Authors: Serena Coetzee & Julian Smit

Keyword: human settlement planning, spatial planning, urban design, South Africa


The National Development Plan (NDP) of South Africa describes a 2030 vision for the country. The NDP proposes an observatory as one of the measures to develop capabilities for effective spatial decision-making and implementation. This article presents results of a review of observatories with the aim to unpack the details for setting up the proposed observatory. A review of mainly South African observatories was conducted in order to clarify the focus of the observatory (i.e. its purpose and main operations) and how it should be set up (i.e. stakeholders to be involved and hosting options). The review draws on interviews, questionnaires and a workshop with stakeholders, experts and key players. A review of relevant scientific literature and observatory websites was also done. Results underline the importance of drawing on existing data collection, integration and analysis initiatives, as well as the coordinating role such an observatory will have to play.