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eThekwini’s green and ecological infrastructure policy landscape: research paradigms, theories and epistocrats

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The purpose of this paper is to indicate how dominant research paradigms, social theories, and an epistocracy influence the governance of green and ecological infrastructures within a South African local government context. Paradigms and theories play an important constituting role that (local) government actors and institutions actively and subconsciously promote within the green and ecological infrastructure policy landscape. Research conducted by the author indicates that epistemic actors within the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa, use paradigms and theories to promote green and ecological infrastructures, as materialities, coupled with climate change adaptation and mitigation and water governance and security aspirations. I conclude that an epistocracy is active in the municipality and that it promotes the development and implementation of the infrastructure types through a positivist paradigm and accompanied theories. In this article, I will report on a two-year study that investigated eThekwini’s green and ecological infrastructure policy landscape.

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  1. I would like to thank one of the anonymous reviewers for this idea.

  2. At the time of my research in 2018, Gumede as the Vice President of C40, a global network of the world’s mega-cities that is closely linked to matters pertaining to climate change. C40’s mandate is to support cities to collaborate, share knowledge and drive action on climate change (C40, 2020).

  3. In May 2021, Gumede agreed to step down in accordance with the ANC's 'step-aside resolution'. This means that she could not act in any ANC leadership position but could remain in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature after her ousting from the municipality (Harper, 2021; Kotzé, 2021).


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Meissner, R. eThekwini’s green and ecological infrastructure policy landscape: research paradigms, theories and epistocrats. Int Environ Agreements 22, 543–560 (2022).

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