Young Urbanists launch Durban chapter to revitalise city

Published Oct 12, 2023


In the wake of recent challenges faced by Durban, including the July 2021 unrest and the 2022 floods causing severe infrastructure damage, a new initiative has emerged to reignite collective citizen engagement.

The Young Urbanists South Africa Durban Chapter, an extension of the well-established organisation that originated in Cape Town in 2013, has set its sights on addressing the complex issues confronting South Africa's second-largest coastal city.

The inaugural event, held in August at the iconic One Durban, a masterpiece by the renowned Norman Eaton and sponsored by Urban Lime, featured a panel of both young and established urbanists. The discussion delved into not only the challenges faced by Durban but also the opportunities for positive transformation.

Sikho Msomi, leader of City People eThekwini, emphasised the importance of urbanists nationwide leveraging trust to form new partnerships for the redesign and reconstruction of South Africa's existing cities. Msomi said: "To regenerate and renew Durban, our city requires a dynamic and pragmatic theory of change that translates into action and positive impact."

Joining the panel was Jonny Friedman, CEO and founder of Urban Lime, along with Nothile Mkhize, a young planner. Both stressed the necessity for collaborations to foster a shared vision for Durban's future and drive positive change.

Friedman expressed optimism, stating: "Durban is uniquely positioned to be the leading African city to help carry the economy and be the central space of new innovation, young black African entrepreneurship, and the living example of the future African city."

The Young Urbanists Durban Chapter aims to collaborate with stakeholders such as Friedman, engaging with various government, municipal, public, and private entities within the built environment of eThekwini.

Amanda O. Mathe, communications lead and founding member of the Durban Chapter, echoed the sentiments of collaboration. "Our cities are in dire need of inclusive spaces that cater for the varied generations we have. Young Urbanists exist to bring about the necessary conversation among all stakeholders," said Mathe.

Highlighting the potential for reciprocal learning, Mathe emphasised: "Cape Town and urbanist professionals can learn so much from Durban, and vice versa. If our cities can be transformed, they can be part of the many drivers to make our country more democratic, climate-friendly, safer, and economically vibrant."

Young Urbanists, a non-profit community advocating for positive change in cities, aims to empower a young generation dedicated to reinventing spaces to meet the diverse needs and challenges of the South African dream. If you share a passion for sustainable urban development and wish to contribute to the revitalisation of Durban, you can express your interest by completing the form available on their website, and a member of the team will reach out.

IOL Environment