Next Urban Champions* – meet the innovators, practitioners and thinkers who are revolutionising African cities!

Next Urban Champions* - meet the innovators, practitioners and thinkers who are revolutionising African cities!

What transformative actions are already improving our citizens’ mobility, energy, health, food, waste, water and ecological systems?

The world as we know it is changing drastically due to influences such as COVID-19, urbanisation and climate change, requiring the world to adapt and be proactive about shaping sustainable, stable futures for all. African cities are not locked into traditional thinking – rather, our cities can benefit from lessons in other places and can define their own development trajectories. This new era provides space for African solutions led by innovators, entrepreneurs practitioners and urban champions.

Innovative thinkers and practitioners are questioning the stated norms, dreaming of new futures, rejecting the status quo and bringing forward fresh local ideas. They are making impactful changes and bringing actions to life to shape sustainable, inclusive urban futures.

This session will showcase a number of urban champions from across the African continent who are transforming African cities. We highlight works in emerging sectors such as mobility, health, food, waste, procurement, and more. Come, engage and be inspired by these Next Urban Champions – and join the movement.


Le monde tel que nous le connaissons est en train de changer radicalement en raison d’influences telles que la COVID-19, l’urbanisation et le changement climatique, ce qui nécessite que le monde s’adapte et soit proactif afin de façonner des avenirs durables et stables pour tous. Les villes africaines ne sont pas enfermées dans une pensée traditionnelle. Au contraire, nos villes peuvent bénéficier des leçons tirées d’autres endroits et définir leur propre trajectoire de développement. Cette nouvelle ère laisse le champ libre aux solutions africaines pilotées par des innovateurs, des entrepreneurs, des professionnels et des champions urbains.

Les penseurs et les professionnels du développement urbain qui font preuve d’innovation remettent en question les normes établies, rêvent de nouveaux avenirs, rejettent le statu quo et proposent de nouvelles idées ancrées dans le contexte local. Ils apportent des changements significatifs et donnent vie à des actions pour façonner des avenirs urbains durables et inclusifs.

Cette session mettra en lumière un certain nombre de champions urbains de tout le continent africain qui transforment les villes africaines. Nous mettrons en avant des travaux dans des secteurs émergents tels que la mobilité, la santé, l’alimentation, les déchets, les marchés publics, etc. Venez, engagez-vous et laissez-vous inspirer par ces futurs champions urbains – et rejoignez le mouvement.


Host: ICLEI Africa

Rashiq Fataar

Director, Our Future Cities

Oladosu Adenike

Activist, Ecofeminist, Ecoreporter, founder of ILeadClimate, advocate for the restoration of Lake Chad

Olamide Udoma-Ejorh

Director, Lagos Urban Development Initiative

Nigel Topping

UN High Level Climate Action Champion, COP26

Malaika Toyo

Principle director, Made Culture

Nabeel Petersen

Co-director, Pivot Collective

Wekesa Zablon

African Circular Economy Network (ACEN), CEC Nairobi Chapter, founder of UON Bikeshare program

Session Summary

This dialogue aimed to showcase urban champions who are transforming their cities and improving health, the built environment, circularity and ecological systems. Given that the world is changing drastically due to environmental crises and technological advancements, adaptive and innovative responses are required.

In reflecting on the possible responses Next Urban Champions could take, panelists looked to enablers such as the role of language as a starting point to championing a new future for African cities. Speaking the language of a community translates into understanding their needs and building with the community as co-owners and leaders of project implementation. 

The discussion also emphasised that African cities are not locked into traditional thinking – and with a different type of thinking, cities can benefit from lessons from other places and define their own development trajectories. 

The panelists remarked that Next Urban Champions are those who are willing to make change using innovative methodologies that challenge the status quo. They can start small, by actively inviting communities into safe spaces of co-designing or  adopting toolkits to engage with communities. It is important that Next Urban Champion start now in order for their ideas to gain momentum, take hold and lead to change. 

This new era provides space for African solutions led by innovators, entrepreneurs, practitioners and urban champions. We can all be urbanists!