Urban transformative capacity: From concept to practice

Marc Wolfram, Sara Borgström, Megan Farrelly

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialOtherpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Urban transformations form a central challenge for enabling global pathways towards sustainability and resilience. However, it remains unclear what kind of capacity is needed to deliver urban change that is actually transformative. Against a backdrop of current claims and efforts to achieve urban transformations, this special issue reviews the relational concept of urban transformative capacity and how it can inform novel approaches in research, policy, and practice. Drawing on seven papers analyzing diverse empirical contexts, we identify four requirements that should guide future action: (1) foster inclusion and empowerment as prerequisites, (2) close the intermediation gap and strengthen the role of local academia, (3) challenge and reinvent urban planning as a key arena, and (4) enhance reflexivity through novel self-assessment techniques. Overall, current levels of urban transformative capacity are assessed as very low, making its development a high-priority objective for all stakeholders, but for planning and research policy in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-448
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Cities
  • Co-production
  • Multi-level governance
  • Sustainability transition
  • Transformative capacity
  • Urban transformation

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