- UCL City Leadership Lab.
- Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO).
Urban observatories can play critical roles in decision-making, providing research and analysis relevant to the successful implementation of New Urban Agenda. The event seeks to showcase, explore and promote discussion around the functions of existing institutions involved in the generation and analysis of data to support urban decision-making. These institutions can inform specific policy decisions, implementation and monitoring, and promote inclusive approaches to governance. The event is designed to strengthen the existing network of shared interest in evidence-based governance, and deepen effective practices within this space. This focus of the session will be illustrated by a case study that profiles the work of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), a research agency that exists as a collaboration between two local universities and the Gauteng city-region government, South Africa. The GCRO is unusual in the context of urban observatories in its engagement with multiple governance levels, taking place across a heterogeneous city-region rather than a single, constrained urban core. GCRO is tasked with helping to build a knowledge base that ‘government, business, labour, civil society and residents all need’ (GCRO website, 'About') to improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the city region. The case study will include of one of GCRO’s recent work programmes on Green Assets and Infrastructure, which provides some detailed insight in to methods used, and the challenges and dilemmas that must be negotiated in this operating space. The presentation will illustrate the challenges of achieving evidence-based adaptive governance in a developing country urban context, including the constitution of hybrid research agencies, methodological approaches to knowledge co- production and the absorptive capacities of city executive systems. The topical content of the session links to Habitat III (H3) issue papers on Urban Governance and Urban Ecosystems and Resource Management. From the Governance perspective (‘enhanced governing capacities also rely on improved data gathering’), it seeks to understand how knowledge generation and analysis can be optimised in urban settings, especially to enable responsive and adaptive governance approaches in fluid and unpredictable contexts. This includes ways in which multi-stakeholder civil society contributions can be made to city governance. Among other things, the GCRO study will reflect on the role of tolerance and capacity to navigate uncertainty required of practitioners (in both the research and government domains) operating in this space.