Considering the role of urban types in coproduced policy guidance for sustainability transitions

  • July 2020
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Multiple

Tabory, S. & A. Ramaswami (2020). Considering the role of urban types in coproduced policy guidance for sustainability transitions. Urban Transformations, 2, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42854-020-00013-x

ABSTRACT: The imperative to massively and quickly scale sustainability transitions in urban areas globally stands in tension with the sustained commitments required of grounded coproduction efforts that seek to deliver locally credible, relevant, and legitimate pathways for place-specific transitions. Is it possible to develop policy guidance that meets the magnitude of the urban transitions challenge while still leveraging the benefits of coproduction? We suggest that coproducing urban transitions guidance around relevant types of cities, as compared to specific individual cities, offers a potential pathway for scaling the impact of such guidance. However, little work has been done to explicitly interrogate how concepts of credibility, relevance and legitimacy are implicated by relying on urban types in coproduction processes. In this frontiers discussion, we describe what greater emphasis on the use of types and proxies in urban transitions coproduction might entail. Elaborating the concept of ‘coproduction-by-proxy’, we articulate six key premises and draw on two real-world instances of science-policy dialogue to illustrate its operative features. This frontiers discussion aims to supply more structured language for framing debate about whether, and how best, to strategically construct and deploy urban types in coproduction processes for developing urban transitions guidance, with an emphasis on maximizing generalization and impact, while maintaining both technical and political credibility. The discussion argues that exploring the role (and limits) of urban types and proxies in coproduction processes is a key frontier for the iterative science and practice of urban transitions, with implications for advancing both overall urban systems knowledge and place-specific sustainability transitions.

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