Transformative Urban Coalitions

The Transformative Urban Coalitions project seeks to change structures and values by shifting mindsets and building new coalitions for socially inclusive, zero-carbon cities. Photo: Daniel Lozano Valdés/Unsplash

Cities account for 75% of global carbon emissions. At the same time, cities are deeply affected by the climate crisis. Extreme heat events, water stress, deterioration of natural assets and air pollution are lowering quality of life and putting severe stress on infrastructure. There are no quick fixes. Solutions like alternative construction techniques and better public transport are steps in the right direction, but if designed as siloed technocratic processes, they will fail to create lasting change or reach many people.

To build more sustainable futures, cities need to reconfigure their deeper social, technological and political systems that are currently reinforcing high-carbon, resource-intensive urbanization. Such a process requires holistic visions for desirable urban futures for all actors, from urban inhabitants to city governments to investors. Decarbonization, social justice and quality of life must be interwoven and at the center of urban transformation and this is the starting point for the Transformative Urban Coalitions project.

The Transformative Urban Coalitions project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety under its International Climate Initiative (IKI), seeks to change structures and values by shifting mindsets of urban citizens and decision-makers, and by building new urban coalitions to implement strategies that lead to socially inclusive, zero-carbon cities.

WRI, the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) will work closely with local partners to establish new models of coalition-building and governance through five “Urban Labs” in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

This process will be enhanced by transformative research, tailored communication strategies and capacity-building activities. The project will also utilize film and art to inspire new narratives of attractive urban futures and shift mindsets towards sustainability.

Finally, models of coalition-building and governance will be scaled up to other cities and countries, ultimately to influence global agendas for sustainability transformations.

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