City-regions as sites of sustainability transitions have remained under-explored so far. With our comparative analysis of five diverse European city-regions, we offer new insights on contemporary sustainability transitions at the urban level. In a similar vein, the pre-development and the take-off phase of sustainability transitions have been studied in depth while the acceleration phase remains a research gap. We address this research gap by exploring how transitions can move beyond the seeding of alternative experiments and the activation of civil society initiatives. This raises the question of what commonalities and differences can be found between urban sustainability transitions. In our explorative study, we employ a newly developed framework of the acceleration mechanisms of sustainability transitions. We offer new insights on the multi-phase model of sustainability transitions. Our findings illustrate that there are no clear demarcations between the phases of transitions. From the perspective of city-regions, we rather found dynamics of acceleration, deceleration, and stagnation to unfold in parallel. We observed several transitions-transitions towards both sustainability and un-sustainability-to co-evolve. This suggests that the politics of persistence-the inertia and path dependencies of un-sustainability-should be considered in the study of urban sustainability transitions.

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Sustainability (Switzerland)
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT)

Ehnert, F. (Franziska), Frantzeskaki, N., Barnes, J. (Jake), Borgström, S. (Sara), Gorissen, L. (Leen), Kern, F. (Florian), … Egermann, M. (Markus). (2018). The acceleration of urban sustainability transitions. Sustainability (Switzerland), 10(3). doi:10.3390/su10030612