Peri-Urban Resilient Ecosystems (PURE) aims to support the development of just and representative climate resilient urban strategies in dryland Windhoek, Namibia, to enhance future health, wellbeing and economic development. The project’s principal focus concerns applying an innovative values-based scenario tool to develop urban policy informed by multiple stakeholder value systems (e.g., municipal authorities, urban planners, marginalised and informal communities). Stakeholder scenarios will consider both historic and contemporary climate, land-use and rural-urban migration patterns, whilst future scenarios will consider how the City of Windhoek’s National Integrated Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (ICCSAP) will perform under urban planning, conservation and governance scenarios.
In Namibia, located in southern Africa, unplanned peri-urban growth (approx. 7.2% per annum) and exposure to climate-induced hazards (e.g. drought, rising temperatures, falling dam levels, localised flash flooding) continues to erode basic infrastructure and public services, ecosystems and entrench historical inequalities. For example, in 2018, the state of informal settlements in Namibia was considered a humanitarian crisis, and in 2019, following six years of drought, a state of emergency was declared. These factors threaten future progress towards achieving healthy communities, regional economic development, and multiple sustainable development goals. In these circumstances, pro-active engagement and inclusion of local stakeholders, especially marginalised voices, in urban planning has the potential to improve decision-making, reduce historical inequalities, promote benefit-sharing and social-ecological resilience. Yet, few attempts have been made to assess the drivers of unplanned informal settlement expansion, their reciprocal interaction with social economic and environmental impacts (e.g., food, water, energy, land and livelihood security), how this feeds into current planning processes, now and in the future. By applying a participatory values-based scenario modelling approach that allows diverse stakeholders, including marginalised rural-urban communities, to articulate their perspectives concerning future urban policy planning processes, our hope is that this will encourage the co-design of equitable future climate resilient urban development pathways, and serve as a future policy model for the country, with wider application across SEI space in health and wellbeing, urban green infrastructure and African urbanization.
What we do
As a collaboration between UK, Namibian and South African partners, specifically: the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Integrated Land Management Institute), University of Namibia (Department of Biology); Namibian Housing Action Group; University of Cape Town (African Climate Development Initiative), ICLEI Africa (Urban Natural Assets); University of Winchester (Department of Accounting, Finance, Mathematics and Economics) and the University of York (SEI; Environment and Geography; Biology and Politics) PURE has the following interlinked objectives:
(1) Urban public policy participation: To enable the active participation of stakeholders, especially poorer rural and urban communities, and the inclusion of their varied views and value systems, in the policy and multi-level governance processes informing future urban climate resilient strategies in Windhoek, Namibia.
(2) Empirical data collection, partnerships and capacity building: To collect primary data, using household surveys, biophysical observations, and scenario analysis workshops, key informant interviews and focus group discussions, from urban and rural communities focusing on value perceptions of rural-urban linkages, climate change impacts, livelihoods and urban informality.
(3) Building partnerships: To strengthen collaborations between organizations active in Windhoek’s development, with research organizations in Namibia, South Africa and the UK across public, private and civil sectors including researchers, practitioners, policymakers, business and civil society.
(4) Dissemination and outreach: Together with ICLEI Africa, we will prepare a policy brief for municipal authorities from environment, health and human settlements departments tasked with urban settlement upgrading and produce a training handbook describing how to apply our hybrid methodology. Alongside, we will co-produce academic articles in a leading international peer-reviewed journal in the urban-environment-development space.
What would success look like?
Encourage the development of inclusive and participatory urban climate resilience strategies that are crucial to securing regional economic prosperity and social-ecological sustainability.
Promote awareness on climate-resilient urban development and future water energy and food resource flows in the face of the ongoing drought in Namibia.
Prepare and submit a co-designed (with international partners) grant application focusing on extending the application of our methodology to other GCRF ODA countries.
Train a young cadre of Namibian climate and social-ecological system researchers in the innovative methodology and fieldwork methods.
Dr Steve Cinderby (Stockholm Environment Institute York; SEI head of Health and Wellbeing; Senior researcher, Co-leader SEI Initiative on City Health and Well-being)
University of York
Prof Rob Marchant (Environment and Geography; York Institute for Tropical Ecology (KITE); Professor of Tropical Ecology
Dr Jessica P R Thorn (Environment and Geography; York Institute for Tropical Ecology (KITE); Postdoctoral Research Associate)
Dr Adam P Hejnowicz (Biology; Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN); Postdoctoral Research Associate)