Envisioning alternatives in pre-structured urban sustainability transformations: Too late to change the future?
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2022

In the governance of urban sustainability transformations, participatory futures practices are increasingly popular. Yet there is a rising awareness that the success or failure of these practices depends on how they are staged and the context in which they are conducted. These contextual factors are often less than ideal, and futures practices take place at the crossroads of many pre-determined agendas and priorities. We distinguish four factors that shape the effects of participatory futures practices: 1) how the institutional landscape constrains or enables a project aimed at urban sustainability transformations; 2) the participatory culture surrounding the project; 3) the project design; and 4) the futures methods applied. We assess these factors in three cities within the European H2020 IRIS Smart Cities project. In each city, project members participated in sessions where they designed citizen engagement using a futures methodology: the novel Scope and Ladder models. Each city reflects a different combination of the four contextual factors. We find that space for exploration and re-imagining can be found and optimized under imperfect conditions. Drawing on the results of the three cases, we conclude with a set of recommendations for the funders, project members and futures organizers of urban sustainability transformation projects.




Sustainability transformations

Urban governance

Citizen engagement


Astrid C. Mangnus

Universiteit Utrecht

Joost M. Vervoort

Universiteit Utrecht

University of Oxford

Willem Jan Renger

Stichting Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU)

Valentina Nakic

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Environmental Systems Analysis

Karin T. Rebel

Universiteit Utrecht

Peter P.J. Driessen

Universiteit Utrecht

Maarten Hajer

Universiteit Utrecht


0264-2751 (ISSN)

Vol. 120 103466

Integrated and Replicable Solutions for Co-Creation in Sustainable Cities (IRIS)

Europeiska kommissionen (EU) (EC/H2020/774199), 2017-10-01 -- 2022-09-30.







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