Member Spotlights: Paul Currie

Sustainable Urban Systems

I would describe myself as a systems thinker - I am intrigued by the different types of relationships that we have with people, nature and infrastructures, and the complex layerings of cause, effect and feedback that drive our systems. I completed an Ecology undergraduate in Stony Brook, New York, a Sustainable Development Masters in Stellenbosch, South Africa and am currently undertaking a PhD in urban metabolism with the urban Modelling and Metabolism Research Team (uMAMA) in Stellenbosch. I currently work for ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, helping local governments across Africa think about and implement sustainability policies and initiatives. 


Position: Senior Professional Officer: Urban Systems

Institution: ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability

Degrees: MPhil Sustainable Development.

 Paul’s main research interest areas: 

  • Exploring urban metabolisms of African cities
  • Informing governance of the urban food, water, energy nexus
  • Developing rapid urban metabolism assessment tools for local government action
  • Unpacking social implications and feedbacks in resource flow dynamics
  • Contributing to reshaping smart city discourse in African contexts

Paul’s  favorite cities and why:

Lagos - the city moves! and doesn't! - you can buy anything on the street (wall atlases, paint brushes, groceries, airtime) Jodhpur - beautiful blue houses around narrow alleyways with citizens on the streets Barcelona - Gaudi owns this town - the impact of beautiful public art and design is evident throughout Johannesburg - something is happening in this CBD - industrial neon chic, bringing together social housing, good design, public space and commercial opportunities to reshape a divided city Antananarivo - if ever there were a city with which to contemplate approaching sustainability in a complex environment! New York - 9 years of walking, buses, subways, and cycles and I can still name every stop on the 1 train - the daily grind and abundant cultural distractions make me miss this city a lot

Paul’s thought on collaboration:

I would be interested in collaborating on projects which:

  • creatively express how infrastructure systems support everyday life (as public engagement tools)
  • produce images of African urban realities from within African contexts
  • contribute to industrial-political-ecology approaches and theory
  • explore nexus relationships between resource services