poorer and interior areas of the settlement that continued to experience gaps in coverage - reinforcing socio-spatial inequalities even while paradoxically increasing water quality and quantity. This case demonstrated that even ‘pro-poor’ models of service delivery may continue to disenfranchise vulnerable groups when unrolled within a wider market logic. More broadly, this case indicates that the distributional aims of the SDGs - focused on ‘universal provision’ or ‘equal rights’ to water, energy, housing and land - are closely imbricated with those urban processes that have transformed social goods into commodities.

Adopting a relational approach to the SDGs which centres the concerns of urban equality therefore requires alternative development models which can contest the commodification of land, housing and services. And indeed, here there are valuable lessons from organised groups of the urban poor. For instance, activities facilitated by the regional network the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights (ACHR) have showcased the power and possibility of collective forms of housing, tenure and finance for urban poor groups. This network, established in 1988, is a coalition of professionals, NGOs and community organisations working across a range of Asian cities (see Anzorena et al., 1998; Archer, 2012). The particular mechanisms through which ACHR groups operate take diverse forms according to the different institutional contexts in each city. However, fundamental to the ethos of the coalition are collective and city-wide strategies such as community-managed savings and loans schemes, peer exchanges, training, co-creation workshops and the establishment of innovative models of collective tenure and housing cooperatives. Operating through community collective action - particularly through tenure and financing - is intended to challenge the perception of land as an economic asset, protecting land values from the predatory forces of the market (Pérez-Castro and Boonyabancha, 2019). Likewise, networking regionally supports peer learning, knowledge sharing and capacity-building as well as building relationships with local authorities locally (Boonyabancha and Mitlin, 2012). These practices can be understood as relational in that they highlight alternative forms of producing the city which challenge those powerful relations which have divested urban poor residents from land, housing or services; that they support the capacities of urban poor groups to engage collectively; and seek to build collaborative relationships with local authorities and financial institutions. Adopting city-wide approaches, sharing knowledge across diverse cities and participating in global discourses has supported the scale-out of this mode of engagement across the Asian region. Adopting this relational approach to the agenda can reframe the focus from who ‘owns’ the city, to those processes - such as collective tenure (Boonyabancha, 2009), remunicipalisation (McDonald, 2018), or commoning (Bakker, 2007) - which challenge the unequal political economy of the city, and through which the city can be collectively shared.

Who produces knowledge about the city?

This second question: ‘who produces knowledge about the city’ refers to the global emphasis on producing new forms of data, evidence and knowledge to deliver on the ambitious aims of the agenda. Globally, the SDG framework, with its suite of measurable targets and indicators, has given rise to new data-driven processes and forms of urban expertise. The UN has called for a ‘data revolution’ (UN-Habitat, 2014b) in acknowledgement that data is vital for supporting informed decision-making in the design, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs. This framing explicitly recognises that many groups (particularly poor or vulnerable populations) have not been counted or measured, and calls for innovative forms of data - including qualitative, citizengenerated and subjective perceptions - to inform urban governance.

However, from a relational perspective, what is less evident in many global discussions of data gaps and monitoring is the uneven knowledge politics through which certain stakeholders participate in the generation of evidence and are represented in decision-making about the city. That is, feminist and Southern scholars have long revealed the profoundly political nature of what is considered evidence, shaped by values which dictate who, how and what we measure (Rose, 1997; Harding, 1991). In relation to resilience, for instance, Borie et al. (2019) reveal the diversity of the ways - often conflicting - in which narratives of urban resilience were deployed in Cape Town, Manila and Nairobi. The understanding of resilience - as variously, natural hazards, social cohesion, technocratic resilience or emancipation - shaped the knowledge, tools, approaches and questions that were pursued, generating different sociomaterial outcomes across the three cities.

Likewise, critical urban scholars have highlighted the diverse understandings of what constitutes knowledge and evidence within global urban agendas, underpinned by a range of interests and ideologies (Caprotti et al., 2017; Barnett and Parnell, 2016). For instance, Cociña et al. (2019) trace the changing knowledge paradigms that underpinned the Habitat I, II and III conferences with different implications and assumptions on how to address issues of urban equality, whether linked with self-help approaches, public-private partnerships to enhance urban management or in the current era focused on measurable data and evidence-based approaches. Or, across sub-Saharan Africa, Watson (2014a) explores how the ‘smart’ cities discourse - often predicated upon ‘best practice’ models of international property investors, architects and planners - has powerfully shaped urban imaginaries through masterplanning, manifesting in standardised models of measurement, comparison and aspiration. Caprotti et al. (2017) identify these trends as the rise of ‘urban governance as a technocratic undertaking’ (369), warning that the emphasis on data and measurement can obscure the deeply ideological and normative agendas which shape notions and practices of sustainability. Thus, while recognising that data and knowledge are vital to enacting and monitoring the SDGs, a relational lens requires unpacking who participates as a knowledge producer and how diverse forms of knowledge (whether considered expert, tacit, lived) are recognised and validated in spaces of decisionmaking, and the processes through which evidence is translated to policy (Rydin, 2006).

Drawing again from the grounded experiences of the urban poor is valuable for exploring how diverse knowledge bases might generate different approaches to the SDG targets. Take, for instance, Target 1.5, to: ‘build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations’. In fact, the drivers of vulnerability and understandings of risk may be very different for local policy-makers or international engineering consultants than for communities located in precarious conditions. This is well exemplified in the case of the centrally located informal settlement of Suna, in Dar es Salaam. In 2011, flash flooding events in the adjacent Msimbazi river displaced nearly 50,000 residents of settlements such as Suna. In response, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements oversaw the relocation of impacted residents to the peri-urban settlement of Mabwepande, located nearly 40 km away in the fringes of Dar es Salaam. However, by 2018, nearly half of the plots in Mapbwapande remained underdeveloped, with many residents moving back to their original riverside settlements due to being too far from their social networks and livelihoods opportunities (John et al., 2019; Kironde, 2016). It is also worth noting that residents were relocated from a desirable tract of inner-city land, eliding other mechanisms for addressing vulnerability in situ such as installing improved water and sanitation infrastructure or drainage (Kironde, 2016). Indeed, the case of Suna is not unique, with informal settlement residents often facing displacement from their social networks and livelihoods on account of being located in vulnerable conditions. These risks increase where informal neighbourhoods are located on desirable or inner-city land, where knowledge claims linked with vulnerability or resilience may hide other interests in the city (Coates, 2019; Patel et al., 2015).

This example demonstrates how the representation of particular forms of knowledge (in this case, through hazard maps), generated particular distributional outcomes. Without denying the real environmental risks in Suna, what would it mean to meaningfully engage those residents into city planning aimed at sustainable development? How differently might the strategies to address hazards be conceptualised - from restoring the ecological integrity of the riverbank to installing appropriate infrastructure or relocation in a more central area - if those residents are asked to participate in the definition of vulnerability and the strategies to build resilience? Most critically, a relational lens asks: where these different knowledge systems and understandings are competing, which urban stakeholders have the legitimacy and authority to mediate?

While advocating for diverse forms of knowledge to inform the SDGs, this is not to suggest a dichotomy between ‘expert’ and ‘everyday’ forms of knowledge (Caprotti et al., 2017). Instead, there is much to be gained in exploring models of ‘knowledge co-production’, in which different forms of expertise are brought to bear on key urban challenges (Mitlin, 2008; Watson, 2014b). In addition to ensuring that knowledge from the margins plays a central role in articulating strategies towards the SDGs, this requires ‘new institutions of knowledge generation’ (Rydin, 2006), which can support the translation of knowledge into formats that are legible across a range of stakeholders and policy-makers.

A powerful example of this in practice is the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC), an institution based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Established in 2015, this centre focuses on producing participatory and collaborative research to support Freetown’s informal settlement residents. SLURC has played a fundamental role working in partnership with the Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDURP), in consortiums with local and international NGOs and universities and in close collaboration with the Freetown City Council (City Learning Platform, 2019). Key to their work are a number of strategies to move between diverse forms of knowledge to inform policy and programmatic action. This includes: publishing community-produced data in formats - such as official reports and policy briefs - which are recognised and used by policy-makers; demonstrating new methodologies for engaging informal settlement residents, such as through neighbourhood planning; and supporting community leaders to actively participate as ‘urban experts’ in international engagements, such as the World Urban Forum, and Habitat III. In doing so, SLURC is able to leverage its reputation and capacity as a respected research centre to act as a knowledge broker, grounded in the voices and experiences of the urban poor. Such processes are deeply political, and are linked with the aims of recognition, fundamentally challenging who has the right to see themselves - and be seen as - a knowledge producer (Levy, 2015). Similar examples of ‘knowledge intermediaries’ or ‘transdisciplinary’ approaches to knowledge co-production - across theory and practice, academia and policy, and everyday and ‘expert’ forms of knowledge - have been explored in a range of institutional contexts (e.g. Patel et al., 2015; Simon et al., 2018). Scaling out these relational approaches to urban knowledge generation requires moving beyond the production of ‘more’ knowledge about the city to emphasise instead the processes, partnerships and capacities through which knowledge is co-produced and ‘translated’ across a range of actors, spaces and scales (Frediani et al., 2019).

Who is visible in the city?

Finally, this third question of ‘who is visible in the city’ refers to the intersecting and often hidden and dimensions of inequalities which may be experienced by diverse social groups. Feminist work on intersectionality has revealed how overlapping experiences of identity can generate compounded forms of oppression with clear implications for the achievement of SDG goals and targets (Crenshaw, 1991; Walker et al., 2013; Castán Broto and Neves Alves, 2018). For instance, in an ODI survey across sixteen countries, poor women from disadvantaged ethnic groups were found to have experienced significant disparities in education and health outcomes, with far fewer years in schooling and higher infant mortality rates (Lenhardt and Samman, 2015). Likewise, the legacy of the MDGs has suggested that outcomes across the goals were consistently worse for those facing multiple disadvantages across every region (Stuart and Woodroffe, 2016). Clearly, linking structural conditions to the interplay of social relations is important to addressing the aims of ‘leaving no one behind’.

While there has been a good effort throughout the agenda to monitor progress across social groups, this still risks leaving behind the social relations which structure inequalities. This, despite the fact urban development scholars and practitioners have long suggested that identity, culture and context shape ‘improved access’ to services (Sultana, 2009; Desai et al., 2015; Walker and Butcher, 2016). For instance, in Mumbai, Walker et al. (2013) examine how gender and disability shaped the experience of the Mumbai Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS). The authors reveal how spatial transformation instigated by the project (from low-rise to high-rise housing) intersected with gendered norms and localised fears around violence and disability. As a result, young women with disabilities especially found themselves confined to their homes as social networks and a sense of security were eroded, heightening fears of gendered violence. This point has likewise been poignantly made concerning gender and services - such as sanitation or transport - where the risks of coercion or violence in the public or private sphere shape how certain social groups move through the city or appropriate space and services (Sommer et al., 2015; McIlwaine, 2013; Levy, 2013). In Rajasthan, for example, O’Reilly (2010) explores how an intervention to install latrines in the household to reduce safety concerns did not effectively allow women to: ‘move about freely or relieve themselves unconcernedly’ (54). In other words, a focus on the ‘hardware’ of improved infrastructure left behind the discussion of the social realities which ultimately placed women at risk.

Adopting a relational lens therefore has implications for improving ‘access’ to services such as public space (11.7), transport (11.2) or energy (7.1). That is, beyond data disaggregation, this would require complementing SDG indicators with the rich detail from qualitative data to explore how emotions and feelings, contextual cultural meanings, social rules and historical planning trajectories impact the access and use of urban infrastructures across different social groups. This requires monitoring systems which are holistic rather than siloed and a focus on understanding how particular interventions have translated into the ‘transformation of social opportunities’, especially for vulnerable groups (Sexsmith and McMichael, 586). Moreover, adopting a relational lens also raises questions of reciprocal recognition through which excluded groups come to recognise and claim their own rights (Levy, 2015). Thus, while the emphasis on data disaggregation may support policy-makers in identifying and tracking realities across social groups, a relational lens emphasises the process through which diverse marginalised groups come to exert political agency as urban citizens as fundamental to driving greater urban equality.

To this end, the work of organised urban poor groups through Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI) has powerfully demonstrated the value of citizen-produced data, not simply for achieving better outcomes, but also for fostering capacities to engage as local leaders and experts and negotiating across diverse social realities as ‘tools for group formation’ (Appadurai, 640). In Nairobi, Kenya, for instance, long advocacy from grassroots groups, such as the SDI affiliate Muungano wa Wanavijiji, has led to a ‘Special Planning Area’ for the Mukuru settlement in 2017 - aiming to upgrade 100,000 households. This case is significant both for its reach and scale as well as for establishing ‘institutional and procedural’ mechanisms for participatory planning to meet the targets of the SDGs (Horn et al., 9). Crucially, the federation has long focused on engaging with and producing data around the experiences of diverse residents - particularly in relation to residency status, gender, age and ethnicity. Elsewhere in Nairobi, for instance, the federation has navigated sensitive divisions between structure owners and tenants which have been exacerbated by high levels of commercialisation in the housing market (Weru, 2004). Crucial in this case is Muungano’s decades of expertise in adopting innovative methodologies for collective action which has strengthened the organisational capacities of informal settlement residents to respond sensitively to how urban inequalities are experienced by different social groups, and engage in upgrading processes without gentrification. Thus, in addition to disaggregated monitoring systems for the SDGs, adopting a relational approach calls for similar approaches which can foster forms of political agency (Taylor et al., 2020), facilitate solidarities across diverse vulnerable groups (Mitlin, 2008) and support the collective action of excluded groups to document and analyse social phenomena (Patel et al., 2001). Such approaches move beyond more instrumentalised approaches to citizen-produced and identity-disaggregated data to a focus on how excluded communities are made visible in the city, not just to policy-makers but also as a collective political force.

Charting future research agendas

The SDGs are a powerful political framework - with significant influence in shaping global and local policy and practice - which can be strategically used to further the aims of urban equality. Yet the three provocations offered here also reveal key tension points for reading this agenda with a relational lens, drawing attention to the unequal processes of urbanisation, the unequal representation of different forms of knowledge and the (in)visibility of social relations and how this structures rights. These questions generate four implications across research and practice as the agenda moves towards localisation.

First, even if not explicitly outlined in the agenda, seeing disparity and privilege as mutually imbricated requires centring those urbanisation processes which have produced inequalities, such as the privatisation of services, financialisation of housing, commodification of land and a lack of regulation on labour rights. As such, a relational lens requires the adoption of a multi-scalar analysis to better chart how these urban trends and interventions at the city-scale are experienced in everyday life and across intersecting facets of gender, class, tenure, ethnicity and other aspects of identity. Despite an increased emphasis on monitoring and benchmarking across nations, it is critical that interventions are focused on these broader political processes and their link to everyday gendered and classist experiences, rather than focusing overly on comparable improvements in outputs represented by the ‘technical’ (and often decontextualised) indicators.

Second, while there is an increasing recognition of the need for ‘evidence-based policy’, a relational approach stresses how evidence is produced, not just what is produced. Here it is critical that urban poor groups are valued not only for their role in data collection but also in the interpretation or analysis of social experiences and the formulation of strategies to address urban challenges. A relational approach therefore calls attention to the capacities and skills required to reframe our epistemologies of inequalities, asking questions such as how organisational alliances and institutional reflexivity are nurtured, how and by whom diverse values and conflicting rationalities are mediated in decision-making, and about the conditions which support marginalised groups to participate equitably within partnerships.

Third, though the SDGs are a universal agenda, context, histories and policy and planning trajectories will shape how this global agenda plays out within different localities and for diverse social groups. Beyond standardised and comparable quantitative approaches to monitoring, a relational ethos also requires innovative methodological approaches in arts, theatre and storytelling which speak to everyday collective and cultural meanings (Sandercock, 2003). This requires methods that are grounded in an analysis of how social relations are produced, disrupted and reorganised through shifting political processes and interventions, and how this is linked to global and local legacies of exclusion.

Finally, the examples discussed here in different ways each demonstrated an important politics of solidarity, whether through establishing collective assets, engaging in new partnerships and nurturing trusted relationships or in building capacities for excluded groups to participate in political and civic life. Crucially, these collective experiences generated a range of outcomes which are deeply linked with the concerns of equality but which have not been captured within SDGs - such as dignity, autonomy, care, confidence or belonging.2 There is space for further reflection on how these deeply situated values - which resist quantification or comparability - can be nurtured through the aspirations of the SDG framework.

As we move towards localisation, there is much to be learned from the practices across cities of the global South, where urban poor groups have long operated on the margins to expand access to vital services, participate in decision-making and claim their rights as (urban) citizens. In different ways, the examples presented here each demonstrate key modalities through which the transformative aims of the agenda might be achieved and scaled, whether through the adoption of city-wide planning approaches, networking regionally and internationally, establishing durable institutions of representation, nurturing capacities in research, advocacy and planning, building collaborative relationships across diverse stakeholders, or adopting new mechanisms and methodologies for inclusive planning. Building on these lessons ‘from the peripheries of all cities’ (Bhan, 2019, 642), this article reveals the vital necessity of adopting a relational ethos to orient the SDGs. In doing so, this approach offers the potential to guide decisionmaking, planning and policy - to foreground the concerns of equality and the aspirations of peripheralised communities - towards a transformative agenda.

This article has been produced as a part of the Knowledge in Action for Urban Equality (KNOW) programme which is focused on research and capacity building to support more equitable urban planning and policy, as a part of a work package focused on ‘translating research into practice’. The programme works collaboratively with partners in the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights (ACHR), the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC), and with various local network members and support NGOs of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), each referred to later.

For an innovative example of ‘community-driven’ approaches to the SDGs, which seek to capture these ‘missing’ dimensions, see the work of Catalytic Communities: https://catcomm.org/sdg/

References

Anzorena, J., Bolnick, J., Boonyabancha, S., Cabannes, Y., Hardoy, A., Hasan, A. and Levy, C. (1998) ‘Reducing urban poverty; some lessons from experience’, Environment and Urbanization, 10(1), 167-186. Google Scholar

Appadurai, A. (2012) ‘Why enumeration counts’, Environment and Urbanization, 24(2), 639-641. Google Scholar

Archer, D. (2012) ‘Finance as the key to unlocking community potential: savings, funds and the ACCA programme’, Environment and Urbanization, 2(2), 423-440. Google Scholar

Bakker, K. (2007) ‘The “commons” versus the “commodity”: alter-globalization, antiprivatization and the human right to water in the global South’, Antipode, 39(3), 430-455. Google Scholar

Barnett, C. and Parnell, S. (2016) ‘Ideas, implementation and indicators: epistemologies of the post-2015 urban agenda’, Environment and Urbanization, 28(1), 87-98. Google Scholar

Bhan, G. (2019) ‘Notes on a Southern urban practice’, Environment and Urbanization, 31(2), 639-654. Google Scholar

Boonyabancha, S. (2009) ‘Land for housing the poor - by the poor: experiences from the Baan Mankong nationwide slum upgrading programme in Thailand’, Environment and Urbanization, 21(2), 309-329. Google Scholar

Boonyabancha, S. and Mitlin, D. (2012) ‘Urban poverty reduction: learning by doing in Asia’, Environment and Urbanization, 24(2), 403-421. Google Scholar

Borie, M., Ziervogel, G., Taylor, F. E., Millington, J., Sitas, R. and Pelling, M. (2019) ‘Mapping (for) resilience across city scales: an opportunity to open up conversations for more inclusive resilience policy’, Environmental Science & Policy, 99, 1-9. Google Scholar

Butcher, S. (2015) ‘The “everyday water practices” of the urban poor in Kisumu, Kenya’, in Urban Solutions: Metropolitan Approaches, Innovation in Urban Water and Sanitation, and Inclusive Smart Cities: A New Generation of Ideas, Washington DC, Wilson Center Urban Sustainability Laboratory. Google Scholar

Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Datta, A., Castán Broto, V., Gao, E., Georgeson, L., Herrick, C., Odendaal, N. and Joss, S. (2017) ‘The new urban agenda: key opportunities and challenges for policy and practice’, Urban Research & Practice, 10(3), 367-378. Google Scholar

Castán Broto, V. and Neves Alves, S. (2018) ‘Intersectionality challenges for the co-production of urban services: notes for a theoretical and methodological agenda’, Environment and Urbanization, 30(2), 367-386. Google Scholar

Castro, V. and Morel, A. (2008) ‘Can delegated management help water utilities improve services to informal settlements?’, Waterlines, 27(4), 289-306. Google Scholar

Chant, S. (2013) ‘Cities through a “gender lens”: a golden “urban age” for women in the global South?’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 9-29. Google Scholar

City Learning Platform (2019) ‘Principles of engagement for the city learning platform’, Practitioner Brief #1, Freetown, Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre. Google Scholar

Coates, R. (2019) ‘Citizenship-in-nature? Exploring hazardous urbanization in Nova Friburgo, Brazil’, Geoforum, 99, 63-73. Google Scholar

Cociña, C., Frediani, A. A., Acuto, M. and Levy, C. (2019) ‘Knowledge translation in global urban agendas: a history of research-practice encounters in the Habitat conferences’, World Development, 122, 130-141. Google Scholar

Cooke, P. B. and Kothari, U. (eds) (2001) Participation: The New Tyranny? London, Zed Books. Google Scholar

Crenshaw, K. (1991) ‘Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color’, Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241-1299. Google Scholar

DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) (2019) ‘World urbanization prospects: the 2018 revision (ST/ESA/SER.A/420)’, New York, United Nations Population Division. Google Scholar

Desai, R., McFarlane, C. and Graham, S. (2015) ‘The politics of open defecation: informality, body, and infrastructure in Mumbai’, Antipode, 47(1), 98-120. Google Scholar

Desai, V. and Loftus, A. (2013) ‘Speculating on slums: infrastructural fixes in informal housing in the global South’, Antipode, 45(4), 789-808. Google Scholar

Elwood, S., Lawson, V. and Sheppard, E. (2017) ‘Geographical relational poverty studies’, Progress in Human Geography, 41(6), 745-765. Google Scholar

Esquivel, V. (2016) ‘Power and the sustainable development goals: a feminist analysis’, Gender & Development, 24(1), 9-23. Google Scholar

Farha, L. (2017) ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context: financialization of housing and the right to adequate housing’, Geneva, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Google Scholar

Fraser, N. (1995) ‘From redistribution to recognition? Dilemmas of justice in a “post-Socialist” age’, New Left Review, 212, 68-94. Google Scholar

Fraser, N. (2010) Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World, New York, Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Frediani, A. A., Cociña, C. and Acuto, M. (2019) ‘Translating knowledge for urban equality: alternative geographies for encounters between planning research and practice’, KNOW Working Paper Series, 2, 1-13. Google Scholar

Fukuda-Parr, S. (2019) ‘Keeping out extreme inequality from the SDG agenda: the politics of indicators’, Global Policy, 10(S1), 61-69. Google Scholar

Garmany, J. and Richmond, M. A. (2020) ‘Hygienisation, gentrification, and urban displacement in Brazil’, Antipode, 52(1), 124-144. Google Scholar

Ghertner, D. A. (2011) ‘Green evictions: environmental discourses of a “slum-free” Delhi’, in R. Peet, P. Robbins and M. Watts (eds), Global Political Ecology, Routledge, London, 145-165. Google Scholar

Gupta, J., Pouw, N. R. M. and Ros-Tonen, M. A. F. (2015) ‘Towards an elaborated theory of inclusive development’, The European Journal of Development Research, 27(4), 541-559. Google Scholar

Gupta, J. and Vegelin, C. (2016) ‘Sustainable development goals and inclusive development’, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16(3), 433-448. Google Scholar

Hammett, D. (2017) ‘Introduction: exploring the contested terrain of urban citizenship’, International Development Planning Review, 39(1), 1-13. Google Scholar

Harding, S. (1991) Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women’s Lives, New York, Cornell University Press. Google Scholar

Hickel, J. (2019) ‘The contradiction of the sustainable development goals: growth versus ecology on a finite planet’, Sustainable Development, 27(5), 873-884. Google Scholar

Horn, P., Kimani, J., Makau, J. and Njoroge, P. (2020) ‘Scaling participation in informal settlement upgrading: a documentation of community mobilisation and consultation processes in the Mukuru Special Planning Area, Nairobi, Kenya’ (Working Paper), Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. Google Scholar

John, R., Magina, F. B. and Kemwita, E. F. (2019) ‘From Msimbazi river valley to Mabwepande settlement: the resettlement process and its challenges’, Current Urban Studies, 7(3), 399-426. Google Scholar

Kabeer, N. (2016) ‘“Leaving no one behind”: the challenge of intersecting inequalities’, in ISSC, IDS, UNESCO (eds), World Social Science Report 2016: Challenging Inequalities: Pathways to a Just World, Paris, UNESCO, 55-58. Google Scholar

Kaika, M. (2017) ‘Don’t call me resilient again!’: the new urban agenda as immunology … or … what happens when communities refuse to be vaccinated with “smart cities” and indicators’, Environment and Urbanization, 29(1), 89-102. Google Scholar

Kironde, J. M. L. (2016) ‘Governance deficits in dealing with the plight of dwellers of hazardous land: the case of the Msimbazi River Valley in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’, Current Urban Studies, 4(3), 303-328. Google Scholar

Lawhon, M. and Truelove, Y. (2020) ‘Disambiguating the southern urban critique: propositions, pathways and possibilities for a more global urban studies’, Urban Studies, 57(1), 3-20. Google Scholar

Leitner, H. and Sheppard, E. (2018) ‘From Kampungs to Condos? Contested accumulations through displacement in Jakarta’, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50(2), 437-456. Google Scholar

Lenhardt, A. and Samman, E. (2015) ‘In quest of inclusive progress: exploring intersecting inequalities in human development’, Development Progress Research Report 4, London, Overseas Development Institute. Google Scholar

Levy, C. (2013) ‘Travel choice reframed: “deep distribution” and gender in urban transport’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 47-63. Google Scholar

Levy, C. (2015) ‘Routes to the just city: towards gender equality in transport planning’, in C. O. N. Moser (ed.), Gender, Asset Accumulation and Just Cities, Routledge, London. Google Scholar

Liverman, D. M. (2018) ‘Geographic perspectives on development goals: constructive engagements and critical perspectives on the MDGs and the SDGs’, Dialogues in Human Geography, 8(2), 168-185. Google Scholar

López-Morales, E. (2015) ‘Gentrification in the global South’, City, 19(4), 564-573. Google Scholar

Lukes, S. (2005) Power: A Radical View, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar

McDonald, D. A. (2018) ‘Remunicipalization: the future of water services?’, Geoforum, 91, 47-56. Google Scholar

McFarlane, C. (2006) ‘Knowledge, learning and development: a post-rationalist approach’, Progress in Development Studies, 6(4), 287-305. Google Scholar

McIlwaine, C. (2013) ‘Urbanization and gender-based violence: exploring the paradoxes in the global South’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 65-79. Google Scholar

Mitlin, D. (2008) ‘With and beyond the state: co-production as a route to political influence, power and transformation for grassroots organizations’, Environment and Urbanization, 20(2), 339-360. Google Scholar

Mosse, D. (2010) ‘A relational approach to durable poverty, inequality and power’, The Journal of Development Studies, 46(7), 1156-1178. Google Scholar

Nightingale, A.J. (2011) ‘Bounding difference: intersectionality and the material production of gender, caste, class and environment in Nepal’, Geoforum, 42(2), 153-162. Google Scholar

O’Reilly, K. (2010). ‘Combining sanitation and women’s participation in water supply: an example from Rajasthan’, Development in Practice, 20(1), 45-56. Google Scholar

Parnell, S. (2016) ‘Defining a global urban development agenda’, World Development, 78, 529-540. Google Scholar

Patel, S., Burra, S. and D’Cruz, C. (2001) ‘Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI): foundations to treetops’, Environment and Urbanization, 13(2), 45-59. Google Scholar

Patel, S., Sliuzas, R. and Mathur, N. (2015) ‘The risk of impoverishment in urban development-induced displacement and resettlement in Ahmedabad’, Environment and Urbanization, 27(1), 231-256. Google Scholar

Patel, Z., Greyling, S., Parnell, S. and Pirie, G. (2015) ‘Co-producing urban knowledge: experimenting with alternatives to “best practice” for Cape Town, South Africa’, International Development Planning Review, 37(2), 187-203. Google Scholar

Pérez-Castro, B. and Boonyabancha, S. (2019) ‘On “being collective”: a patchwork conversation with Somsook Boonyabancha on poverty, collective land tenure and Thailand’s Baan Mankong programme’, Radical Housing Journal, 1(2), 167-177. Google Scholar

Rao, N. (2017) Assets, agency and legitimacy: towards a relational understanding of gender equality policy and practice’, World Development, 95, 43-54. Google Scholar

Razavi, S. (2016) ‘The 2030 agenda: challenges of implementation to attain gender equality and women’s rights’, Gender & Development, 24(1), 25-41. Google Scholar

Revi, A. (2016) Afterwards: Habitat III and the sustainable development goals’, Urbanisation, 1(2), x-xiv. Google Scholar

Rose, G. (1997) ‘Situating knowledges: positionality, reflexivities and other tactics’, Progress in Human Geography, 21(3), 305-320. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2009) ‘The 21st-century metropolis: new geographies of theory’, Regional Studies, 43(6), 819-830. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2016) ‘Who’s afraid of postcolonial theory?’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40(1), 200-209. Google Scholar

Rydin, Y. (2006) ‘Joined-up knowledge for the sustainable city?’, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 38(6), 1005-1007. Google Scholar

Sandercock, L. (2003) ‘Out of the closet: the importance of stories and storytelling in planning practice’, Planning Theory & Practice, 4(1), 11-28. Google Scholar

Sassen, S. (2018), ‘Who owns the city?’, in R. Sennett, R. Burdett, R. and S. Sassen (eds), The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agenda, New York, Routledge. Google Scholar

SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network) (2013) ‘Why the world needs an urban sustainable development goal’, SDSN, https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/be6d1d56/files/uploaded/SDSN-Why-the-World-Needs-an-Urban-SDG-rev-1310291.pdf (accessed 14 August 2020). Google Scholar

Sexsmith, K. and McMichael, P. (2015) ‘Formulating the SDGs: reproducing or reimagining state-centered development?’, Globalizations, 12(4), 581-596. Google Scholar

Simon, D., Palmer, H., Riise, J. Smit, W. and Valencia, S. (2018) ‘The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research’, Environment and Urbanization, 30(2), 481-500. Google Scholar

Soederberg, S. and Walks, A. (2018) ‘Producing and governing inequalities under planetary urbanization: From urban age to urban revolution?’, Geoforum, 89, 107-113. Google Scholar

Sommer, M., Ferron, S., Cavill, S. and House, S. (2015) ‘Violence, gender and WASH: spurring action on a complex, under-documented and sensitive topic’, Environment and Urbanization, 27(1), 105-116. Google Scholar

Spronk, S. (2010) ‘Water and sanitation utilities in the global South: re-centering the debate on “efficiency”’, Review of Radical Political Economics, 42(2), 156-174. Google Scholar

Stuart, E. and Woodroffe, J. (2016) ‘Leaving no-one behind: can the sustainable development goals succeed where the millennium development goals lacked?’, Gender & Development, 24(1), 69-81. Google Scholar

Sultana, F. (2009) ‘Fluid lives: subjectivities, gender and water in rural Bangladesh’, Gender, Place & Culture, 16(4), 427-444. Google Scholar

Taylor, F. E., Millington, J. D. A., Jacob, E., Malamud, B. D. and Pelling, M. (2020) ‘Messy maps: qualitative GIS representations of resilience’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 198, 103771. Google Scholar

UN-Habitat (2014a) ‘Urban equity in development: cities for life’, Concept Paper for the 7th World Urban Forum, Medellín. Google Scholar

UN-Habitat (2014b) ‘A world that counts: mobilizing the data revolution for sustainable development’, Report prepared by the Independent Expert Advisory Group on a data revolution for sustainable development. Google Scholar

Walker, J. and Butcher, S. (2016) ‘Beyond one-dimensional representation: challenges for neighbourhood planning in socially diverse urban settlements in Kisumu, Kenya’, International Development Planning Review, 38(3), 275-295. Google Scholar

Walker, J., Frediani, A. A. and Trani, J. F. (2013) ‘Gender, difference and urban change: implications for the promotion of well-being?’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 111-124. Google Scholar

Watson, V. (2014a) ‘African urban fantasies: dreams or nightmares?’, Environment and Urbanization, 26(1), 215-231. Google Scholar

Watson, V. (2014b) ‘Co-production and collaboration in planning: the difference’, Planning Theory & Practice, 15(1), 62-76. Google Scholar

Weru, J. (2004) ‘Community federations and city upgrading: the work of Pamoja Trust and Muungano in Kenya’, Environment and Urbanization, 16(1), 47-62. Google Scholar

Yiftachel, O. (2016) ‘Essay: re-engaging planning theory? Towards “South-Eastern” perspectives’, Planning Theory, 5(3), 211-222. Google Scholar

References

Anzorena, J., Bolnick, J., Boonyabancha, S., Cabannes, Y., Hardoy, A., Hasan, A. and Levy, C. (1998) ‘Reducing urban poverty; some lessons from experience’, Environment and Urbanization, 10(1), 167-186. Google Scholar

Appadurai, A. (2012) ‘Why enumeration counts’, Environment and Urbanization, 24(2), 639-641. Google Scholar

Archer, D. (2012) ‘Finance as the key to unlocking community potential: savings, funds and the ACCA programme’, Environment and Urbanization, 2(2), 423-440. Google Scholar

Bakker, K. (2007) ‘The “commons” versus the “commodity”: alter-globalization, antiprivatization and the human right to water in the global South’, Antipode, 39(3), 430-455. Google Scholar

Barnett, C. and Parnell, S. (2016) ‘Ideas, implementation and indicators: epistemologies of the post-2015 urban agenda’, Environment and Urbanization, 28(1), 87-98. Google Scholar

Bhan, G. (2019) ‘Notes on a Southern urban practice’, Environment and Urbanization, 31(2), 639-654. Google Scholar

Boonyabancha, S. (2009) ‘Land for housing the poor - by the poor: experiences from the Baan Mankong nationwide slum upgrading programme in Thailand’, Environment and Urbanization, 21(2), 309-329. Google Scholar

Boonyabancha, S. and Mitlin, D. (2012) ‘Urban poverty reduction: learning by doing in Asia’, Environment and Urbanization, 24(2), 403-421. Google Scholar

Borie, M., Ziervogel, G., Taylor, F. E., Millington, J., Sitas, R. and Pelling, M. (2019) ‘Mapping (for) resilience across city scales: an opportunity to open up conversations for more inclusive resilience policy’, Environmental Science & Policy, 99, 1-9. Google Scholar

Butcher, S. (2015) ‘The “everyday water practices” of the urban poor in Kisumu, Kenya’, in Urban Solutions: Metropolitan Approaches, Innovation in Urban Water and Sanitation, and Inclusive Smart Cities: A New Generation of Ideas, Washington DC, Wilson Center Urban Sustainability Laboratory. Google Scholar

Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Datta, A., Castán Broto, V., Gao, E., Georgeson, L., Herrick, C., Odendaal, N. and Joss, S. (2017) ‘The new urban agenda: key opportunities and challenges for policy and practice’, Urban Research & Practice, 10(3), 367-378. Google Scholar

Castán Broto, V. and Neves Alves, S. (2018) ‘Intersectionality challenges for the co-production of urban services: notes for a theoretical and methodological agenda’, Environment and Urbanization, 30(2), 367-386. Google Scholar

Castro, V. and Morel, A. (2008) ‘Can delegated management help water utilities improve services to informal settlements?’, Waterlines, 27(4), 289-306. Google Scholar

Chant, S. (2013) ‘Cities through a “gender lens”: a golden “urban age” for women in the global South?’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 9-29. Google Scholar

City Learning Platform (2019) ‘Principles of engagement for the city learning platform’, Practitioner Brief #1, Freetown, Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre. Google Scholar

Coates, R. (2019) ‘Citizenship-in-nature? Exploring hazardous urbanization in Nova Friburgo, Brazil’, Geoforum, 99, 63-73. Google Scholar

Cociña, C., Frediani, A. A., Acuto, M. and Levy, C. (2019) ‘Knowledge translation in global urban agendas: a history of research-practice encounters in the Habitat conferences’, World Development, 122, 130-141. Google Scholar

Cooke, P. B. and Kothari, U. (eds) (2001) Participation: The New Tyranny? London, Zed Books. Google Scholar

Crenshaw, K. (1991) ‘Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color’, Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241-1299. Google Scholar

DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) (2019) ‘World urbanization prospects: the 2018 revision (ST/ESA/SER.A/420)’, New York, United Nations Population Division. Google Scholar

Desai, R., McFarlane, C. and Graham, S. (2015) ‘The politics of open defecation: informality, body, and infrastructure in Mumbai’, Antipode, 47(1), 98-120. Google Scholar

Desai, V. and Loftus, A. (2013) ‘Speculating on slums: infrastructural fixes in informal housing in the global South’, Antipode, 45(4), 789-808. Google Scholar

Elwood, S., Lawson, V. and Sheppard, E. (2017) ‘Geographical relational poverty studies’, Progress in Human Geography, 41(6), 745-765. Google Scholar

Esquivel, V. (2016) ‘Power and the sustainable development goals: a feminist analysis’, Gender & Development, 24(1), 9-23. Google Scholar

Farha, L. (2017) ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context: financialization of housing and the right to adequate housing’, Geneva, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Google Scholar

Fraser, N. (1995) ‘From redistribution to recognition? Dilemmas of justice in a “post-Socialist” age’, New Left Review, 212, 68-94. Google Scholar

Fraser, N. (2010) Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World, New York, Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Frediani, A. A., Cociña, C. and Acuto, M. (2019) ‘Translating knowledge for urban equality: alternative geographies for encounters between planning research and practice’, KNOW Working Paper Series, 2, 1-13. Google Scholar

Fukuda-Parr, S. (2019) ‘Keeping out extreme inequality from the SDG agenda: the politics of indicators’, Global Policy, 10(S1), 61-69. Google Scholar

Garmany, J. and Richmond, M. A. (2020) ‘Hygienisation, gentrification, and urban displacement in Brazil’, Antipode, 52(1), 124-144. Google Scholar

Ghertner, D. A. (2011) ‘Green evictions: environmental discourses of a “slum-free” Delhi’, in R. Peet, P. Robbins and M. Watts (eds), Global Political Ecology, Routledge, London, 145-165. Google Scholar

Gupta, J., Pouw, N. R. M. and Ros-Tonen, M. A. F. (2015) ‘Towards an elaborated theory of inclusive development’, The European Journal of Development Research, 27(4), 541-559. Google Scholar

Gupta, J. and Vegelin, C. (2016) ‘Sustainable development goals and inclusive development’, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16(3), 433-448. Google Scholar

Hammett, D. (2017) ‘Introduction: exploring the contested terrain of urban citizenship’, International Development Planning Review, 39(1), 1-13. Google Scholar

Harding, S. (1991) Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women’s Lives, New York, Cornell University Press. Google Scholar

Hickel, J. (2019) ‘The contradiction of the sustainable development goals: growth versus ecology on a finite planet’, Sustainable Development, 27(5), 873-884. Google Scholar

Horn, P., Kimani, J., Makau, J. and Njoroge, P. (2020) ‘Scaling participation in informal settlement upgrading: a documentation of community mobilisation and consultation processes in the Mukuru Special Planning Area, Nairobi, Kenya’ (Working Paper), Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. Google Scholar

John, R., Magina, F. B. and Kemwita, E. F. (2019) ‘From Msimbazi river valley to Mabwepande settlement: the resettlement process and its challenges’, Current Urban Studies, 7(3), 399-426. Google Scholar

Kabeer, N. (2016) ‘“Leaving no one behind”: the challenge of intersecting inequalities’, in ISSC, IDS, UNESCO (eds), World Social Science Report 2016: Challenging Inequalities: Pathways to a Just World, Paris, UNESCO, 55-58. Google Scholar

Kaika, M. (2017) ‘Don’t call me resilient again!’: the new urban agenda as immunology … or … what happens when communities refuse to be vaccinated with “smart cities” and indicators’, Environment and Urbanization, 29(1), 89-102. Google Scholar

Kironde, J. M. L. (2016) ‘Governance deficits in dealing with the plight of dwellers of hazardous land: the case of the Msimbazi River Valley in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’, Current Urban Studies, 4(3), 303-328. Google Scholar

Lawhon, M. and Truelove, Y. (2020) ‘Disambiguating the southern urban critique: propositions, pathways and possibilities for a more global urban studies’, Urban Studies, 57(1), 3-20. Google Scholar

Leitner, H. and Sheppard, E. (2018) ‘From Kampungs to Condos? Contested accumulations through displacement in Jakarta’, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50(2), 437-456. Google Scholar

Lenhardt, A. and Samman, E. (2015) ‘In quest of inclusive progress: exploring intersecting inequalities in human development’, Development Progress Research Report 4, London, Overseas Development Institute. Google Scholar

Levy, C. (2013) ‘Travel choice reframed: “deep distribution” and gender in urban transport’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 47-63. Google Scholar

Levy, C. (2015) ‘Routes to the just city: towards gender equality in transport planning’, in C. O. N. Moser (ed.), Gender, Asset Accumulation and Just Cities, Routledge, London. Google Scholar

Liverman, D. M. (2018) ‘Geographic perspectives on development goals: constructive engagements and critical perspectives on the MDGs and the SDGs’, Dialogues in Human Geography, 8(2), 168-185. Google Scholar

López-Morales, E. (2015) ‘Gentrification in the global South’, City, 19(4), 564-573. Google Scholar

Lukes, S. (2005) Power: A Radical View, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar

McDonald, D. A. (2018) ‘Remunicipalization: the future of water services?’, Geoforum, 91, 47-56. Google Scholar

McFarlane, C. (2006) ‘Knowledge, learning and development: a post-rationalist approach’, Progress in Development Studies, 6(4), 287-305. Google Scholar

McIlwaine, C. (2013) ‘Urbanization and gender-based violence: exploring the paradoxes in the global South’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 65-79. Google Scholar

Mitlin, D. (2008) ‘With and beyond the state: co-production as a route to political influence, power and transformation for grassroots organizations’, Environment and Urbanization, 20(2), 339-360. Google Scholar

Mosse, D. (2010) ‘A relational approach to durable poverty, inequality and power’, The Journal of Development Studies, 46(7), 1156-1178. Google Scholar

Nightingale, A.J. (2011) ‘Bounding difference: intersectionality and the material production of gender, caste, class and environment in Nepal’, Geoforum, 42(2), 153-162. Google Scholar

O’Reilly, K. (2010). ‘Combining sanitation and women’s participation in water supply: an example from Rajasthan’, Development in Practice, 20(1), 45-56. Google Scholar

Parnell, S. (2016) ‘Defining a global urban development agenda’, World Development, 78, 529-540. Google Scholar

Patel, S., Burra, S. and D’Cruz, C. (2001) ‘Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI): foundations to treetops’, Environment and Urbanization, 13(2), 45-59. Google Scholar

Patel, S., Sliuzas, R. and Mathur, N. (2015) ‘The risk of impoverishment in urban development-induced displacement and resettlement in Ahmedabad’, Environment and Urbanization, 27(1), 231-256. Google Scholar

Patel, Z., Greyling, S., Parnell, S. and Pirie, G. (2015) ‘Co-producing urban knowledge: experimenting with alternatives to “best practice” for Cape Town, South Africa’, International Development Planning Review, 37(2), 187-203. Google Scholar

Pérez-Castro, B. and Boonyabancha, S. (2019) ‘On “being collective”: a patchwork conversation with Somsook Boonyabancha on poverty, collective land tenure and Thailand’s Baan Mankong programme’, Radical Housing Journal, 1(2), 167-177. Google Scholar

Rao, N. (2017) Assets, agency and legitimacy: towards a relational understanding of gender equality policy and practice’, World Development, 95, 43-54. Google Scholar

Razavi, S. (2016) ‘The 2030 agenda: challenges of implementation to attain gender equality and women’s rights’, Gender & Development, 24(1), 25-41. Google Scholar

Revi, A. (2016) Afterwards: Habitat III and the sustainable development goals’, Urbanisation, 1(2), x-xiv. Google Scholar

Rose, G. (1997) ‘Situating knowledges: positionality, reflexivities and other tactics’, Progress in Human Geography, 21(3), 305-320. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2009) ‘The 21st-century metropolis: new geographies of theory’, Regional Studies, 43(6), 819-830. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2016) ‘Who’s afraid of postcolonial theory?’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 40(1), 200-209. Google Scholar

Rydin, Y. (2006) ‘Joined-up knowledge for the sustainable city?’, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 38(6), 1005-1007. Google Scholar

Sandercock, L. (2003) ‘Out of the closet: the importance of stories and storytelling in planning practice’, Planning Theory & Practice, 4(1), 11-28. Google Scholar

Sassen, S. (2018), ‘Who owns the city?’, in R. Sennett, R. Burdett, R. and S. Sassen (eds), The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agenda, New York, Routledge. Google Scholar

SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network) (2013) ‘Why the world needs an urban sustainable development goal’, SDSN, https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/be6d1d56/files/uploaded/SDSN-Why-the-World-Needs-an-Urban-SDG-rev-1310291.pdf (accessed 14 August 2020). Google Scholar

Sexsmith, K. and McMichael, P. (2015) ‘Formulating the SDGs: reproducing or reimagining state-centered development?’, Globalizations, 12(4), 581-596. Google Scholar

Simon, D., Palmer, H., Riise, J. Smit, W. and Valencia, S. (2018) ‘The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research’, Environment and Urbanization, 30(2), 481-500. Google Scholar

Soederberg, S. and Walks, A. (2018) ‘Producing and governing inequalities under planetary urbanization: From urban age to urban revolution?’, Geoforum, 89, 107-113. Google Scholar

Sommer, M., Ferron, S., Cavill, S. and House, S. (2015) ‘Violence, gender and WASH: spurring action on a complex, under-documented and sensitive topic’, Environment and Urbanization, 27(1), 105-116. Google Scholar

Spronk, S. (2010) ‘Water and sanitation utilities in the global South: re-centering the debate on “efficiency”’, Review of Radical Political Economics, 42(2), 156-174. Google Scholar

Stuart, E. and Woodroffe, J. (2016) ‘Leaving no-one behind: can the sustainable development goals succeed where the millennium development goals lacked?’, Gender & Development, 24(1), 69-81. Google Scholar

Sultana, F. (2009) ‘Fluid lives: subjectivities, gender and water in rural Bangladesh’, Gender, Place & Culture, 16(4), 427-444. Google Scholar

Taylor, F. E., Millington, J. D. A., Jacob, E., Malamud, B. D. and Pelling, M. (2020) ‘Messy maps: qualitative GIS representations of resilience’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 198, 103771. Google Scholar

UN-Habitat (2014a) ‘Urban equity in development: cities for life’, Concept Paper for the 7th World Urban Forum, Medellín. Google Scholar

UN-Habitat (2014b) ‘A world that counts: mobilizing the data revolution for sustainable development’, Report prepared by the Independent Expert Advisory Group on a data revolution for sustainable development. Google Scholar

Walker, J. and Butcher, S. (2016) ‘Beyond one-dimensional representation: challenges for neighbourhood planning in socially diverse urban settlements in Kisumu, Kenya’, International Development Planning Review, 38(3), 275-295. Google Scholar

Walker, J., Frediani, A. A. and Trani, J. F. (2013) ‘Gender, difference and urban change: implications for the promotion of well-being?’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1), 111-124. Google Scholar

Watson, V. (2014a) ‘African urban fantasies: dreams or nightmares?’, Environment and Urbanization, 26(1), 215-231. Google Scholar

Watson, V. (2014b) ‘Co-production and collaboration in planning: the difference’, Planning Theory & Practice, 15(1), 62-76. Google Scholar

Weru, J. (2004) ‘Community federations and city upgrading: the work of Pamoja Trust and Muungano in Kenya’, Environment and Urbanization, 16(1), 47-62. Google Scholar

Yiftachel, O. (2016) ‘Essay: re-engaging planning theory? Towards “South-Eastern” perspectives’, Planning Theory, 5(3), 211-222. Google Scholar


Details

Author details

Butcher, Stephanie