A ten-years knowledge and research programme 2010–2019

Mistra Urban Futures was formed in 2010 as a centre for knowledge and research on sustainable urban development. The centre brought together academics, professionals and other stakeholders for ten years to co-produce new knowledge and contributions towards urban transitions to more sustainable paths for development.

In 2019, at the end of the 10-year funding programme, the Centre had made significant contributions to the global urban development by a large a number of local and comparative studies, projects and interventions. The whole became more than the sum of the parts.

This site will be updated with remaining publications and possible other things  in 2020, and then the site will be used as an archive for the Centre without any more updates. This is not likely to happen before June 2020, and will be communicated through our social media channels.

Towards Realising Just Cities

Rapid urbanisation, globalisation and the complexity of cities demand transformative solutions and new paths towards sustainability and more just cities. Climate change and other challenges in urban areas such as poverty, social segregation, unsustainable lifestyles and urban sprawl are complex and at times even conflicting, engaging a variety of actors, decision-making levels, disciplines and sectors. Responses and solutions need to be found through cooperation and collaboration.

The Mistra Urban Futures approach was to bring different actors together, from research and practice, from society and citizens, to co-create knowledge and understanding that promote sustainable urban futures. Hence, Mistra Urban Futures provided an arena for addressing questions and urban challenges, sometimes called "wicked issues", no single actor can manage alone.

At Mistra Urban Futures many different competences and disciplines met. People from a wide range of research fields and expertise work participated: from business, sociology, political science, architecture, biology, physical resource theory, law, human ecology, engineering sciences to design.

Co-production is a holistic approach, starting from the very conception of individual projects and continuing through project design and research, to implementation of results, including communication and publications of findings. Co-production is about learning. It is not a single method, rather a methodological ethos that can be implemented in different ways. It is a means to an end – tackling complex challenges.

A manual for co-production of knowledge is being finalised and will be available for free download.

Recent publications

In addition to the more project-specific publications, recently several books, book chapters and articles reflecting on the way the Centre works have been published. See suggestions below.

Comparative Urban Research from Theory to Practice – Co-Production for Sustainability
Highlighting important methodological epxeriences from across a variety of diverse contexts in Africa and Europe, this book surveys key experiences and summarises lessons learned from Mistra Urban Futures' global research platforms. Available for Open Access free download.
Simon, D., Palmer, H. and Riise, J. (eds) (2020) Comparative Urban Research from Theory to Practice – Co-Production for Sustainability. Policy Press, UK.

Organising for Co-Production: Local Interaction Platforms for Urban Sustainability
This article suggests that local interaction platforms (LIPs) as developed within Mistra Urban Futures are innovative responses to the challenges of bridging between different types of knowledge and stakeholders.
Perry, B., Patel, Z., Bretzer, Y. N., & Polk, M. (2018). Organising for Co-Production: Local Interaction Platforms for Urban Sustainability. Politics and Governance, 6(1), 189. doi:10.17645/pag.v6i1.1228

Realising Just Cities. Forthcoming book by Leonie Jouberg and others, will be available for download from African Centre for Cities

Craft metrics: how to value co-production
Comment in Nature, co-authored by Mistra Urban Futures Platform Director in Sheffield/Manchester, Prof Beth Perry
Durose, C., Richardson, L., & Perry, B. (2018). Craft metrics to value co-production. Nature, 562(7725), 32–33.

The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research
The article surveys the lessons learnt and challenges faced by  Mistra Urban Futures and its research platforms in Sweden, the UK, South Africa and Kenya in developing and deploying different forms of transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge.
Simon, D., Palmer, H., Riise, J., Smit, W., & Valencia, S. (2018). The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research. Environment and Urbanization, 095624781878717. doi:10.1177/0956247818787177


The Mistra Urban Futures organisation was made up of several local interaction platforms around the world: Cape Town, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Sheffield-Manchester, Kisumu, and - since 2016 - also Malmö/Lund as a centre for the Skåne region. Shimla and Buenos Aires are  partners for the Implementation of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda project.

Mistra Urban Futures has been governed by an international Board of directors and a consortium of Gothenburg-based public institutions, two universities and a research institute. The centre was hosted by Chalmers University of Technology, which is also one of the consortium partners. Since early 2019, Mistra Urban Futures has been integrated as a unit of the  Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development, GMV.

As of January 2020, the Gothenburg Platform has been re-organised as the Centre for Sustainable Urban Futures, or just Urban Futures, within Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development (see website).