• Inclusive Cities

Inclusive Cities

Inclusive cities provide all citizens with opportunities to share in the social and economic opportunities of city life, and to have equitable access to resources. South African cities can address the socio-economic challenges of the apartheid segregated urban form through spatial transformation. This includes developing township areas, which is covered under the Productive Cities programme.

City dwellers want to live in a place that offers a decent quality of life: job opportunities; a safe and secure environment; access to infrastructure services, such as clean water; and access to social benefits such as health care, education and entertainment.

SACN's Inclusive Cities programme investigates whether residents have the opportunities and capacities to share equitably in the social and economic benefits of city life. It aims to redress past developmental imbalances, focusing on spatial planning and land use, human settlements and housing, and mobility and public transport.

In March 2014, the SACN organised the Spatial Transformation in Cities Conference. in conjunction with the Johannesburg Development Agency and the Housing Development Agency. To stimulate and provoke debate at the conference, a number of papers were produced. The full conference report can be found here.

 latest publications

  • The Urban Land Dialogue Series 2018. The urban land question is central to cities, however in post-apartheid era, the focus has been on rural than on urban land transformation. And yet land lies at the heart of all the projected and desired changes in cities. 
  • The Urban Land Paper Series Vol. 2 takes a transit oriented development approach as a lense through which to explore various land questions facing cities because TOD is unequivocally urban in its nature. This compilation represents the draft papers presented for discussion and conversation to inform a wider debate on the issue of urban land.
  • The State of Urban Safety in South African Cities: The second in a series of annual reports presenting research and practice findings in the governance and management of urban safety and crime prevention in South African cities.
  • Ekhaya Residential City Improvement on Economic Development for Inclusive Cities: Combating Inequalities in Urban Regeneration with the Social Economy. The poster and its content was presented at Metropolis World Congress 2017 and is a collaboration between SACN, Gauteng City-Region Observatory and the Johannesburg Development Agency.
  • The BE Integration roadmap was developed to determine and strengthen the role of metros in guiding and enabling spatial interventions that will result in more equitable, just and sustainable spatial outcomes.
  • The Beyond Gentrification Report investigates ways in which South African cities and urban development practitioners can move beyond the impacts of gentrification, towards better inclusivity and transformation.
  • The Guideline “Developing a collective approach to mixed use development in Transit Orientated Development (TOD) Precincts” provides a ten year review of City experience in using TOD approaches to land development in the vicinity of public transport stations. Cities used as case studies are Cape Town (Bus – My City), Johannesburg (Rail – Gautrain) and Tshwane (Rail – Prasa).
  • As part the five year programme beginning in July 2016 the SACN is seeking to undertake the first State of the Cities Infrastructure Report. To determine the content and nature of such a Report the SACN commissioned PDG to draft a brief Scoping Study, which is provided. This Scoping Study will be used by SACN to frame the compilation of the actual SOCIR.
  • Transport User Experience Poster seeks to elevate the lived experiences and voices of people using transport systems on a daily basis. The outcomes from two separate projects were used to develop this poster. A photographic based observation technique was used to capture a visual story of the daily travel experience of 5 people using different modes of transport in the city of Johannesburg during transport month. As well as a project where ten different people using different modes in the Gauteng Metros kept a travel diary to map, record and reflect on their travel experience for a full week.
  • The Transit Oriented Density Framework is a report that seeks to engage with the notion of higher density in relation to public transport. Higher urban density along public transport corridors has been a constant pillar of post-apartheid urban policy. This report unpacks the concept of density and its relationship to transport to inform a framework for assessing the extent to which areas in cities are transit-oriented. To illustrate how such a framework could be used, it was applied to case study sites in the Cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. The results of these case studies are presented in the report. The report is accompanied by a pull out poster and video outlining and explaining the framework.
  • BRT Impacts at a neighbourhood level Volume 2 is study assessing the impacts which BRT introduction in the Soweto, through Rea Vaya Phase 1 A, has had at the community and neighbourhood level. The study is a follow up to a 2013 study assessing the impacts of the Diepkloof Station. This study repeats the approach to assessing impacts in Diepkloof two years later but also includes an additional station Thokoza Park. The intention of these studies is to provide a baseline analysis for a longer term narrative on the transformation of BRT corridors over time.
  • The Urban Land Paper Series Volume 1.This set of eight working papers seeks to define land and outline the roles that land can play as a catalyst for spatial transformation in municipalities.
  • Assessing Capacity for Spatial Transformation in SACN Member Cities. A study that assessed the capacity for spatial transformation in eThekwini, Msunduzi, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Buffalo City, Mangaung and Nelson Mandela Bay.
  • Minibus Taxi Scenarios 2035. This report is based on a scenario exercise that brought together mobility thought leaders from national government, the cities, the minibus taxi industry and civil society, to explore the possibilities for collaboration, with a focus on innovation, service improvement and integration of the industry with other modes of public transport.
  • SPLUMA as a Tool for Spatial Transformation. This study seeks to understand the extent to which the introduction of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (16 of 2013) (SPLUMA) could assist in achieving spatial transformation.
  • South African Township Economies and Commercial Property Markets 2015. This report provides a picture of township economies and related commercial property markets, and offers a conceptual framework as a basis for understanding the nature of (and prospects for)township economies.
  • Assessing the Fiscal Impacts of Development. This report presents the findings of the study that explored tools to assess the fiscal impacts of developments.
  • 4th South African Urban Conference: Report of Proceedings. The 2015 Urban Conference took place at the Innovation Centre, City of Tshwane on 4–5 March 2015 under the theme of "Are cities driving local and national development".
  • From Housing to Human Settlements: Evolving Perspectives 2014. This book explores what moving from housing to human settlements means, and reflects on the policy, legislative and financial frameworks that govern and inform how human settlements are planned and delivered in South Africa.
  • ‘How to’ Build Transit-Oriented Cities: A South African Cities Perspective 2014. This book explores what is needed to achieve transit-oriented city growth and provides useful insights for cities striving to restructure apartheid spatial patterns.
  • Developing a Public Transport Investment Assessment Framework. This report explores how cities can more effectively begin to assess whether public transport investments are yielding desired land development returns and should be read in conjunction with the How to Build Transit Oriented Cities publication.
  • Informal City Reader ZA. Part of The Rockefeller Foundations’ Informal City Dialogues (IDCs), this book chronicles stories from the informal realm. These stories are a running narrative of the lives of informal workers and settlers in the city, offering a window into the lives of street vendors, waste-pickers, and even home-based beer brewers.

useful links


The SACN was the secretariat of the IBSA Working Group on Human Settlements, which is centred on joint research, policy dialogues and technical cooperation.
Urban Food Security Project 2009. The purpose of this project was to understand and plan for food security in South and Southern Africa.
Inclusive Cities Annual Report 2009. The report highlights the range of urban development and management challenges that must be faced in creating truly inclusive cities that provide socioeconomic opportunities and an improved quality of life for all.
Inclusive African Cities Conference 2007.
Over 150 delegates attended the conference seeking to deepen understanding of how to make rapidly urbanising African cities more inclusive and to provide the basis for developing locally appropriate tools for doing so. A summarised report is available here.
Study into Urban Poverty 2002. The project covers five South African urban poverty reduction strategies and interventions.