Research Report – Municipalities in Transition

Collaboration between local governments and community-led initiatives can be considered a wicked problem. Municipalities in Transition is a grassroots policy innovation that looks for synergies by using systems thinking and finding innovative ways to govern transformative change.

This work explores the possibilities of promoting synergies between local governments and community-led initiatives in their transformative efforts. A new framework is proposed that can foster local partnerships for sustainable development. Explorative research was used to define a Compass for Transformative Collaboration, learn from existent experiments and finally codesign the framework. This included assessing quantitatively and qualitatively 71 cases of local or regional collaborations happening in 16 countries in America and Europe.
The innovative framework for local transformative collaborations is based on systems thinking and has a relational vision, being embedded in theories of adaptive governance and arenas of development. It allows to map and measure collective transformative action and it is expected to bring institutional and cultural change by providing a ‘learning arena’. Its simplicity makes it usable in all sort of contexts, enabling conditions for systemic change arising from this new shared meaning of transformation and a rationale for taking collective decisions. The development of local coalitions supported by mutual principles is expected to lead to a new culture of collaboration.
The framework was grounded in learnings born out of a collaboration on energy and climate issues between the Transition Movement, a Municipalities Association and Research partners in Italy. New efforts are being developed to test and refine this systemic instrument for local reflexive governance and explore possible ways to integrate it within global action on sustainability.

Downloadable pdf version: MiT_research_report