Spatial Transformation Seminars

From the international dimension humanity is bound together and has a connected and common future. To strive for this and to place in the values needed for a sustainable future most countries have reached consensus on the planning instruments needed for a connected sustainable future. These instruments are about “good planning”, integration and realising the Sustainable Development Goals.

From a planning perspective the New Urban Agenda and the International Guidelines-Territorial Urban Development adopted by all countries in the UN is a big win for planners as internationally accepted norms and standards are set. This had elevated the role and importance of planners. Planners can now plan and implement processes knowing that urban development is backed up and has credibility through the country’s commitments to a connected and common future envisaged for the globe.

Notwithstanding these agreements and the consensus that rapid urbanisation requires better planning - planning for integration, there are major forces that impact on the future from the political, labour and capital perspectives. The effect of this has been a smaller insider group reaps the benefits of planning and a growing outsider group is outside the cocoon of the benefits of planning.

seminarsThe Global Context

Democracy is waxing and waning, technology has shifted the balance of forces and political discontent is on the rise. At the same time in the multi-polar world the arms race has continued, the battle for resources continues in new forms and with new players, and market led forces determine outcomes through their control on finances and investments. Nation states have adopted an approach to becoming “homelands” in response to terrorism and the economic flux globally. First world stable nation states have contended with migration, responded to threats with increased security and citizens all over the world have become increasingly intolerant.

The economic mode of production in the 21th century is in flux with the challenges of climate change and 4th industrial revolution. The inability to absorb labour and retain markets has led to increased unemployment globally and is more accurate where political intolerance, unethical practices and inequalities are evident. Economic growth has been jobless, and inequalities have widened with an ever-growing pool of jobless and displaced poor people. Emerging economies especially those that have been subjected to structural adjustment find themselves in better positions to harness economic opportunities but are unable to manage the urban form in towns and cities.

So, while the global community has a connected future creating a sustainable future requires a lot more planning, a lot more attention to the details of integration and urban management. Political will to create a sustainable future by building resilient urban forms with the appropriate resources is needed.

There is a new approach to Africa having a connected and combined economic future, but extraction continues and, beneficiation is limited. This means that trade in intellectual property is also stunted. Markets and capital appear to be leading property development, which again excludes the poor. Investments in countries and cities have been based on the whims and fancies of global power groups whether is it the Middle East, China, India or Russia. In this context the developmental state has been weakened and has lost the cutting edge of leading development and ensuring the inclusion of the poor to basic human rights to live a life of dignity.

The South African Context

South Africa is a microcosm of the global picture. Inequality, jobless growth, a low skills base and fiscal constraints affects the economy. While poor and inadequate service delivery and delivery failures on basic services and infrastructure speaks to the inability of state institutions to provide public goods and services. This is highlighted in the state capture, corruption and protests by communities. The flight of skills and migration into urban centres affects the local economy and impacts on the institutional capability to deliver supplies of basic services. Water scarcity, desertification and drought conditions affects a large portion of South Africa. The unabating crime, social ills of drug abuse and gender-based violence are some of major threats impacting on society.

There are policy instruments in place in South Africa which are more advanced than most countries. There are planning legislative instruments, regulations and a myriad of planning tools in place. It is possible to plan a sustainable future in South Africa, if the requisite skills and resources are allocated to developing the urban character and form. The IDP developed by local municipalities collates the needs of communities and is meant to be an integrated plan while the NDP as a national plan and vision influences strategies being developed or implemented by all spheres of government. In terms of land use management there is SPLUMA, in terms of strategic planning there are the Spatial Development Frameworks from local to national, there is the IUDF, but is the state leading this process coherently? Is there consistency to reshape the form of localities with integrated approaches to planning?  Do these processes allow for the budget allocations and resources for the spatial form to be adjusted and influenced?

Planning is not neutral - it is a political process. It is shaped by events and activities brought about by political leaders. Planners can and must use the instruments and tools to shape the decisions to make economic and spatial transformation happen.

South Africa has not transformed the spatial form from apartheid plans to a post-apartheid future. State capture, limited resources and an ever-growing list of priorities hamper the efforts to co-ordinate and build a process of spatially targeted delivery. Formal Planning in the sense of implementing instruments is playing catch up with people-centred development, linked to land and development leading to informality in settlements and economic activity, and at the same time, development is being led by market forces which is determining where development takes place be it for resource extraction or for high end living or for commercial purposes without the state playing a decisive role on spatial and economic transformation.

SAPI has a role to play as the voice of planners. With this as a backdrop SAPI has planned a series of Seminars on Spatial Transformation for 2019.

SAPI partners for the series of seminars are SACPLAN, SALGA, COGTA and Spatial Planning in the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform.

Participants in the seminars will earn CPD points recognised by SACPLAN.

Objectives of Spatial Transformation Seminars:

1.      To highlight the need for spatial transformation and reinforce the role of planners and the importance of planning.

2.      To present the national, provincial and local spatial priorities in one view

3.      To discuss a project that could make spatial transformation a reality

4.      To have a discussion on integration and alignment

5.      To present practical steps on how to deal with difficult situations - the first steps to take on land matters & the spatial transformation barometer.

Location: 10 cities in South Africa




12 July 2019


26 July 2019


16 August 2019


30 August 2019

Port Elizabeth

12 September 2019

East London

13 September 2019


27 September 2019


4 October 2019

Cape Town

25 October 2019


22 November 2019

Spatial Transformation Seminar Programme



8:00 to 8:30

Registration and networking

8:30 to 9:00

Opening and Welcome

9:00 to 11:00

Panel 1 – Planning, Integration and Alignment: NSDF, Provincial Priorities and the Locality

11:00 to 11:15

Tea & coffee break

11:15 to 13:15

Panel 2 – Making Spatial Transformation a Reality

13:15 to 14:00

Lunch Break

14:00 to 16:00

Panel 3 – Practical Considerations on Implementing and Evaluating Planning: The First Steps to take on Land and the Spatial Transformation Barometer

16:00 to 16:30

Closure and networking

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