Economic development, decoupling and urban infrastructure : the role of innovation for an urban transition in Cape Town

Hyman, Katherine (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates the case of the Cape Town Central City Provincial Government Revitalisation Initiative (CCPGRI) as a means to further understanding of socio-technical transitions. The departure point for this research is the recognition that the current economic growth and development trajectory is unsustainable. Despite this, deeply institutionalised frames of reference for decision-making reinforce and perpetuate the utilisation of (incumbent) sociotechnical systems which diminish finite resources and deteriorate eco-system services. The theoretical notion of decoupling, however, offers an alternative economic development paradigm. Decoupling has been identified, within this thesis, as the guiding framework through which adaption strategies should be carried out. This was indentified through a comprehensive literature review and an assessment of Cape Town's critical networked infrastructure. Networked infrastructure conveys flows of resources across vast urban spaces, in a linear configuration, thus conditioning resource flows and consumption. The case of Cape Town, however, illustrates that a linear configuration of infrastructure is both financially and environmentally unsustainable. Moreover, the case provides the empirical evidence for decoupling, reinforcing the argument for the adoption of the notion as an alternative development paradigm. Networked infrastructure has furthermore been identified as a socio-technical system, and therefore is considered as the component requiring a system transition and the subsequent intervention point for decoupling economic growth from resource consumption. From an implementation perspective, socio-technical system transitions, achieved through innovation, are the necessary component for realising sustainable urban development. It is argued that innovation, necessary for socio-technical system transitions, should be the product of sustainability-orientated innovation systems (SOIS's). SOIS's are implicitly linked to decoupling through the shared goal of enabling greater sustainability. The Cape Town CCPGRI has been extrapolated onto the multi-levelled perspective (MLP) model and is used to further understanding about how socio-technical system transitions are achieved. Findings indicate that socio-technical systems transitions are possible in urban areas that have multiple niche innovations developing simultaneously. Of significance is the presence of an intermediary, who is able to facilitate and manage the development of niche innovations emerging from SOIS's. It is therefore argued that high quality networking is critical for achieving socio-technical transitions which emerge from SOIS's.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die geval van die "Cape Town Central City Provincial Government Revitalisation Initiative" (CCPGRI) as 'n manier om die begrip van sosio-tegniese oorgange te bevorder. Die vertrek punt vir hierdie navorsing is die insig dat die huidige verloop van ekonomiese groei en ontwikkeling onvolhoubaar is. Ten spyte hiervan versterk en verleng geïnstitusionaliseerde verwysingsraamwerke vir besluitneming die gebruik van (opgelegde) sosiotegniese sisteme wat uitputbare bronne verminder en ekosisteem dienste laat agteruitgaan. Die teoretiese idee van ontkoppeling bied nogtans 'n alternatiewe paradigma vir ekonomiese ontwikkeling. Hierdie tesis identifiseer ontkoppeling as die rigtinggewende raamwerk waardeur aanpassing strategië uitgevoer behoort te word. Dit is geïdentifiseer deur 'n omvattende literatuurstudie en 'n beoordeling van Kaapstad se kritiese infrastruktuur netwerk. Netwerke van infrastuktuur vervoer die vloei van bronne in 'n liniêre konfigurasie oor wye stedelike ruimtes en kondisioneer daardeur die vloei en verbruik van bronne. Die geval van Kaapstad illustreer egter dat 'n liniêre konfigurasie van infrastruktuur beide finansieel en omgewingsverwant onvolhoubaar is. Verder voorsien hierdie geval die empiriese bewyse vir ontkoppeling en versterk daardeur die argument vir die aanvaarding van die idee as „n alternatiewe paradigma vir ontwikkeling. Infrastruktuur netwerke is verder geïdentifiseer as 'n sosio-teniese sisteem en word daarom geag as die komponent wat 'n sisteem oorgang vereis en die gevolglike punt van ingryping om ekonomiese groei van bron verbruik te ontkoppel. Uit „n implemetering oogpunt is die oorgang van sosio-tegniese sisteme, voltrek deur innovering, die noodsaaklike komponent om volhoubare stedelike ontwikkeling te realiseer. Daar word geredeneer dat innovering – noodsaaklik vir sosio-tegniese sisteem oorgang – die produk behoort te wees van volhoubaar georiënteerde innovering sisteme. Hierdie sisteme is implisiet verbind aan ontkoppeling deur die gedeelde doel om groter volhoubaarheid moontlik te maak. Die Kaapstadse CCPGRI is op die meervlakkige perspektief model ge-ekstrapoleer en is aangewend om begrip te bevorder van hoe sosio-tegniese sisteem oorgang bereik word. Bevindings dui daarop dat sosio-tegniese sisteem oorgang moontlik is in stedelike gebiede waar meervoudige niche innoverings gelyktydig ontwikkel. Die teenwoordigheid van 'n tussenganger, wat die ontwikkeling van niche innoverings wat voortspruit uit die volhoubaar georiënteerde innovering sisteme kan fasiliteer en bestuur, is belangrik. Daar word dus geredeneer dat hoë kwaliteit netwerk daarstelling krities is vir die uitvoer van sosio-tegniese oorgange wat uit volhoubaar georiënteerde innovering sisteme voortspruit.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6464