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“This was different”: The MAPS programme and southern climate change mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

“This was different”: The MAPS programme and southern climate change mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

Date: 20/11/2015
Country: South Africa
Lisa Kane, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Cape Town
Marta Torres Gunfaus, Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town
Michael Boulle, Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town

This is an Author’s Original Manuscript and will be submitted for journal publication. Please check for details of the latest version before citing
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© MAPS [2015] Disclaimer: the contents of these briefings are the responsibility of the authors, and the views expressed therein those of the author alone.
The following citation should be used for this document:
Kane, L., Torres Gunfaus, M. and Boulle, M. 2015. “This was different”: The MAPS programme and southern climate mitigation practices as
‘southern theory’. Cape Town: MAPS

Table of Contents

Introduction 2
MAPS: A brief overview 4
Southern Theory 5
MAPS: Reflections by participants 7
1. Strengths of a south-south approach to climate change mitigation 7
1.1.1. A strong methodological approach (‘technical map’) was provided and had local value and
ownership (country-level) 7
1.1.2. A culture of sharing knowledge was developed, used and instilled (at programme-level): 8
1.1.3. Facilitated conversations enabled co-design of models and scenarios (and vice versa) (at
country level) 9
2. Weaknesses and tensions in a south-south approach to climate change mitigation 9
‘MAPS as southern planning practices’ 12
Conclusions 15
References 16


2 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

With ‘INDCs’ (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) now submitted and occupying centre stage in the global
climate negotiations, attention is increasingly drawn to the global south where trajectories of future economic, energy-use
and emissions growth are breath-taking or deeply disconcerting, depending upon your perspective. In order to limit the
warming of the climate to around 2°C globally, substantial emissions reductions are required over the coming decades.
Exceeding the emissions targets is expected to cause numerous climatic impacts, including an increase in the frequency and
intensity of extreme weather events. Many commentators fear the implications of this for human well-being, especially in
the global south where resilience to hardship is reduced (IPCC, 2014). It is now clear that the global south (or south-east1
(Sidaway, 2012; Yiftachel, 2006) will be playing an increasingly pivotal role in energy, emissions and climate change debates.
In this paper we consider the work of one programme – Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios (MAPS) – which from 2010 to
2015 worked in the climate change mitigation policy making space in the south. To do so it created a partnership of five
countries – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and South Africa – with the intention of generating “credible, legitimate and
relevant knowledge in the form of scenarios through a combination of mandating, research and process” (Raubenheimer et
al, 2015, p96). This was done in order to achieve “lasting transformational impact, country ownership, long-term
understanding with deep stakeholder engagement and world-class modelling” (Kate Hampton quoted in Raubenheimer et
al., 2015, p96). The MAPS programme built on the Long Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) project of South Africa, which
had combined high quality research with stakeholder led scenario-building to formulate the long term climate policy of the
country, which formed the basis for the international climate change negotiating positions for South Africa. The LTMS
project was acknowledged by an impressed World Bank review team as “pioneering”, “a major achievement and deserving
of support and development” (Wang et al., 2008), although some queried the longer term implications of the stand-alone
project (Hallowes, 2008; Tyler & Torres Gunfaus, 2015). Accordingly, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
allocated money and support for further dissemination and development of the LTMS project. The MAPS programme was
the outworking of that intended dissemination. In practice MAPS evolved into something which the participants themselves
recognised as quite different from the north-to-south dissemination programmes with which they were familiar
(Raubenheimer et al., 2015). It is those differences, and their possible value in conceptualising ‘southern theory’ (Connell
2007, 2014, 2015a) which are the focus of this paper2

. MAPS is thus presented here as a case of an unusual, perhaps
unique, experiment in south-south climate change mitigation policy and planning work but also as a test case for the branch
of academic theory referred to as ‘southern’.
We start with some basic description of the MAPS programme’s key intentions and methodological traits. We then give a
brief review of the concepts of ‘southern theory’ circulating in the literature, with a particular emphasis on southern theory
as understood by planners (Parnell, Pieterse &Watson, 2009; Watson 2009, 2012). Throughout the paper MAPS is argued as
a form of planning, as described in broad terms (and without the traditional attachments to urban land planning) by Healey
(2011). Most of the multi-disciplinary MAPS participants would not self-identify as ‘planners’ and planning theory is not a
commonplace part of their discourse, but the funder certainly saw MAPS as “a species of planning, and [is] a form of ‘super
cooperation’ in the political economy…” (Kate Hampton, CIFF, quoted in Raubenheimer et al, 2015: 96). Then follows some
consideration of the MAPS programme itself, based on a series of reflective work which took place throughout the project
1 Yiftachel (2006) contrasts the North-West and the South-East (non-western, non-northern), which is probably more descriptive that ‘north’ and ‘south’ but
has less currency at present.
2 ‘Theory’ here refers to concepts, methodologies, intellectual framings and agendas (Connell, 2015a).


3 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

but especially towards its closure. The focus here is on the methodological aspects of MAPS which were identified by
participants as remarkable, unusual or valuable in some way. The paper then asks whether MAPS can be considered a case
of southern planning theorising at work and if it can, then what makes it so. The concluding argument is that there are
clearly aspects of MAPS which can be described as ‘southern’: the pro-active working with political instability and conflict;
the awareness given to issues of development; the contexts of constraints resources. Other matters are perhaps unique to
MAPS and have not been well explored in the southern theory literature to date: the principle of country sovereignty and
deference on the part of knowledge holders; the focus placed on highly skilled facilitation; the use of locally driven, credible
quantitative evidence as a way of persuading decision-makers and brokering conversation, amongst other things (discussed


4 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

The MAPS programme process is focused on achieving scalable change in the production of greenhouse gas emissions and
the destruction of carbon sinks. The programme is predicated on the belief that if a critical mass of decision-makers start a
process of shifting positions, and maintain that process, then ultimately at-scale change will follow. It is assumed that in
order to change, decision-makers need to be persuaded to act against prevailing norms of society or vested interests. This
takes both ‘internalised knowledge’ but also ‘value-driven motivators’, that is, a belief in the evidence produced, and a
feeling of ownership is essential. These decision-makers must also act in a way that institutionalises the shifts that they
themselves make, such that once action plans are put in place then they are resilient to subsequent changes (Boulle et al.,
2015; Raubenheimer et al, 2015).
Institutionally MAPS is hosted in a series of linked organisations. So-called ‘MAPS International’ consists of teams of
researchers mostly in the hybrid university department and applied research Energy Research Centre at the University of
Cape Town and the non-profit organisation SouthSouthNorth, also based in Cape Town. In Latin America MAPS is hosted by:
Brazil: Implicacoes Economicas e Sociales Brasil (IES-Brasil), an initiative of the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change,
mandated by the Brazilian Minister of Environment. It is implemented by Fórum Brasileiro de Mudanças Climáticas
in collaboration with the MAPS Programme.
Chile: MAPS Chile is a government driven, participatory analysis of scenarios and options for climate change
mitigation in Chile. It is an exploratory and non-binding exercise supported by a stakeholder-driven process.
Peru: Planificacion Ante el Cambio Climatico (PlanCC), is a process that involves the public sector, the private sector
and civil society in analyzing the implications and feasibility of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The PlanCC
Steering Committee is presided over by the Ministry of Environment and involves the Ministry of Economy and
Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Center for Strategic Planning.
Colombia: Estrategia Colombiana de Desarrollo Bajo en Carbono (ECDBC), is a medium and long-term development
programme led by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS), the Department of National
Planning (DNP), and the sectoral ministries of Colombia long with Universidad de los Andes”. (MAPS Projects,
In MAPS data collection, model building and scenario development which is highly credible, that is, at the forefront of its
field and embodying a high degree of confidence, was used to persuade decision makers of the need to change. To achieve
credibility the data and modelling work was developed locally by the best available researchers working in partnerships
between government, the private sector and civil society of various types, in facilitated processes. Legitimacy for the
programmes in the various countries was attained by ensuring the programme was mandated at the highest possible
political level.


5 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

‘Southern theory’ is a term coined by Connell (2007) to challenge the orthodoxy of global knowledge production. Within
this orthodoxy the knowledge institutions of the global ‘north’ are at the epicentre (or ‘metropole’) of knowledge towards
which deference is granted by ‘peripheral’ knowledge producers of the ‘south’. Book publishers, journal editors, ‘top-rated’
universities (according to metrics developed in the north) and academic funding are all orientated towards this knowledge
centre. Southern scholars, meanwhile, are fixed in a position of ‘extraversion’ toward the north, given the need to achieve
scholarly output and citations according to the metrics of northern hosted journals. This is not to say that research is not
done in the south. Indeed it is. But, argues Connell, the southern academy tends to be simply the source of data, empirical
work and case studies which are then theorised about by northern scholars and re-transmitted back to the south (Connell,
2007; Morrel & Epstein, 2012; Connell, 2015a, 2015b).
Southern theory has been described as a challenge, rather than a theory to be picked up off the shelf (Morrell and Epstein,
2012) and it offers alternative ways of thinking about a global economy of knowledge dominated by the north. Hence
‘southern theory’ is shorthand which refers to the marginalisation of southern states and related power/privilege
patternings (Morrell and Epstein, 2012). In a world where theoretical generalisation is assumed to mean universal
application, southern theory is a hybrid: a context-sensitive, situated-generalisation (Watson, 2008) or a ‘contingent
universal’ (Healey, 2011). Connell has noted the use of southern theory in education, disability, applied psychology, youth
studies, social work, management studies, development studies, criminology, geography and urban studies and planning
(Connell, 2014, p128).
Taking up Connell’s arguments in planning, Parnell and Robinson (2012) argue that a ‘theoretical recalibration’ will be
required in urban policy planning work given the increasing weight of southern urbanisation concerns being brought to the
global arena. Southern theorising may differ quite fundamentally from northern ideas, they argue, and so to use southern
empirical work or data is inadequate, rather the generating and seeking out of southern theories is required. With this in
mind they argue for the importance of localised empirical case work, localised theorisation, practice based understanding
and close attention to policy.
Watson, building on Yiftachel’s earlier work, argues that planning thinking requires ideas which are cognisant of the
‘stubborn realities’ of the south-east. These, Yiftachel argues are places where political liberalism cannot be assumed as
firmly entrenched; property systems are not stable; race, ethnicity or caste groups are deeply divided; conflict over territory
has to inform practices and economic or social disparities can result in violence. (Watson, 2012; Yiftachel, 2006). Watson
argues that co-production is one of the responses to these southern contexts. Co-production is different from participation,
lobbying or protesting, rather it is joint production of a service with the state where one or more elements of process are
shared. This definition of the south-east fits neatly with the MAPS framework within Latin America and South Africa which
built on a state mandate to proceed, and also a state-guided process, and yet which undertook research, data collection,
modelling, deliberation and scenario building with various configurations of state, university, consultancy, sector
representatives and NGO actors, depending upon the country context. Furthermore, political instability as well as divergent
interest groups were acknowledged and accommodated through careful conflict-management practiced using highly skilled
facilitator teams.


6 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

In later work Connell shifts from thinking about theory to a more explicit focus on practices. Such a shift, she argues, helps
us to think less in terms of accumulating a thing called ‘knowledge’ and more towards considering how we are called to
practice, or act, which is a moral question. Instead of the question being: what does southern theory add to what we
already know, we are then called to ask: ‘what does southern theory ask us to do that we are not doing now, as knowledge
workers?’ (Connell, 2014, p218). Most recently Connell has called for a move from the model of knowledge production,
which places northern knowledge at the apex of a pyramid where knowledge trickles down to the south; to a different
understanding which draws on a southern solidarity in knowledge production. This favours mutual learning where
difference is respected but kept in conversation. Such a knowledge model would require a fundamental shift from
deference to the north towards more south-south relationships (Connell, 2015a, 2015b). “The problem is not a deficit of
ideas from the global periphery”, argues Connell in reference to feminist thinking in particular, “it is a deficit of recognition
and circulation” (2015b, p52).


7 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’
As the five year MAPS programme drew to a close in 2015 a series of reflective projects were initiated to draw out the
lessons learnt. One of these projects was an internal, strategic assessment which attempted to capture the main features of
the programme according to those who had participated in it. Other evaluations also took place according to the funder’s
criteria but this internal strategic assessment focused on the strengths, weaknesses and tensions of the programme
according to those who had participated in its evolution. Our role was to guide this strategic internal assessment project
team. The assessment was made possible by the wish for shared learning which had been built between team members
and a high level of internal trust which had developed with regard to critique.
Observations of the programme work took place over a period of months. Individuals with some over-arching views of the
programme in South Africa and Latin America were identified and workshops and interviews held with many of them. A full
review of MAPS programme documentation took place. External reflections from two other parties in comprehensive
unpublished reports informed the process. Reflections were developed between a core team in writing and in meetings.
Graphic visualisation of the assessment process and feedback on the process took place at the two programme quarterly
meeting in 2015 in South Africa and generated much discussion. The draft internal report was circulated widely for
comment. The findings, therefore, can be described as having reached a high degree of consensus within the project team.
The following sections outline the strengths and weaknesses of the MAPS programme as identified by self-reflection by the
MAPS teams.
1. Strengths of a south-south approach to climate change mitigation
Three broad over-lapping themes relevant to this paper emerged as MAPS strengths:
1.1.1. A strong methodological approach (‘technical map’) was provided and had
local value and ownership (country-level)
The technical core of the MAPS programme was the sharing of the methodological approach that developed during the
LTMS processes. The Latin American countries appreciated the availability of this ‘amazing’ roadmap for their technical

work, and the associated setting of high quality benchmarks for data collection, modelling and assessment work. Twenty-
four international technical meetings were organised at different venues during the course of the programme, focused on

various aspects of the process and research undertakings.
The Latin American countries valued the dual focus of MAPS on the sharing of proven modelling practices, whilst remaining
open to and encouraging local reflection and innovation. There was considerable pride in the ‘open-box’ data and
modelling approach produced in MAPS, the technical scenarios developed, the mitigation actions and scenarios prepared
and the translation of these to inform the international climate change negotiations. Whilst acknowledging that the
technical work was not perfect, they also noted its rigour, robustness and its representation of best current country
practice at that time. Further, due to the process of continual and critical reflective learning in collective settings which
included a broad range of stakeholders, the work had high credibility. The process generated deep, widely shared and held
understandings of energy, land-use, emissions and related systems including social and economic implications in the
participant countries, enabling development of government capacity and materials valuable to the INDC process.


8 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

Participants appreciated the respectful way in which trust was placed in country teams to best research and understand the
specifics of their own settings. They appreciated how each country process within the programme was allowed to develop
quite uniquely and at its own national pace, but with shared broad principles (based on building legitimacy, trust and
credibility). This generated a deep sense of ownership over the outcomes of the work by the country teams. The
government mandate and governance structures which worked to keep the state involved in strategic matters generated
buy-in (Calfucoy, 2015). The country teams acknowledged the ‘country-led’ process as key to the success of the project,
enabling this buy-in and ownership. MAPS co-ordinating teams guided the sharing of information throughout the duration
of the programme, but the country knowledge and judgement was always sovereign. Queries were raised by some LAC
participants about whether this was always necessarily the right approach for MAPS to have always taken. Despite the
appreciation of the soft touch by the project leaders, there was sometimes yearning for a ‘harder’ position, and for more
direction to be given.
1.1.2. A culture of sharing knowledge was developed, used and instilled (at
Many participants mentioned the enriching and vibrant communities of practice which had been gradually developed
during MAPS as a strength – within and across countries. They talked about the generous sharing of expertise and the ‘truly
rare’ trusting and safe environments which had been produced within which robust discussions were possible. “The MAPS
sharing approach has been a HUGE strength – everyone knows that – it’s hugely powerful”, said one. Participants remarked
on how different it was to develop knowledge capacity with peer southern countries when compared with the more typical
transmission of northern expertise to the south. They spoke of a “non-prescriptive”, “enabling”, “non-colonial” culture of
“sharing” knowledge, rather than “telling” how things “should” be done. MAPS Latin American participants noted: “There
are very little [sic] South-South programmes that have worked. This is one. North-South works very differently”. “[In MAPS] there wasn’t a lead saying ‘you should do that’. Each one worked at its own pace, with its own circumstances”. “We never
heard ‘no you have to do it this way’…always very open…rather [we heard] the best approach is from your perspective”.
One project leader noted: “This is REAL capacity building”. Participants appreciated the mutual understanding amongst
partners of their shared southern context of poverty, inequity and governance capacity constraints. “Knowing developing
countries have similar problems, it’s liberating. There’s plenty to learn from each other.”
The southern countries could relate to each other’s contexts but more specifically to the problems of planning for climate
change within such settings: poor or absent quality of data, restricted capacity of research and planning institutions,
resources competing with other political agendas and differing approaches to problem solving. Some of these shared
problems were identified during MAPS and processes put in place to attempt to air them and develop intellectual capital in
the process. The DevMit Forum (Jan 2014), for example, addressed square on a tension at the heart of climate change
debates in the South: how to address development prerogatives and deal with climate change? (Tyler & du Toit, 2014).
Throughout the programme the South African and subsequent leadership teams held firm in their belief that they were not
experts, that is, they would never have sufficient country-context to be able to give advice. In return the Latin American
teams appreciated the ‘soft’ approach and reported that they did not feel anything was imposed by the programme. As a
co-initiator of MAPS wrote: “It [MAPS] was quintessentially about South–South collaboration and learning around a
complex challenge… Here the fact that the approach came from another southern country was powerful – approaches from
the North, and from country donors in the developed world, are often seen as giving help rather than learning together.
MAPS did not come with any solutions, nor tools or guidelines. It was, simply, an invitation to struggle


9 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

together” (Raubenheimer et al, 2015). The generous and flexible funding provided by the Children’s Investment Fund
Foundation which allowed substantial autonomy for the MAPS teams and was noted as an important enabler of this
innovative working. Parnell et al. (2009) have argued that cities have suffered due to aid given in the context of poorly
conceived development assumptions. MAPS highlights what can transpire in the south when a large project is guided for
the most part by southern hands.
1.1.3. Facilitated conversations enabled co-design of models and scenarios (and vice
versa) (at country level)
Those interviewed noted how innovative and even revelatory the facilitated open dialogues had been in the Latin American
countries of MAPS. In Chile the very idea of collaboration and facilitated dialogue was new. The role of professional
facilitator was taken very seriously within the MAPS programme and was a core piece of the framing methodology shared
by South Africa. The individual skill required to do this “process” work in the south was widely acknowledged. A reviewer of
the Chilean, Colombian and Peruvian processes noted how facilitation ensured an exercise of care which safeguarded
justice, alleviated conflict and enabled a constructive and creative setting for discussion (Calfucoy, 2015). The use of
facilitated open dialogues to discuss climate change scenarios developed from the modelling between many government,
business and NGO stakeholder teams was viewed in retrospect as a very powerful concept.
New communities of practice at differing scales and focused on varying interests, were clearly one outcome of MAPS. This
has enabled sharing of knowledge and expertise, mutual support and problem sharing. A working community of practice
can be a source of inspiration and comfort. Particularly in the field of climate change, communities of practice in the North
have dominated discussions. MAPS has been one of the few examples of a community of practice in the global South
making strong contributions to the global conversation (Calfucoy, 2015).
2. Weaknesses and tensions in a south-south approach to climate
change mitigation
While the sharing culture and facilitated conversations were highlighted as a strength of MAPS, ironically the most
commonly described weakness was also on the subject of communication. Communication in-between formal meetings
and between so-called ‘second-tier’ or ‘mid-level’ MAPS participants was identified as sometimes lacking. Many reasons
were identified for this including: language; time zones; distance – no ‘water cooler’ conversations; country project
specificities regarding governance matters and policy development occurring at different times which meant that countries
were out of step with one another (thus collaboration became difficult). The programme management responded to
communication difficulties in different ways. First ‘country liaisons’ were established, who would bridge thematic groups
and expertise with in country teams. These carefully chosen ‘country liaisons’ were based in the region, more available for
in-person collaboration, spoke fluent Spanish and improved coordination between the country processes and MAPS
International. They were seen very positively as ‘game changers’ and ‘fundamental’ within the MAPS process. Secondly
‘Labs’ were organized thematically with the objective to foster relationships among experts within the same field. Labs
were at times organized in Spanish, rather than having English as de-facto. Two-way translation was always arranged. The
other weaknesses identified were mostly more generic, less about the MAPS programme per se than about the context in
which such work takes place.
Some of the discussion about programme weaknesses during the MAPS observations centred on an assumption from the
beginning of the MAPS process that once policy (or laws, or regulations) are in place then these will
be enacted. Policy implementation was initially viewed as something ‘downstream’ undertaken by


10 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

other specialist actors. Excluding implementation from the early MAPS work was indicative of a step-wise and linear
understanding of policy (followed by implementation), which is a concept perhaps more suited to stable and well
institutionalised northern settings. Drawing on a northern understanding of a policy-begetting-action, the MAPS
programme had an optimistic view of the ability of evidence, decision-makers and the subsequently developed policy to
influence, even drive, action. “We assumed that mandated and relevant knowledge will produce action…[Instead] there’s
total irrational stuff that pushes against change and vested interests and developmental agendas. We need to think deeper
about theories of change…” said one. In hindsight this was an understandable error given the dearth in understanding
anywhere about how implementation of climate change mitigation policies are enacted, and particularly in southern
contexts. Case knowledge for the south is rare (Parnell & Robinson, 2012; Parnell, Pieterse & Watson, 2009).
As the MAPS processes evolved there was growing recognition that implementation should be considered during all policy
work phases. Subsequent research work focused on implementation specifically and debunked the myth of policy ‘stages’
in the South African and Latin America contexts. The final ‘Knowledge to Action’ workshop focused on implementation and
the closing conference of the MAPS programme headlined with a session on ‘how change happens’ (Trollip & Torres
Gunfaus, 2015).
This research work on implementation also concluded that South African projects which could claim some climate
mitigation impact had not been strongly motivated by climate change agendas. Rather climate benefits were coincidental
with a series of more routine concerns (Trollip & Torres Gunfaus, 2015). Carmin et al. (2012) argued that implementation of
climate change adaptation projects in the south is a form of bricolage, that is a creatively stitched together of existing
materials. Thus it is site specific and highly contingent. It would seem that mitigation acts very similarly. MAPS responded to
this, and related, matters in multiple ways by:
As mentioned earlier, creating the DevMit Forum which looked very specifically at the competing agendas of
development and climate change mitigation in the south, and related research (Jooste et al., 2014; Tyler, 2014a;
Tyler & du Toit, 2014; Winkler, Boyd, Torres Gunfaus & Raubenheimer, 2015)
Undertaking research on poverty and mitigation (Parikh, Parikh, Gohsh & Khedkar, 2013; Parnell, 2014; Rennkamp
& Wlokas 2012; Rennkamp, Moyo, Wills & Grottera 2012; Wlokas et al. 2012)
Involving those with backgrounds in sociology, politics and psychology in project teams
Undertaking research with disciplines important to but not often consulted by climate change community e.g.
consumption, marketing, poverty, economics (Tyler, 2014b; Kane, 2014)
Linking sectoral technology-based models and economic ones and undertaking a series of modelling amendments
to support cross-sectoral deliberations (Merven et al., 2014; Shukla, 2013; Winkler et al., 2014; and various ‘Briefs’
of the MAPS programme)
Developing thinking and approaches on co-benefits and multi-criteria decision-making (Cohen et al., 2015; Cohen,
Torres Gunfaus & Tyler, 2015; Rennkamp & Boulle, 2015)
Developing thought around ‘complexity’ thinking and frameworks (Tyler, 2015a, 2015b)
Researching implementation theory and empirical cases and using a workshop to share these with the broader
MAPS community (Tyler, Boyd, Coetzee & Winkler, 2011; Boyd & Coetzee, 2013; Trollip & Torres Gunfaus, 2015;
Tyler & Torres Gunfaus, 2015)
As the programme ended there was gathering realisation that the theories of change underpinning not only this
programme but also the international climate change community as a whole, are probably too
simplistic (founded on beliefs about the ability of evidence and policy alone to drive the scale of


11 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

change required). It was understood that rigorous evidence is necessary but by itself an insufficient part of policy change-
making processes of the south. The observed realities of evidence-policy-change were far more complex. In one particular

case (in Chile) implementation was successfully initiated by a key individual who shifted (with MAPS knowledge) from a
climate change role to a role in an implementing ministry (transport). Also, perhaps not coincidentally the individual
concerned had a background in the instrumental, implementation-focused engineering. The question was raised whether
such sorts of people – champions – could be a key to implementation in the south but also, the research work and
experiences of MAPS emphasise that change is not just about champions, nor evidence, coalitions or policy content, rather
it seems to happen due to the unpredictable enterprise of a number elements that coincide at a certain moment.


12 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

With all the usual caveats about the danger of drawing generalisations from a single case, this section outlines some
thoughts on the relationship of southern theory (and in particular thinking about planning in its broadest sense) to MAPS.
We take encouragement from writers on southern theory who urge that southern theorising is necessary despite the
limitations of the available materials.
The MAPS programme positioned itself as a ‘policy-informative’ rather than a ‘policy-prescriptive’ process and so its role as
‘planning’ was implied rather than overt. We have argued, though, that MAPS fits within broad definitions of ‘planning’,
although it did not fit within conventionally delineated concepts of what planning is. MAPS was a hybridised process,
neither entirely working in a rational process view (Tyler, 1998), nor in a broad ‘communicative planning theory’ (CPT)
rationality, and always attentive to politics. Some may recognise elements of communicative planning theory or the
‘practice movement’3 in the MAPS work (Watson, 2008). While there are clear similarities there are also distinctive
differences. Most importantly MAPS worked for almost all of its programme with experts, delegates and representatives of
organisations with a clear vested institutional interest in climate change outcomes. This was not a project which engaged
with general citizenry or directly with urban spatiality. Poor understanding about the outworkings of power has been a
criticism of CPT processes (Watson 2008) but by contrast the MAPS programme is highly cognisant of the machinations of
power and the omnipresent potential of powerful stakeholders derailing the process. The political mandating task was seen
as a key precursor to the MAPS programme starting, as well as a key element to maintain throughout. This insistence on
clear and high level mandates speaks to the instability of political regimes in the south and the political risks which any
project faces.
Modelling was central to the MAPS experience given that MAPS is, at its technical core, an evidence-base building exercise.
It was acknowledged from the outset that this would be key in all of the country processes. However the role played by
modelling exceeded the technical contribution to the analytical exercise. Modelling seems to have played multiple roles in
MAPS and perhaps its ultimate importance was not quite in the way initially anticipated.
Explicitly the data collection, modelling and scenario building created a platform for data gathering and so knowledge
development. This was a significant contribution, given that much of this data did not exist before the MAPS country
processes started to generate and consolidate it. MAPS also developed new tools for analysis of climate action and its
implications, which did not exist previously. It went on to create credible scenarios which raised awareness about emissions

and so climate change; allowed mitigation measures to be explored; created doubt about the desirability of ‘business-as-
usual’; investigated the socio-economic implications of mitigation scenarios and explored the opportunities of different long

term pathways for the countries. Implicitly data collection, modelling and scenario building enabled disparate people to
come together, and opened up facilitated spaces for conversations which may not otherwise have happened; it improved
the knowledge platform and skills sets of climate change mitigation practitioners, and exposed other communities to this
improved knowledge base; it built new communities of practice; forged new relationships and it provided quantified ‘grist
for the mill’ of those who would argue in favour of climate change mitigation. Counter to conventional use of modelling in,
say, transport planning, the MAPS models were not used by expert hands to dictate what should happen to a receptive

3 The practice movement in planning refers to a body of work which considers in some detail the behaviour of planners at work and their values, character and
experiences. The focus is on the planners as practitioners.


13 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

governance structure. Instead models were opened up in a collegial setting to explore what could be possible given poorly-
resourced, fragmented and under-capacitated governance structures.

The inclusivity of stakeholders on which LTMS and MAPS depended, and the framing of MAPS in Latin America to look for
‘ambitious but realistic’ scenarios generated argument, contest and debate. This was accepted as inevitable and even as
vital. “Conflict was seen as important to stress-test assumptions, agree inputs, avoid gaming and fabrication” argued one of
the programme initiators. “The role of the facilitator was hence integral to a process in which contestation was central”
(Raubenheimer, 2015: 42). Conflict was managed and peer relationships maintained through very carefully orchestrated
meetings; highly skilled, well trained facilitators and negotiators supported by an emotionally intelligent management
structure. In the strained context of resource limitations and high uncertainty that characterises the south, then highly
skilled facilitation was a pre-requisite for group buy-in to an inevitably conflicted process. But facilitation alone is
insufficient. The quantitative evidence provided a focus for discussion and also enrolled people into the process once they
could see what part ‘their’ piece played (Calfucoy, 2015).
The highly skilled facilitators who played a key role in MAPS in many ways reflected what Umemto (2001, cited in Watson
2008) argued was necessary in mediation between cultural paradigms: confronting ‘otherness’, traversing interpretive
frames, articulating values, understanding and alerting language differences, respecting protocols and social cultures,
appreciating differing power dynamics. Umemto argues that this requires significant skills. These skilled individuals in MAPS
were not planners doing facilitation as part of a broad portfolio of skills, rather, facilitation was their key skill. These were
carefully chosen professionals whose only task was to manage interactions and relationships at all times (not only when
people were in the room but also, just as importantly before and after they formally engaged with each other). The
facilitators also played key roles in conceptualising and shaping the programme.
The practices of respect for individual voices (enabled by facilitators) was paralleled by an overall respect for local country
knowledge which was one of the programme’s key over-arching principles. Local, country knowledge was judged as
sovereign. For example, the countries lacked data at the start of the project and the defacto position was to ask the ‘local
expert’ for their judgement rather than to search for data in the international literature or databases. International
benchmarks were used as references but not necessarily as appropriate aspirational values. Time was invested in building
data from scratch rather than generally using statistical simplifications. This was a highly-resourced, highly time-intensive
processes but one which ensured local credibility for the programme’s results. Accordingly, there was no problem of
‘handing-over’ a project at the end, since the project was from the outset in the stewardship of the country (although
working with knowledge of many others).
The MAPS programme highlighted that in the climate change space in particular, thinking ‘south’ is essential. In addition to
the north-south contrasts highlighted already, and of particular relevance to climate mitigation, is the understanding that
the southern future is not as predictable the northern one. Industrialised economies are relatively stable, and southern
states are not. Furthermore, the link between development and climate change mitigation is understood sequentially in the
north. ‘Development’, at least for basic needs has, for the most part been achieved. Climate change work can now proceed.
In the south a more holistic and development inclusive approach to climate change mitigation is required from the outset,
thus complexifying an already complex situation (Tyler, 2015a, 2015b). Additionally, mitigation has been on the agenda of
northern countries for 20-years now, but it is a relatively recent concern in the south. This understanding of shared position
in a global context created a common basis for collaboration among MAPS countries.


14 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

In practice then, MAPS was flexible and responsive to ‘problems’. There was high attachment to curiosity, intellectual
capital development and new ways of sorting out ideas with an acknowledgement of the uniqueness of country context,
although with shared understanding of shared, southern, concerns. MAPS demonstrated that methodologies created in the
north for climate change mitigation require further interrogation and work in order to land well in the south.
Methodologically within MAPS, little was free from question. This open-mindedness was cultivated in a culture of
conciliation and inclusivity wherever possible. All of this demanded a funding mechanism and institutional arrangement
which was enabling and progressive about outcomes.
Can, though, the conceptualising and methodological work undertaken in MAPS be considered as cases of southern theory?
We think the answer is yes, and no. Yes, theorising took place, but its main theoretical concerns were not with ‘the social’
or ‘the political’ or ‘planning’ as seems often to be the case with southern thinking thus far. MAPS, in line with Parnell and
Robinson (2012) focuses on practices, principally the practices of credible data, modelling and scenario building; legitimising
via government mandating and careful stakeholder selection and enrolling communities of practice via highly skilled
facilitation. With a focus on practices rather than theories, the concern was also with broad ethical perhaps even moral
guiding principles (respecting country sovereignty, placing the development of capacity and communities of practice very
high, developing relationships, ensuring political and research credibility as far as possible). These fed into further broad
methodological principles (political mandating, high quality quantitative scenario building and skilled facilitation) which
were held in place through investments in local people, systems and institutions. Beyond that, the call of the programme
was towards flexibility, responsiveness, creativity plus a willingness to let go of established theories if necessary and a
willingness to respond to the world as it is, in all its messy, noisy, unknowable contingency.
The risk with ‘southern theory’, or indeed any theory developed in an academic setting in reference to southern climate
change planning is that it is insufficiently bound to the materialities and urgency of southern practice. To remain in
theorising is to fall into stasis. Instead southern theorising demands action which requires a shift from ‘what’ to ‘how’.
Connell has acknowledged this, with a discernible shift in her more recent writing towards thinking in terms of practices
rather than theories. This shift shifts the research question from: ‘What does this add to what we already know?’ to a more

activist: ‘What does this ask us to do that we are not already doing as knowledge workers?’(Connell, 2014). Such an action-
orientated question seems to have driven the insistent curiosity underpinning MAPS.


15 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

Despite its clear successes and recognition, many questions remain about MAPS. A repeated one during this research was
whether a different process could have yielded more ambitious INDC targets. One argument is that the reflective MAPS
team, staying true to the foundational principle of country sovereignty, have stretched the climate change ambition as far
as possible at this time. Developing countries face loud demands for basic needs and vocal aspirations of an emergent
middle class. Climate change mitigation fights for its place in a noisy local political arena. While more ambitious country
climate change rhetoric may have been possible, the risk of this not being met would be high. The current INDC
commitments emerging from the MAPS process are politically realistic for this moment, given the in-country work across a
broad spectrum of stakeholders. The country processes have shown that more ambitious pathways are technically feasible
– but there are currently inadequate political appetites for the perceived risks of transitioning to such pathways.
This question of the MAPS programme climate effects and impacts is pressing. Climate change practitioners in MAPS often
expressed a personal sense of responsibility with respect to MAPS’s impact on emissions; a sentiment which parallels the
typical spatial planner’s concerns for social justice. This question of ‘impacts’ is also pressing in a very practical sense, as
‘what difference was made’ is a question which many potential future funders will ask. Perhaps, though, this question itself
is a ‘northern’ construct. Can causal links between programmes and effects be traced in any policy contexts, but most
especially those in the south? Or is this a fantasy with which funders reassure themselves that their money is well directed?
Should other metrics, more relevant to southern realities be driving long term planning for climate change mitigation and
associated developmental goals?
Despite the uncertainties some MAPS outcomes are clear and almost certainly of future benefit. Even if MAPS simply
provides robust primary data for future work then this is a substantial achievement. In a detailed review of work in the Latin
American countries, Calfucoy argues much further – that the capacitated people of MAPS are beneficiaries who will
undoubtedly impact on the future of their countries (2015). However, the ability of knowledgeable and well-practiced
individuals, newly formed communities of practice, new data, robust policy and well-rooted institutional arrangements
developed during MAPS to be resilient in the strong tidal flows of southern demographic, economic, political, social and
climate contexts remains, like the climate itself, highly unpredictable.


16 The MAPS programme and southern climate change
mitigation practices as ‘southern theory’

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