Seminar: The SDGs in South Africa: why transitions are always the hardest part

This talk, by Dr Alexis Schäffler-Thomson, reflects on South Africa’s first phase of voluntary reporting for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Alexis is a consultant at the advisory firm Pegasys, which was part of the voluntary national review (VNR) process led by Statistics South Africa in preparation for the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum 2019, held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council in July. South Africa’s VNR reporting process consisted of several government-led data collection efforts for the SDGs, building on the country’s Millennium Development Goals reporting initiative. 

While representing a proactive stance towards data and country reporting, South Africa’s SDG transition reveals the challenges of developing new, integrated reporting platforms whilst ensuring domestic relevance. Using South Africa’s experience in reporting on SDGs 6 (water and sanitation), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land), the talk shows that this transition depends as much on developing reporting capacity as on the nature of partnerships and stakeholder clarity in the next reporting cycle.

About the speaker
Dr Alexis Schäffler-Thomson is a consultant and urban sustainability specialist. Her work focuses on public sector sustainability strategies within the context of infrastructure, planning and value systems. Prior to joining Pegasys, Alexis led green infrastructure and green economy initiatives in Gauteng, where she was a trusted policy advisor to local and provincial governments. She is also a published author and academic in the sustainability sector. Alexis received her PhD in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds a Masters in Sustainable Development, Planning and Management from the Sustainability Institute at Stellenbosch University.

This seminar is hosted collaboratively by the African Centre for Cities, the African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research and the Poverty & Inequality Initiative, all located at the University of Cape Town. ACC researcher Dr. Sylvia Croese will open the seminar with an introduction and update to the voluntary SDG reporting processes.

Date and time:

Wed, 21 Aug 2019 -
12:30 to 15:00

School of Economics Seminar Room, Level 4, New School of Economics Building, Middle Campus

Contact Information: 

A light lunch will be served prior to the seminar, at 12:30.

For catering purposes, please RSVP to by noon, Monday, 19 August 2019.