ROADMAP to RISE Africa 2021

RISE Africa is framed around Inspiring Action for Sustainable Cities and will explore the following themes:

Africa is the 21st century changemaker – global outcomes of sustainable urban development
Our urban continent – exploring AU Agenda 2063
Covid-19 in the City – how a global pandemic realigns our priorities and visions for the future
Facilitate and demonstrate – the role of local government in shaping collaborative movements
We built this city on stocks and flows – promoting productive urban resource consumption
Smarter cities for empowered citizens – behavioural science for wellbeing
Climate crisis and our cities – embracing a new normal of uncertainty
Urban intelligence for the discerning decision maker – using sound data and evidence

Looping our cities into the global circular economy – key principles for urban resource management
Good development is good business – private sector roles in urban wellbeing
African wisdom in the digital present – traditional knowledge for modern living
Shaping and owning urban African narratives – using media, art and literature to rewrite the African city
Our nature, our city – enhancing the benefits of urban ecosystem services
Bouncing forward – crafting resilient societies
Financing the future [of our cities] – unlocking investment for transformative infrastructures and services
Collaborate Create Celebrate – promoting our individual and collective actions

With the occurrence of Covid-19, RISE Africa 2020 has been reframed as a monthly series of online showcases and engagements, which is to explore the themes of RISE Africa and build momentum towards the RISE Africa movement. The following roadmap outlines the key events that have taken place to build RISE Africa and the events that are still to take place up until the beginning of the RISE Africa movement. RISE Africa themes have been explored, in the form of shared resources, webinars, online engagements, or showcases and these events will continue throughout this journey. Please reach out to for further information or to express interest in participating.

To keep updated on the RISE Africa events please subscribe by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

In spite of under-capacitated healthcare systems in African countries, our cities are presenting signs of resilience as the numbers of recorded covid-19 cases are much lower than the rest of the world. There could be many reasons for this, including a young population, warm climate, and experience gained from preventing previous pandemics. However, the pandemic and the government responses have still hurt our economies, increasing the vulnerabilities experienced in our cities, and reducing the resources available to quickly recover. Vulnerable communities are experiencing the effects of Covid-19 more than anyone else, and the structural inequalities in our cities have never been felt more acutely. These manifest as underserviced communities,  price hikes on staple foods and other resources, unequal access to resources and even fewer opportunities for economic participation. Thus, it’s significant to see African urban leaders working with communities in tackling these challenges. These concerns will be with us for years to come, and reinforce that Covid-19 is a moment to Inspire new approaches for Action towards Sustainable Cities.

ICLEI Africa Webinar: Lessons from the crises.


Through July, ICLEI Africa, FAO and RUAF convened the inaugural #AfricanCITYFOODMonth Campaign to share ideas, resources and actions around the theme of Repositioning Resilient and Nutritious Food Systems in African Cities. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting responses, this campaign was key in bringing together policy makers, mayors, researchers, agri-food entrepreneurs and food system advocates to reflect on the immense disruptions that Africa’s food systems are currently experiencing. The crisis has made plain the many structural challenges that underpin our urban food systems, and reminded us that food can be a vital lever for addressing many of our city’s challenges, and shaping the equitable, sustainable cities that we seek.

Gender in Decision Making

Women experience inequalities and vulnerabilities in our cities on a daily basis, which are often exacerbated during times of crisis. What are some of the key ideas that cities should consider when adopting gender responsive approaches? How do we ensure that women are fully represented in urban development programmes, policies and practices? These questions were explored in our mainstreaming gender webinar and article.

See more details in our RISE Africa Digest and our #AfricanCITYFOODmonth Report

Our ability to achieve the SDGs by 2030 will depend on the extent to which the global goals are matched with ambitious action at the local level. Local governments have a critical role to play in achieving each of the global goals, especially SDG 11 which is dedicated to building sustainable cities and communities. Given their mandate for service delivery and many of the cross-cutting SDG themes, and given that they are the closest level of government to the communities whose lives the SDGs seek to transform, local governments are the key stakeholders in achieving the SDG principle: leaving no one behind. This month shared lessons on localising the SDGs, with a focus on uMhlathuze, South Africa and with insights from African Cities and thought-leaders

See more details in our RISE Africa Digest

Given rapid changes in the environment and urban development, we are faced with many shifting challenges and many uncertain ones. This dynamic context requires more flexibility to respond to change, while charting a course to improve social, economic and environmental wellbeing.

Unfortunately most of us are not comfortable engaging with uncertainty, and we rely on planning to demystify and control the future, by setting key objectives, targets and indicators in a linear manner. However, static planning and policy tools are no longer enough to support sustainable urbanisation. This month, joined by UNESCO’s Foresight Department, we explored how futuring approaches and increased futures literacy are vital for improving comfort with uncertainty, allowing us to step away from static images of the future, and reinvigorating our work in the present.

See more details in our RISE Africa Digest

Mobility is a complex feature of African cities, with people generally having to travel long distances between home, places of work and for recreation. We need to transition to sustainable modes of transport, completely rethink how we co-locate work, living and amenities in our cities, and drive action for inclusive approaches. This is urgent, given the climate crisis, structural inequalities of access and the need to avoid lock-in to unsustainable infrastructures and ways of living. Cities are at the forefront of driving positive change and are the catalysts for ensuring our African roads and spaces are accessible to all, safe, inclusive and climate friendly.

See more details on #AfricanMobilityMonth in our RISE Africa Digest

Circular Economy has become a more prolific term to describe resource efficiency and a new orientation to production and consumption. We know that transition to a circular economy will not be effective if we do not reshape the concentrators of production and consumption: our cities. But what does circular economy mean in for African Cities? This month, we convened a series of events and workshops to share our ongoing work on visualising resources and infrastructures (#hiddenflows) and formulating key considerations for implementing the circular economy in African cities, with our partners.

See more details in our RISE Africa Digest

One Health is emerging as a concept that connects Animal, Human and Environmental Health through the ideas of shared space and codependence. This is particularly relevant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought the question of distance, shared environment and public health to the fore. This month, we reflected on what a One Health perspective could offer to reshaping public space in our cities. It presented varied provocations for rethinking what constitutes public open in our cities. It explored how to incorporate nature and greenery in urban development to support liveability, public safety and wellbeing. These include developing public foodways, centering mental wellbeing through tacit interaction, taking a holistic approach to early childhood development, and valorising access to nature among competing urban development priorities.

See more details in our RISE Africa Digest

This month we will start to warm up towards RISE Africa, by sharing a series of provocative thought pieces to guide deliberations in the next month.