Topic 6a Innovation levers


New EU network to support urban transformative capacity

The European Commission plans to co-fund a new initiative that fosters implementation of the NUA and the EU urban agenda. The focus will be on enhancing transformative capacity through coordinated research and innovation activities. First calls may be expected for 2021.

Special issue forthcoming

We are finalizing a special issue on the transformative turn in planning, including outcomes of the 2018 session in Messina (see summary). Follow the updates of the journal Urban Transformations.

Urban topics revised

The ISDRS urban theme features 4 revised topics: 6a now focuses on what triggers transformative urban and regional change - innovation levers. Are you working on mechanisms, initiatives, approaches, techniques or tools that can reshape development pathways? Get involved!

Next Conference: Track 6a

We invite contributions from researchers and practitioners working on transformative action for urban and regional sustainability!

Keywords: Leverage points; Transformative capacity; Experiments; Transition Management; Adaptive governance; Design thinking; Social innovation; Local innovation systems; Living Labs; Transition Towns; Grassroots innovation; Biophilic urbanism; Nature-based solutions; Urban tinkering; Tactical urbanism; DIY urbanism;

Please check the detailed call information on track 6a for the 2020 Budapest Conference “Sustainability in Transforming Society”.



Most related UN-SDGs

Past Conference

  • Nanjing, China 2019

Our session discussed inspiring contributions on diverse leverage points that can trigger wider systemic urban and regional change for sustainability, ranging from environmental conservation to artistic action, urban design and everyday practices. The cases all addressed critical and multi-scalar sustainability challenges that human settlements are confronted with today, identifying how human agency and new forms of collaboration can make a decisive difference. See our summary here.

  • Messina , Italy, 2018
  • We discussed the tension field between current mainstream planning on the one hand, and pressing requirements for achieving transformative change on the other: How does research address the relation between planning and transformation? How does planning practice affect sustainability transformations? How could future transformative planning research/practice look like? See our summary here. 

Knowledge Resources

State of the Art: 
This topic group focuses on approaches, initiatives, techniques and tools aiming at holistic innovations (i.e. social, ecological, technological) for urban and/or regional transformation. We are interested in exploring diverse innovation levers such as Transition Management, Urban Living Labs, BiophilicUrbanism or Sharing Cities, among others. Our agenda is to discuss who and what can bring about deep and accelerated change in the cultures, structures and practices that shape today’s unsustainable dynamics of human habitat, and how exactly this can happen.

Recommended Sources:

  • A good overview of current research on urban system innovation is offered in this review paper
  • Informed Cities is an initiative run by ICLEI Europe providing insights and network opportunities for transformative action
  • The Transformative Cities platform gathers inspiring practice examples and other useful resources.


    Routledge & Earthscans' Sustainability Hub

    Who are we?

    Prof. Marc Wolfram

    Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Dresden

    Prof.. Liling Huang

    National Taiwan University, Taipei

    LinkedIn Discussions in our Topic group 6a

    Recent discourses on the ISDRS LinkedIn discussion group:

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