Transformative Urban Coalitions: Catalysing urban partnerships to drive systemic transformation towards sustainability

Cities account for 75 percent of carbon emissions today. Achieving global emission goals requires city leadership. Rapid and radical decarbonisation, however, can only be sustainable if it is socially just. Transformations that go beyond technical solutions require holistic approaches and buy-in from diverse stakeholders and citizens. To trigger such processes in a highly urbanised region in Latin America, catalyst projects in five Urban Labs in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina will be implemented and new models of coalition building and governance tested. This process is enhanced by transformative research, tailored communication strategies and capacity building activities. The project will also utilise film and art to inspire new narratives of attractive urban futures and shift mind-sets towards sustainability. Finally, models of coalition building and governance will be scaled up to other cities and countries, and ultimately to influence global agendas for sustainability transformations.

Project data

Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
IKI funding
8,379,121.00 €
Included preparation phase
402,509.31 €
01/2021 till 12/2026
Implementing organisation
United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
Political Partner
  • Ministry for Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development (SEDATU) - Mexico
  • Ministry of Health and Social Development - Argentina
  • Ministry of Regional Development - Brazil
Implementing Partner
  • German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)
  • International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • World Resources Institute (WRI)

State of implementation/results

  • The project landing page was successfully launched (
  • Establishment of Urban Lab coalitions and kick-off meetings in all five project cities
  • In all five cities, the target areas and respective intervention ideas were decided in participatory approaches together with the Urban Labs.
  • Argentina:
    • Buenos Aires: supporting a participatory reurbanization process in Villa 20 with new ideas, connecting decarbonization with urban inequalities and climate justice
  • Brazil:
    • Recife: working on integrated solutions, projects and transformations in Bairro do Recife to address spatial, territorial and socioeconomic challenges of 350 families inside the Pilar community
    • Teresina: targeting Residencial Edgar Gayoso, a housing complex with a high socioeconomic vulnerability that lacks access to qualified amenities, services and urban spaces
    • Léon: seeking to promote a transformation that allows for an orderly, compact, resilient and vibrant city while improving air quality.
    • Naucalpan: seeking to transform the industrial area surrounding the polluted Hondo River through an urban regeneration project that addresses both climate change and inequality concerning neighboring residents
  • First demonstration activities implemented in Buenos Aires, Recife and Teresina, and underway in Leon and Naucalpan
  • Set of TUC guiding documents (guidelines for actor mapping, Political Economy-Ecology reports etc.) are being applied, further developed and serve as basis for publications
  • TUC City Profiles published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese (…)
  • Research fieldwork has been conducted in all five pilot cities and 2nd survey round concluded with 130+ respondents across pilot cities, providing data for assessing changes in social networks, mindsets and capacities in Labs, thus allowing for longitudinal studies and conclusions in and beyond cities
  • First three Frontrunner City Briefs drafted
  • First three TUC films finalized, featuring J. Rockström, K. Anderson and C. Figueres
  • Events:
    • 10/22: Presentation during Daring Cities congress in Bonn
    • 11/22: Side event with the Housing Institute IVC for the C40 Summit in Buenos Aires
    • Multiple events during UNFCCC COP27:
      • Co-host of Capacity-building Day, including 3 side events and a film night at the 4th Capacity-building Hub
      • Photo exhibition on “What does a desirable and sustainable city look like?” (…)
      • Side event on ‘Sparking change: Film and science together for desirable urban futures’ at the COP Action Hub, including the first documentary film screening from Academy Award-winning film producer Dirk Wilutzky.
      • OneUN event titled ‘No Solution for Me, Without Me: UN’s Efforts on Climate Justice through Local Action in Cities’

Latest Update:


  • Current Project
  • Previous project
  • Follow-up project
  • Topic
  • Country selection

The link has been copied to the clipboard

Related Videos

Video Thumbnail "A true paradise"

The content cannot be shown, because the marketing-cookies were denied. Click here , for accepting the cookies and show the video!

The content cannot be shown, because the marketing-cookies were denied. Click here , for accepting the cookies and show the video!

Related news


Photo competition: Visions of sustainable cities

read more

Urban futures require a disaster risk lens

read more