Governance and Policy for Sustainability, GAPS

A comparative review of challenges and transition pathways

What do different policies for sustainable urban development look like in different countries? How do different stakeholders and communities influence policy formulation? This project will study this in Gothenburg, Cape Town and Greater Manchester and is the first comparative project between Mistra Urban Futures' Local Interaction Platforms.

By looking at polices and governance, the project maps what challenges cities are facing, what solutions are used and how policies can be more effective through the inclusion of local and other forms of knowledge. The work is coordinated by the Urban Futures Arena and the project has four key aims which represent the distinctive approach of Mistra Urban Futures: bringing together the ’what’ of knowledge with the ’how’ of formulating and implementing urban policies for sustainable futures:

  • To provide improved understandings of the relationship between governance and sustainable urban development policies in cities.
  • To understand how particular knowledge’s of different stakeholders and communities influence policy formulation.
  • To identify more effective forms of policy formulation through the inclusion of varying types of knowledge from different community groups and academic disciplines and finally
  • To produce a framework for understanding how the challenges of Sustainable urban development are shaped in different contexts and what steps cities can take to enhance the effectiveness of policy-making and implementation


Hodson, M., & Marvin, S. (2017). Intensifying or transforming sustainable cities? Fragmented logics of urban environmentalism. Local Environment, 22(sup1), 8–22. doi:10.1080/13549839.2017.1306498
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Greyling, S., Patel, Z., & Davison, A. (2017). Urban sustainability disjunctures in Cape Town: learning the city from the inside and out. Local Environment, 22(sup1), 52–65. doi:10.1080/13549839.2016.1223621
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
May, T., & Perry, B. (2017). Knowledge for just urban sustainability. Local Environment, 22(sup1), 23–35. doi:10.1080/13549839.2016.1233527
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Tahvilzadeh, N., Montin, S., & Cullberg, M. (2017). Functions of sustainability: exploring what urban sustainability policy discourse “does” in the Gothenburg Metropolitan Area. Local Environment, 22(sup1), 66–85. doi:10.1080/13549839.2017.1320538
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Tahvilzadeh, N. (2015). Understanding participatory governance arrangements in urban politics: idealist and cynical perspectives on the politics of citizen dialogues in Göteborg, Sweden. Urban Research & Practice, 1–17. doi:10.1080/17535069.2015.1050210
Type: Scientific article (peer-reviewed)


  • Utmaningar och hållbarhetspolitik i Kapstaden, Manchester och Göteborg
  • Mistra Urban Futures International Pilot Project Cape Town Phase 1 Output: Baseline Report
  • Green Cities: Position paper
  • A Baseline Survey on Governance, Policies and Knowledge of Urban Sustainability in the Kisumu Local interaction Platform
  • CTLIP Governance and Policy for Sustainability Report: Stakeholder Analysis

Project members

  • Tim May

    Tim May is Professor in the Methods Institute, University of Sheffield and International Methodological Advisor to the Sheffiled-Manchester Platform, having been involved in Mistra Urban Futures from its beginnings. 

    Tim has written and edited sixteen books; edited an international book series, special journal editions and over 180 articles, chapters, reports and policy briefings.

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  • Simon Marvin

    Professor Simon Marvin works as a researcher at the Durham University, Department of Geography, U.K.

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Zarina Patel

Zarina Patel is director of the Mistra Urban Futures platform in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a researcher at the University of Cape Town, ACC African Centre for Cities.

Gordon Pirie

Professor Gordon Pirie is the Deputy Director of ACC, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town. 

Mike Hodson

Mike Hodson is a research fellow at the Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester, U.K. he was formerly a part of the SURF-team, University of Salford. 

Beth Perry

Professor Beth Perry is the Director of the Sheffield Manchester Local Interaction Platform for Mistra Urban Futures.

Stig Montin

Professor Stig Montin works at the Institution of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg.

Mikael Cullberg

Mikael Cullberg, Head of County Governor´s office, The County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland

Nazem Tahvilzadeh

Nazem Tahvilzadeh arbetar vid Institutionen för samhällsplanerings och miljö, Avdelningen för urbana och regionala studier, KTH.