Building Sustainability Implementation Capacity in City Staff and Leadership (CapaCities)

Project description

In 2016 KIT has become founding member of the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO), a global network that advances solutions to sustainability problems through research, development and capacity building by generating, testing, implementing and, ultimately, bringing to scale a wide range of solutions including technologies, policies, economic incentives, social change and cultural practices. GCSO includes diverse global partners who can transform ideas into action. The consortium builds capacity through education and transfers evidence-based solutions to implementers, with the goal to achieve sustainability outcomes on multiple continents. GCSO’s success is measured by evidence-based, positive outcomes and impacts on sustainability issues worldwide.

From 2017 on ITAS engages in the transdisciplinary and international collaboration project “Building Sustainability Implementation Capacity in City Staff and Leadership (CapaCities)” that addresses the large variation (between pioneering cities and follower cities) in the capacity of city staff and leadership to create, implement, evaluate, and adapt plans, programs, projects, and policies that deliver sustainability outcomes locally and globally.

By providing training opportunities and facilitating joint learning for staff and leadership in select cities across the globe (based on established practices), this GCSO project helps advance the sustainability of regional economies, communities, and environments, while also creating a context-sensitive typology of best practices for all cities to make progress towards sustainability. It uses established practices for building inter-departmental sustainability implementation capacity in city leadership and staff, based on a flexible concept of competencies-oriented sustainability education.

Practices are tested through expanded applications, and their transferability and scalability are explored. The aspired pathway of impact is that these capacity-development efforts lead to changes in city decision- and policy-making, eventually traceable in real-world changes toward sustainability. The specific objectives are (1) increase inter-departmental sustainability implementation capacity in city staff and leadership; (2) advance sustainability in the participating cities; (3) increase sustainability implementation capacity in graduate students; (4) develop a context-sensitive typology of good practices in building sustainability implementation capacity, (5) submit a proposal to obtain further funding for scaling efforts.

Across all case study locations baseline assessments and goal setting processes are coordinated, based on a pragmatic agreed-upon evaluation framework. Two main activities constitute the core of the project: testing developed or established models in case studies in the partnering cities, and then synthesizing insights across the case studies to develop an empirically informed typology of good practices for building inter-departmental sustainability implementation capacity in cities.

KIT’s specific contribution consists in developing transdisciplinary sustainability planning, including interactive sustainability city walks.


Dr. Andreas Seebacher
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-23978