Cities in a post-covid world - HSRC Seminar


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Online seminar

15 April 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has had far-reaching effects on urban lives and livelihoods. Some of these are likely to prove temporary as the vaccine is rolled out and the recovery gathers momentum. However, there are bound to be more profound changes too, depending on the shape and speed of the recovery. In the future, will dense economic nodes and large cities struggle to compete against outlying centres and more dispersed urban regions? Will digital technologies reinforce many of the existing urban divides? Or can opportunities be created to rethink and reinvent our cities to be more inclusive and productive? In short, how will the urban landscape be altered in the period ahead?

In this webinar, world renowned economic geographer Michael Storper discusses the impact the pandemic and its economic, fiscal, social and political fallout on metropolitan areas. His paper, co-authored with Richard Florida and Andrés Rodriguez-Pose, analyses the effects of Covid-19 on countries at the intra- and inter-regional geographic scales. They look at four main forces: the social scarring caused by the pandemic; the lockdown as a forced experiment; the need to secure the urban built environment against future risks; and changes in the urban form and system. At the macro scale, they argue that Covid-19 is unlikely to alter the winner-takes-all economic geography and spatial inequalities of the global city system. At the micro scale, however, they suggest that it may bring about a series of short-term and some longer-running changes in the structure and morphology of cities, suburbs, and metropolitan regions. The extent of these changes will depend on the severity and duration of the pandemic.

After the talk two prominent South African urbanists, Mr Kuben Naidoo and Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina, offer reflections and implications for South Africa.


Distinguished Professor of Regional and International Development at UCLA, Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics, and Professor of Economic Sociology at Sciences Po in Paris.


Kuben Naidoo, Deputy Governor, South African Reserve Bank

Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina, Wits University


Prof Ivan Turok, SARCHI Chair in City-Region Economies at UFS and HSRC

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