Unpacking a sustainable and resilient future for Tshwane

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • Abstract:

    This paper examines the important yet largely misunderstood relationship between resilience and sustainability and the gap between these theoretical constructs and the practice of urban development. It explores how these two separate constructs, each with its own theoretical framework, complement and support each other as approaches to the complex issues arising from fastchanging urban conditions and unprecedented pressures on the urban social-ecological system. The City of Tshwane metropolitan urban system, which includes Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, forms the exploration ground for this study. As a metropolitan area undergoing rapid urbanization along with increasing resource depletion, service delivery issues and social injustices, Tshwane provides a number of extreme urban design and planning problems of varying scales within a single urban system that are directly related to the constructs of resilience and sustainability. The paper uses the example of gated communities, a common spatial response to the sustainability goal of security, to examine and elucidate a broader understanding of the relationship between sustainability and resilience attributes and their application to spatial development practices. It is proposed that the understanding of the structure and dynamics of the city provided by resilience thinking, combined with the normative positions offered by sustainability offers, a) a way for urban design and planning interventions to constructively engage with the realities of a fast-changing city; and b) a new understanding of resilience within urban design and planning fields which includes interpretations that extend beyond climate change mitigation or rapid urbanization adaptation, seeing its potential as means of informing transformative development across scales through establishing mechanisms for the development of spatial resilience.