Increasingly, cities are considered as the appropriate loci for effectively addressing sustainable development, in particular with regards to challenging issues such as climate change. However, this does not alleviate the inherent complexity and persistence of problems of that kind. Since longer, 'transitions' and 'transition management' (TM) have been developed as frameworks to understand and where possible influence the drastic and long term changes in culture, structure and practices that are required for genuinely sustainable societies of the future. Initially, the TM approach was deployed at national levels and for sectoral policy transformations; more recently, the TM approach is being explored at regional and urban level; a specific format is the Urban Transition Labs (UTL) approach (Nevens, Frantzeskaki, Gorissen, & Loorbach, 2012; Nevens, De Weerdt, Vrancken, & Vercaemst, 2012). In this paper, we report on a UTL inspired trajectory in the city of Ghent (Flanders, Belgium). Starting from the city's ambition to become climate neutral by 2050, a process of problem structuring, envisioning, back casting and agenda building, experimenting and implementing was deployed, accompanied by an explicit harvesting of the major learnings with regards to the approach of an 'Urban Transition Lab'. In this paper, we represent such learning-by-doing and doing-by-learning of the Ghent process thus far and we reflect on the actual potential with regards to systems thinking, action agenda setting, actor engagement.

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Sustainable Cities and Society
Erasmus Centrum voor Recht en Samenleving (ECRS); Erasmus Center Law and Society

Nevens, F, & Roorda, C. (2014). A climate of change: A transition approach for climate neutrality in the city of Ghent (Belgium). Sustainable Cities and Society, 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.scs.2013.06.001