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Developing transformative capacity through systematic assessments and visualization of urban climate transitions

Glaas, Erik, Hjerpe, Mattias, Storbjörk, Sofie, Neset, Tina-Simone, Bohman, Anna, Muthumanickam, Prithiviraj, Johansson, Jimmy
Ambio 2019 v.48 no.5 pp. 515-528
cities, climate, decision making, governance, local government
Transforming cities into low-carbon, resilient, and sustainable places will require action encompassing most segments of society. However, local governments struggle to overview and assess all ongoing climate activities in a city, constraining well-informed decision-making and transformative capacity. This paper proposes and tests an assessment framework developed to visualize the implementation of urban climate transition (UCT). Integrating key transition activities and process progression, the framework was applied to three Swedish cities. Climate coordinators and municipal councillors evaluated the visual UCT representations. Results indicate that their understanding of UCT actions and implementation bottlenecks became clearer, making transition more governable. To facilitate UCT, involving external actors and shifting priorities between areas were found to be key. The visual UCT representations improved system awareness and memory, building local transformative capacity. The study recommends systematic assessment and visualization of process progression as a promising method to facilitate UCT governance, but potentially also broader sustainability transitions.