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Knowledge category: Tools and methods

Designing participatory transformative processes for just and climate-neutral cities. Methodological Guidelines for Transition Management

Updated on 28.02.2024

This guide supports policy workers in (European) cities who want to design a transformative and participatory process for realising just and climate-neutral cities.

Author: Tessa de Geus (DRIFT), Giorgia Silvestri (DRIFT), Julia Wittmayer (DRIFT)
Year of update: 2022

More information

Based on a three-year research project with six European cities (TOMORROW), this guide has been developed to address issues encountered in the practice of urban transitions: from redesigning municipal institutions to creating legitimacy for radicality and shaping co-creation, to developing sustainability policies, trade agreements, or memoranda.

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

This resource offers many valuable and practical tools, frameworks, and checklists which can be used in mapping, designing, and implementing CSS. Together with its accompanying workbook, this resource helps cities and regions with the mapping of their circular transition landscape, as well as tracking the multitude of stakeholders, system-level interventions, goals, outcomes, outputs, and activities. These frameworks and tools are substantiated with real-life examples from European cities which have implemented these tools for their circular solutions. The resource also offers tools for checking the input, throughput and output legitimacy of the CSS creation and implementation processes with reflective questions.

How to use this tool or method

The guide describes processes of governing urban transitions along the metaphor of tending to a garden: starting with Understanding the Conditions (Step 1), then Planting the Seeds (Step 2), Nurturing Growth (Step 3) and finally Harvesting Results and Continuing the Cycle (Step 4). Each chapter starts with ‘the basics’ – a recap of what transition management activities need to be conducted as part of that step. It then proposes ‘deep dives’ – themes that have surfaced in practice that require particular care and attention. These issues concern identifying the radical core, developing transition legitimacy, co-creating knowledge with diverse actors, and setting up governance arrangements. Applying the steps requires flexibility, open-mindedness and the willingness to go back and forth between them.


This guide has been designed in parallel with the TOMORROW Workbook Vol. I and Vol. II, which provide hands-on exercises to put the steps into practice. It is a sequel to the Guidance Manual ‘Transition Management in the Urban Context’ (2016), available here:

Type of tool or method
Territories involved

large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000

large metropolitan area >1.5 million, metropolitan area 1.5 million-500 000

predominantly urban regions, intermediate and predominantly rural regions, refer to TERCET typology NUTS 3 region