This week in Cape Town, the resilience of Africa’s cities to climate change is a key topic at the African Centre for Cities International Urban Conference. Over the last few years, cities around the world have responded to climate change and disaster risk with increasing interest and ambition. To build resilient futures this governance should be, among other things, autonomous, accountable and flexible. However, realizing these ideals is challenging.

Other political challenges are less recognized. Ahead of the conference, here are three of these less talked about challenges for urban governance, drawing on a recent ODI Working Paper:

  1. Party politics
    Central governments have been known to deliberately undermine the power and autonomy of municipalities represented by the opposition or set them up for failure by giving them responsibility they cannot fulfill the resources and capacity provided.
  2. Transboundary risk across difficult borders
    Climate and disaster risks are not neatly confined to national borders: countries share coastlines and water resources, while environmental damage in one country can impact its neighbors.
  3. National realities
    Hard-to-shift national realities can limit the degree to which cities can enjoy the potential benefits of decentralized governance.

Read the full article about three challenges of urban governance by Amy Kirvyshire at Overseas Development Institute.