PhD defence: Patience Mguni

Patience Mguni defends her PhD thesis: 

Sustainability transitions in the developing world: Exploring the potential for integrating Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems in Sub-Saharan Cities

Assessment Committee

Senior researcher (chairman) Karina Sehested, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

External members

Niki Frantzeskaki, Dutch Research Institute for Transitions and Morten Elle, Centre for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Development, AAU

Principal supervisor

Professor Marina Bergen Jensen, Department of Geosciences and Natural
Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


Associate professor Lise Herslund, Department of Geosciences and Natural
Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


With the progression of climate change, urban stormwater management infrastructure will come under pressure. There is doubt about the ability of conventional centralised stormwater management systems to adequately manage projected increases in precipitation and attention in the urban water management sector is turning towards decentralised green infrastructure-based approaches such as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS).

This PhD thesis explores the potential for sustainability transitions towards more sustainable urban water management (SUWM) through the integration of SUDS mainly from the perspective of developing world cities, most of which currently face infrastructure deficits and, to a lesser extent, from the perspective of developed cities
which are faced with ageing infrastructure and seeking infrastructure renewal options.

Results indicate that the potential for integrating SUDS and moving towards SUWM differs according to context. For developing cities with infrastructure deficits like Addis Ababa and Dar es Salaam, most opportunities for socio-technical change lie in more bottom-up emergent change as urban water management regimes may not have adequate capacity. For cities like Johannesburg and Copenhagen with more adequate capacity, change towards SUWM is most likely to be a result of endogenous transformation activities of the urban water management regime. The main
contribution of this thesis is in providing an engagement of sustainability transitions concepts with the analysis of urban water management sectors in the global South thus widening the geography of the empirical work in transition studies, as well as highlighting the applicability of approaches such as SUDS to Sub-Saharan cities.