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Urban Festival 2021

October 27, 2021 @ 8:30 am - October 29, 2021 @ 5:00 pm

Main Conference: 27 October to 29 October 2021 

The Rebuilt City, the 2021 edition of the Urban Festival, aims to map new frameworks, relationships, possibilities and designs for how our cities will recover and rebuild amidst multiple crises.

Through dialogues, workshops, activations, social media and creative engagements, The Rebuilt City invites a South African and global conversation about how our cities and towns can re-energise their commitments to the New Urban Agenda by becoming more sustainable and resilient. Read the full Curator Statement here

This event is free to attend thanks to the South African Cities Network, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Cities Support Programme, SALGA, the Department of Human Settlements (DoHs) and Our Future Cities.

If you would like to attend. Register here.

The Programme

The 2021 edition comprises a 3-day conference, three community project activations countrywide, a poster competition and a series of partner and Open Call events as part of Urban Month 2021.

This is the premier South African event on cities and urban development matters. You’ll learn about and engage with how cities and their various actors can play a role in contributing to recovery and resilience amidst times of multiple crises. 

Key themes include:

  • We would like to understand how cities could attract green industries and hence green jobs but ensure lasting benefits for communities and the youth.
  • We would like to learn about the progress cities are making in the race to decarbonise while brokering appropriate partnerships to ensure inclusive growth.
  • We would like to explore how rapidly delivering affordable housing could be a key driver in achieving more efficient and sustainable city centres.
  • How can the relationships within and between different spheres of government be recalibrated for the greater good of society?
  • What is the potential for a scalable approach to community-led projects, elevating them from test sites to neighbourhood and city-wide impact?

You will also be exposed to the latest research coming out of South African Cities Networks and its partners.


Session 1: Wednesday, October 27 | 8:30 AM – 10:00  AM

Opening, Welcome and Morning Lectures 
Opening Address by Honourable Deputy Minister of Department of Cooperative Governance and Tradition Affairs, Kopeng Obed Bapela.
Interview with Sithole Mbanga, CEO SA Cities Network and curator Rashiq Fataar, Director Our Future Cities by MC Ayabonga Cawe
Spoken Word Performance by Emmah Mabye
Lecture: Designing for Recovery by Dr Luyanda Mpahlwa
Interview: The nuts and bolts of Emergency Governance: The case of Gauteng Province by Mduduzi Mbada, Head: Policy, Research & Advisory Services Unit, Office of the Premier, Gauteng Province

Register here

Session 2: Wednesday, October 27 | 10:10 AM – 12:00  PM

Recalibration and innovation of post-pandemic governance

Panellists: Andrew Boraine, Dr Soobs Moonsammy 

South African cities face a myriad of challenges, which have been highlighted by the impact of COVID-19. A rethink of urban development and city management is needed in light of this shock, coming on top of persistently high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Africa, and particularly our cities. The pandemic represents an opportunity to recalibrate and innovate in city management and urban development for the greater good of society. This session will provide an opportunity to explore some of those possibilities.

Film: This session will open with the Good Hood Stories Film focussed on Helenvale Safety and Peace through Urban Upgrading (SPUU) Programme.
Register here

12:00 PM – 13:00 PM – Lunch Session: Musical Urbanism:  A Lyrical Experiment, hosted by Joseph Quarco 
Register here

Session 3: Wednesday, October 27 | 13:00 PM – 15:00  PM

Cities as green job engines

Panellists: Matthew Cullinan, Gaylor Montmasson-Clair, Collen Masango

The constraints that climate change and environmental degradation place on economies have created the opportunity for extensive growth in green industry and technology. This session will explore how cities could attract green industries and stimulate employment in the green technology industries while creating lasting benefits for youth and communities.

Music: This session will open with a song entitled Southern Cities composed by Ghanaian Cape Town-based musician and insurgent planner, the first original song of urbanism in the Global South.

City Sustainability Showcase: City of Tshwane, Tshwane House incorporates sustainable building features and has achieved a five-star Green Star SA rating.

Register here

Session 4: Wednesday, October 27 | 15:15 PM – 17:00  PM

The case for rebuilding cities through a circular economy approach

Panellists: Aleksander Stojakovic, Dr Carolina Giraldo Nohra, Deborah Nartey, Paul Currie
South Africa’s post-Covid-19 Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan highlight the circular economy as a key component, to ensure environmental protection and the sustainable use of the country’s natural resources. This session will discuss how Circular Economy approaches can help cities and towns better cope with crises and how they can be applied as part of a long term resilience strategy in South Africa.

Register here



Session 5: Thursday, October 28 | 8:30 AM – 10:00  AM

Welcome and Morning Lecture 
Opening Address by the Honourable Deputy Minister Ms Pamela Tshwete – Department of Human Settlements
Round-up of Day 1 by MC Ayabonga Cawe
Spoken Word Performance by Emmah Mabye
Lecture: Don’t stop talking: ​Community Engagement in ​a crisis in Soweto – Monique Cranna
Register here

Session 6: Thursday, October 28 | 10:10 AM – 12:00  PM

The race to decarbonise our cities 
Panellists: Megan Euston-Brown, Kedibone Modiselle, Hastings Chikoko

Cities are where 78% of the world’s energy is consumed and 60% of the world’s emissions are produced. As cities around the world race to decarbonise, those in Africa and the Global South are in particular need of partnerships and financing to achieve ambitious climate goals. 

This session will open with an interview between Rashiq Fataar and Jodi Allemeier on New City Models for the South African context.
Register here

12:00 PM – 13:00 PM – Lunch Session – 6 Ways for better metropolitan governance: Cape Town as a case study, hosted by Young Urbanists 
Register here

Session 7: Thursday, October 28 | 13:00 PM – 15:00  PM

Affordable housing as a key driver of sustainable cities 

Panellists: Carel Kleynhans, Georgina Smit and Karabelo Collen Pooe

This session will explore how rapidly delivering affordable housing at scale could be a key driver in achieving more efficient and sustainable cities and inner city areas.

This session will open Huda Tayob sharing a series of films about her project The Archive of Forgetfulness Project 

City Sustainability Showcase: City of Ekurhuleni – Blesbokspruit Wetland Project – Rehabilitation of one of the largest wetlands in Southern Africa, returning it to international RAMSAR standards
Register here

Session 8: Thursday, October 28 | 15:15 PM – 17:00  PM

Public spaces and streets for post-Covid city recovery

Panellists: Bavusile Ramakane, Rashiq Fataar, Carolyn Daher, Demetrio Scopelliti, Teddy Awori
This session will explore the barriers and opportunities for South African and African cities to ignite action around tactical urbanism approaches to reconfigure the public realm and city streets as part of Covid and Post-Covid city strategies.
Register here



Session 9: Friday, October 29 | 8:30 AM – 10:00  AM

Welcome, Lecture & Discussion
Opening By the SA Cities Network Council Chairperson and Executive Mayor of Buffalo City, Cllr. Xola Pakati
Round-up of Day 2: by MC Ayabonga Cawe
Spoken Word Performance by Emmah Mabye

Lecture: Mobility as the foundation for rebuilding cities by SACN Board Chairperson, Yolisa Kani.
Panel Discussion: Sean Cooke, Gail Jennings, Ofentse Mokwena A panel discussion with leading thinkers and researchers in the transport sector on whether mobility can be the foundation for crisis response, rebuilding, and the future resilience.

Register here


Session 10: Friday, October 29 | 10:10 AM – 12:00  PM

Scaling community-led projects for city-wide impact

Panelists: Mzikhona Mgedle, Nontobeko Sibisi

This session will reflect on the 12 IUDF Seed Funding community projects and explore the potential for a scalable approach, elevating them from micro-test sites to having neighbourhood and city-wide impact.

Interview: This session will open with an interview with SA Cities Network CEO, Sithole Mbanga: discussing the State of the Cities Report with the theme of Cooperative Governance.

Register here

12:00 PM – 13:00 PM – Lunch Session – New Landscapes: Towards a greener future. Featuring works from Thozama Muta, Tessa Chittenden & Tessel Pool
Register here

Session 11: Friday, October 29 | 13:00 PM – 15:00  PM

Have Smart(er) Cities enhanced city responses and resilience?

Panellists: Richard Gevers, Judy Backhouse

During this session, the panellists will consider and propose ways forward for smart city and innovation interventions to assist in the response and recovery to crises and emergencies. They will respond to a video conversation amongst a range of practitioners on African Urban Digital Innovations earlier this year about the challenges to smart city innovation, which posits that major institutional challenges still need to be overcome to fully embrace the promises of innovation and tech in making our cities smarter.

This session will open with a presentation on a political cartoon mural that will be installed at a prominent location in downtown Johannesburg.

City Sustainability Showcase: eThekwini Municipality – Community-led cleaning and maintaining of the Aller river and forested area around it with the employment of ‘Eco-Champs’,

Register here

Session 12: Friday, October 29 | 15:15 PM – 17:00  PM

Events and Culture as a stimulus for city recovery

Panellists:  Marco Morgan, Dillion Phiri, Caryn Green

Humans have a need for gathering, social interaction and shared experiences. While COVID-19 has transformed the world we live in, cultural events, activations and festivals could form a key part of the strategy to reinvigorate city life and rebuild confidence across the country.

Register here


October 27, 2021 @ 8:30 am
October 29, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
Event Categories:


South African Cities Network (SACN)
Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
Department of Human Settlements (DHS)
Our Future Cities (OFC)