Caroline Skinner

Director, Urban Research

“We need a series of alternative imaginaries so that politicians, policy makers, and urban professionals can aspire to something that is uniquely southern and not to European or US models.” (in Grasp Magazine)


Urban employment, urban informal economy, urban planning and design, policy analysis and critique, urban advocacy

For over 15 years, Caroline’s research has interrogated the nature of the informal economy with a view to informing advocacy and policy processes.  In 2009, she became WIEGO’s Urban Policies Program Director.  A central focus has been managing the research component of the WIEGO-led Inclusive Cities project, a consortium of membership-based organizations of the working poor that aims to ensure that urban informal workers have the tools necessary to make themselves heard within urban planning processes. The research has included monitoring of global trends in the informal economy in general and in 10 developing cities in particular, interrogation of national labour force statistics and analysis and documentation of organizing and policy practice that has led to secure livelihoods.

As WIEGO’s publication director, Caroline has also overseen the commissioning and publication of nearly 100 publications, perhaps the most comprehensive collection of work on the informal economy to date.

Caroline also serves as a Senior Researcher at the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and is involved in two University of Cape Town Research projects: Urban Informality and Migrant Entrepreneurs in Southern African Cities and the Informal Sector Working Group of the Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth project based in the Economics Department. Previously, she was a Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the School of Development Studies.

She has been involved in policy and advocacy work at a local, provincial, national and international level. In South Africa, where she resides, she assisted the Durban City Council in developing an informal economy policy, worked with the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, and advised a number of national government departments, including the Presidency and Department of Trade and Industry. Internationally, she has written policy papers for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank.

In the News

2015 Forget the Myths About Foreigners

2015Talk Shop - National Public Radio

2014 The Informal Sector Deserves a Legal Boost

2014 Otherwise – National Public Radio

2014 We Need to Start Respecting the Informal Workers

2012 It’s Time to Welcome the Informal Workforce to the Urban Policy Table