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Viable Cities Transition Lab

Transition Lab is Viable City's strategic initiative and aims to co-create a common ability to meet major societal challenges such as climate and environmental transition.

The Transition Lab is a tool to accelerate and spread change. This means we work to bring about transformative systemic change and take bold steps to reshape our social institutions towards an equitable and circular economy, develop responsible and disruptive new technologies, and change behaviors for a more sustainable society.

The Transition Lab is a set of interconnected events, tools and methods - developed by researchers to achieve the mission - that share some basic ingredients:

  • Transition Labs are processes with an overall feel, not just a collection of events.
  • We work together with people from academia, public organisations, industry and civil society. The transition requires the engagement of a diversity of people and organizations (a combination of multi-level and 4-helix approach).
  • The Transition Lab is designed together with the cities based on their common interests.
  • We put emphasis on creating an enabling collaborative context. Of course, logistics and details are important but they are only a means, not an end.
  • The Transition Lab balances between specific technical topics and inspiring content.

Viable Cities Transition Lab a central platform for creating a mission infrastructure in Sweden and supporting continuous and coherent processes for innovation, co-creation and learning for climate transition in broad collaboration. It is an organizational backbone for the work during phase 2 and the overall strategic project. It is the engine of the work to create methods and support for accelerating the climate transition of cities based on the needs identified in the cities in Climate City Contract 2030, with support from research. A key purpose of the Transition Lab is to create reflexive learning between cities and other relevant actors and build their transition capacity, both in terms of governance and management, citizen involvement, systematic innovation work and new models for financial analysis and risk assessment.


Transition Lab events

Transition Lab Forum

The Transition Lab Forum is a two-day event aimed at delving into specific topics and creating a sense of community. Transition Lab Forum Live is the open and live-streamed part of the event that lasts for two hours, deepening and broadening the knowledge of the conference theme.

City Lab

City Lab is a one and a half hour digital event dedicated to immersion in a specific topic. The event is built around a specific format that promotes in-depth knowledge and lectures with discussions and workshops.

Climate breakfast

The Climate Breakfast is a one-hour workshop oriented to promote interaction between officials, stakeholders and researchers. The format is short and relaxed with guests providing knowledge and practical inspiration, and the opportunity to reflect on the topic with other participants.

More information

The Viable Cities Transition Lab is about exploring and shaping the theory and methodology of change and building distributed knowledge and skills as a basis for action to bring about deep change. We need to get beyond dealing with symptoms and rather focus on underlying problems in our societal structure (deeply encoded problems) that have led us to the challenges we face.

The key elements of learning are

  • how individual initiatives are implemented,
  • which interventions are most effective in driving the transition in the desired direction,
  • how values and other underlying factors influence the decisions made by different actors.
  • how to actively develop a portfolio of interventions that collectively lead to the achievement of the mission.

The objectives of the Viable Cities Transition Lab are based on the principles of mission-driven innovation and have been formulated as follows:

  • Clarifying common direction
  • Clarify the mission for mobilization
  • Create engaging visions and stories
  • Building a common language for change
  • Exploiting synergies
  • Creating a movement for climate change
  • Facilitate the orchestration of relevant initiatives in Sweden
  • Demonstrate how a holistic, systemic approach brings benefits in several areas at the same time.
  • Renewing decision-making and policy
  • Strengthening evidence-based decision-making for impacts
  • Demonstrate new forms of policy development in practice
  • Renewing policy development with a focus on desired outcomes
  • Building capacity for change and new practices
  • Drive institutional learning and actively support key influencers.

The Viable Cities Transition Lab establishes structure that facilitates coordination and synergies between a portfolio of interventions to achieve the best possible impact together.


Viable Cities sees climate change as a symptom of structural problems in the economy and social systems. The scale of the challenges that we face as a civilization will mean that many governments will make significant investments in the transition (so-called Transitional Capital, e.g. Green Deal for Europe). Within Viable Cities, we intend to use our budget as a catalyst to build societal, political and operational capacity to invest capital in the best possible way to create climate-neutral cities by 2030 with a good life for all within the boundaries of the planet. To preserve and develop our democracy, this transition needs to be a co-creative process.

Since 2018, the initiatives in Viable Cities are based on a mission-oriented approach where key initiatives are Climate City Contract 2030, mission infrastructure for coordination and support, system demonstrators for experimentation and implementation, and the Transition Lab for orchestration and reflexive learning.


The Transition Lab approach is also used by the Viable Cities sibling program in Spain citiES2030. Here you can find a text about it (in English) and a toolbox of their experiences (in Spanish). In addition, the Transition Lab methodology will be developed and disseminated in the framework of the EU Cities Mission in which Viable Cities participates; Net Zero Cities and Capacities.