Municipalities in Transition

From EcoliseWiki

Municipalities in Transition is a project initiated by key organisations in the Transition movement, that seeks to promote and support collaboration between Transition groups and municipalities. Activities include documenting and assessing experiences of effective collaborations in several countries, co-designing an agreed framework, testing and refining in six pilots, establishing a community of practice and reaching out to decision makers.

Project Activities

Launched in early 2017, the project will initially run until the beginning of 2019. Transition Network in partnership with the network of Transition Hubs initiated the project in 2017. Its main aim is to create a clear framework for how Transition groups and municipalities can create sustainable change together, combining community engagement, reach and resources. A participatory action research approach was set in place from the outset. The project is financed by the KR Foundation (Denmark). Research is conducted with support from the University of Lisbon (climate change research group) and DRIFT (The Dutch Research Institute for Transitions).

The main activities already implemented or in progress are:

  • Mapping existing experiences – an on-line survey was released in July 2017 and 71 answers were received until the beginning of October 2017, from 16 countries in Europe and America (this was called phase 1);
  • A framework screening was used and 8 cases were selected for an in-depth study through observation and semi-structured interviews to main stakeholders (phase 2 - implemented in November and December 2017);
  • One of the cases was chosen as a model for the framework to be tested, namely the Italian Energy Function – it is based in a grid of actors (municipality, organizations…) and actions (planning, networking, culture change…) used to provide a clearer, more systemic view of the “playing field” of transition happening in the community and a connection for a database of tools that can boost this process; the MiT framework was under design until the end of February 2018;
  • Other cases were selected as “tools” with transformative potential and were subject to further research (phase 3);
  • Six cases were preselected from the initial 71 as promising pilots and they were evaluated through interviews (January 2018) and finally the following cases were selected to test the framework:
    • Ecobairro in Sao Paulo, Brazil
    • Kispest in Budapest, Hungary
    • La Garrotxa region in Catalunya, Spain
    • Santorso and Valsamoggia, Italy
    • Telheiras in Lisbon, Portugal (Viver Telheiras and Telheiras' Parish)
    • An international training was held in Italy with representatives from both municipalities and civil society (13th - 16th of March 2018)
    • A Community of practice was created in May 2018

The pilots will be active from March 2018 to December 2018. Results will be shared from the beginning of 2019.

Mapping Experiences

  • description of methodology and findings
  • list of identified cases

Selection of Pilots

  • selection process and criteria
  • links to pilot projects
  • findings and outcomes

Framework Development and Testing

The framework developed is comparable to a cooperative game: a grid is used with columns corresponding to different local actors and rows to categories of actions (e.g. using new technologies or fostering relations). The first step in this “board game” is to set out the main transformative initiatives already happening in the community, providing a baseline. The game unfolds by using joint efforts to occupy new “squares”, some of which are considered to be leverage points (therefore providing extra “points”). From each house players can get access to “cards” presenting a diversity of tools and guidelines on how to use them. The rules of the game also include a governance model.

A systemic approach is in the core of the methodology initially developed in Italy: Transition principles are imbedded in the collective performance of local institutions, therefore changing the rules of the system and leading to institutional and cultural change. This methodology is believed to be powerful enough to cope with high levels of complexity and uncertainty and simultaneously simple and flexible enough to be relatively easy to learn and to use in “real life”

Community of Practice