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Localizing the SDGs Through the Formal-Informal Interface: The Case of Ard al-Liwa, Cairo


Year published: 2022
Categories: Book Chapter
URL Link: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-95979-1_4

Author / Authors:

  • Omar Nagati
  • Hanaa Gad
  • Amin El-Didi



The inclusion of a standalone urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reflects a recognition of the importance of cities for achieving the United Nations Agenda 2030. While the goal and its targets represent a more comprehensive view of the urban, compared with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), taking into account issues such as mobility, heritage, waste management, and public spaces, the universal nature of the SDGs limits their applicability to urban contexts in the Global South. They fall particularly short when it comes to engaging with the workings of urban informality, which is central to cities in the Global South and especially Africa, thereby reinforcing existing policies that tend to stigmatize informal practices. This chapter draws on research conducted at the neighborhood level in Cairo, Egypt, to illustrate the limitations of the SDG framework and current government approaches to informality by showing that informality exists on a spectrum that ranges from the formal to the informal. The actors, practices, and processes that exist along this spectrum discredit the mainstream dualistic understanding of formality and informality. They also offer alternative visions of sustainable development, as well as productive suggestions for more localized understandings of, and approaches to, the urban that are needed if Africa is to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Keywords - SDG 11, SDG 6, Policy-practice, Formal-informal interface, SDGs, Housing, Water access, Transportation, Cairo


  • Book Chapter