Seth Okyere, a visiting assistant professor and Emerging Faculty Fellow at the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, contributed to an article published this summer in Nature Sustainability, which publishes significant original research about sustainability, including policy dimensions and possible solutions.
“Publishing in Nature Sustainability, the highest-ranked journal in the urban sustainability and urban studies field, is a dream accomplishment and encouragement to my work, which has faced many challenges,” says Okyere.
“Advancing a slum–circular economy model for sustainability transition in cities of the Global South” was co-authored by Matthew Abunyewah, Michael Odei Erdiaw-Kwasie, Okyere, and Festival Godwin Boateng. Okyere described the experience as, “the kind of collaboration that makes you feel full yet desire more because it’s so exciting with new learnings.”
The article centers around the rise of the “circular economy”, which according to the article “is touted to have the potential to support the much-needed shift away from the current linear production and consumption economic model.” The circular economy normalizes reducing, reusing and recycling, for example. Okyere and his fellow authors highlight how the Global South has been widely overlooked in discussions on the subject. They refute the view that these regions are comprised only of “pervasive slums as enclaves of socio-environmental problems and a barrier to sustainable development.”
These researchers demonstrate that the most informal urban practices in the Global South are, in fact, aligned with these circular ways that have been widely connected to global sustainability and sustainable development paradigms. Okyere and his colleagues assert that recognition for and support of these informal circular practices is necessary to achieve sustainable urban futures.
“Oversimplification, marginalization and subjugation of the practices and knowledge of informal residents in the Global South will do more harm to achieving sustainable development goals,” says Okyere.
Okyere, who joined CAPLA in 2022, is trained in urban and development planning and, in addition to teaching, researches resilient and equitable urbanism in the urban North and South. His interdisciplinary work cuts across resilience, sustainability and social equity in the built environment. Okyere promotes mission-focused approaches to support communities and local institutions to better understand their contexts as well as utilize existing potentials, tools, and networks to build capacity and foster resilience to existing and emerging socio-spatial and environmental stressors and shocks.