Published 2017-11-22

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Global cities compared

In November, Mistra Urban Futures is holding its annual conference — this year in Kisumu, Kenya. The purpose of the conference is to bring together stakeholders from the various platforms, and for them to focus together on local challenges.

‘It’s an important part of our process that we embarked on last year when the second phase of the programme began. We met in Gothenburg and it was a kind of launch of co-production of knowledge and transdisciplinary research,’ says David Simon, Programme Director of Mistra Urban Futures.

This time, the focus will be on learning from comparative issues relating to various themes. The conference is aptly named Realising Just Cities — Learning Through Comparison.

Mistra Urban Futures is a multi-year initiative for research and development work oriented towards socially and ecologically sustainable urban development. Mistra is responsible for the main funding. It consists of six platforms in cities around the world that work together and separately: Cape Town, Kisumu, Gothenburg, Sheffield–Manchester, Malmö and also, since the spring, Stockholm as a ‘node’.

The strategy of Mistra Urban Futures is to cooperate closely with various stakeholders in the same area — researchers, decision makers, private stakeholders, interest organisations and others. The aim is always to develop knowledge that is put to use and facilitates action and decisions.

But needs differ from one city to another, and one of the purposes of the conference is to convey understanding of the international context to the participants.

One of the excursions included in the conference is to the Kisumu landfill facility, which is surrounded by controversies. On the second day of the conference, a further excursion will be made to a fishing village outside Kisumu. Here, the University of Gothenburg’s Academy of Design and Crafts (HDK) is running a project that supports women who weave baskets and other utility items from a grass that grows along the shores.

The only thing that concerns David Simon is the ongoing election in Kenya and that its outcome will cause difficulties.