Contextual factors for transnational municipal network's local environmental action: a study of ICLEI Africa's LAB Wetlands SA Programme

Katharina Rochell, Linjun Xie, Ryan Fisher, Kirsty Griffin

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


While the existence and significance of transnational municipal networks (TMNs) in the realm of environmental governance have been well documented, the implementation and impacts of their local programmes, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, remain underexplored. This paper contributes to addressing this gap of knowledge by examining what obstructs or facilitates TMNs’ local actions and the extent to which they can catalyse wider transformative impacts on local environmental governance. We focus on an urban wetlands programme implemented by ICLEI Africa from 2015 to 2018 in 9 district and 2 metropolitan municipalities in South Africa–the Local Action for Biodiversity: Wetlands SA (LAB Wetlands SA) Programme. From an insider perspective, this paper reviews the implementation of the LAB Wetlands SA Programme in three locations, namely the Overberg, iLembe, and Frances Baard District Municipalities of South Africa. Based on comparative analysis, the paper identifies three key influential factors–political buy-in, policy champions and institutional capacity–that interact in combination to affect the practices of the LAB Wetlands SA Programme. These three factors are closely interlinked and strongly depend on the social, economic, political and cultural aspects of local context. In advancing local environmental actions and promoting transformative environmental governance, the design and practices of TMNs’ local programmes and projects must be informed by, tailored to, and able to adapt to the local context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-899
Number of pages18
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number7
Early online date28 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished Online - 28 Feb 2022


  • South Africa
  • Transnational municipal networks
  • local environmental actions
  • transformation
  • urban wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Contextual factors for transnational municipal network's local environmental action: a study of ICLEI Africa's LAB Wetlands SA Programme'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this