Cities are said to be key to ensuring a future livable earth. They are the places where more than half of the world’s Green-House Gasses are emitted, while they are especially vulnerable to current and predicted climate change effects. But how are we trying to transform cities?
One answer is through Transformation Instruments. Transformation Instruments, like roadmaps, best practice projects, action weeks, sustainability awards, and others are a certain type of, what is described as “new soft forms of governance”. Often, these tools seem to be center stage in the ever more pressing fight against global warming. They are Policy Instruments that seem to be everywhere but are severely criticized, not least of all, because they defy measurement. But how are they made plausible and acceptable then? How do they actually work?
I will address these questions based on my fieldwork in Malmö (SWE), Essen (GER), Almada (PRT), Brussels (BEL), and beyond looking at how activists, local administration, the European Commission, and others use, shape, and are shaped by, Transformation Instruments.
Putting them in the spotlight instead of treating them as unpolitical and self-evident allows new insights into current future making.