Realising Just Cities is a 4-year collaborative research programme (2016-2019) hosted by the Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. Realising Just Cities is part of an international network of cities for change within the Mistra Urban Futures centre, and the overall programme aims to coproduce knowledge and action to support sustainable urban transformations in different urban contexts in the Global North and South. Our UK-based work is located in Sheffield and Greater Manchester, with international links through our comparative urban research projects to cities in Argentina, India, Kenya, South Africa and Sweden.

Realising Just Cities and the Sustainable Development Goals 

The Realising Just Cities research programme is primarily relevant to SDG 11, which focuses on sustainable cities and communities, but also cuts across many other SDG themes including resilient infrastructure (SDG 9), climate change (SDG 13), participatory governance (SDG 16), and North-South collaboration (SDG 17).

One of our action research projects within the Mistra Urban Futures network is an international study of how cities are interpreting, implementing and engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals. Participating cities include Sheffield (UK), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Cape Town (South Africa), Gothenburg and Malmö (Sweden), Kisumu (Kenya) and Shimla (India). An in-depth analysis and research is being carried out in each city, in parallel with a comparative component, with all cities involved in cross-city learning and interaction.

This project started in 2017 and will continue until at least the end of 2019. Our partners include local authorities, among them Sheffield City Council, as well the Indian social enterprise Nagrika and the New School’s Observatory on Latin America. The aim is to work actively with city partners to support their understanding and implementation of the SDGs, and to facilitate learning and interaction between the seven participating cities. The findings from this project will be used to feedback to ongoing UN revisions of SDG targets and indicators.

Our work on this project to date includes a series of ‘City Briefs’, which give an introduction to the case study cities and how they have started to engage with the SDGs, including the UN’s recommended Tier 1 indicators for SDG 11 on sustainable cities.

In 2018, the Sheffield research team submitted evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee’s follow-up inquiry on the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK, based on our learning from international project partners about how SDG localisation can be supported and enabled. Locally, we are working with Sheffield City Council to pilot an approach to using the SDGs as a tool to evaluate integrated infrastructure investment.

Researchers and city partners have participated in cross-city knowledge exchange workshops at two Realising Just Cities conferences in Kisumu (2017) and Cape Town (2018), and Sheffield will host the next of these meetings in October 2019.

To find out more please contact Kristina Diprose