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Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 955; doi:10.3390/su8090955

Moving from Adaptive to Transformative Capacity: Building Foundations for Inclusive, Thriving, and Regenerative Urban Settlements

1
Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, and African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, Cape Town 7700, South Africa
2
Meshfield, P.O. Box 12698, Mill Street, Cape Town 8010, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Patricia Romero-Lankao
Received: 31 May 2016 / Revised: 29 July 2016 / Accepted: 15 August 2016 / Published: 20 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3216 KB, uploaded 20 September 2016]   |  

Abstract

The commitment to understanding the implications of a 1.5 °C global temperature warming limit has contributed to a growing realisation that transformative adaptation is necessary to avoid catastrophic environmental and social consequences. This is particularly the case in urban settlements where disconnection from the systems that support life is pervasive and injustice and inequality play out daily. This paper argues that in order to transform towards thriving social-ecological systems, transformative capacity needs to be strengthened. The paper builds on the rich literature of adaptive capacity, alongside concepts of transformation that are drawn from resilience theory, organisational change, and developmental psychology. Reconnection to life-support systems, agency, and social cohesion are put forward as three foundational aspects of transformative capacity. A transdisciplinary case study of the FLOW programme in the Bergrivier Municipality, South Africa, is used to explore how transformative capacity has been built in practice. The case study explores an innovative programme that works with unemployed urban youth, alongside the exploration and introduction of a community currency in the informal business sector, and strengthening cross-scalar interaction between the local municipality and youth. The paper suggests that working across sectors and scales in a transdisciplinary manner is a challenging endeavour but necessary for building inclusive, thriving, and regenerative urban settlements. View Full-Text
Keywords: transformative capacity; adaptive capacity; agency; social cohesion; thrivability; South Africa transformative capacity; adaptive capacity; agency; social cohesion; thrivability; South Africa
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Ziervogel, G.; Cowen, A.; Ziniades, J. Moving from Adaptive to Transformative Capacity: Building Foundations for Inclusive, Thriving, and Regenerative Urban Settlements. Sustainability 2016, 8, 955.

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