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About Us

Active from 2016-2021, the Coalition for Urban Transitions was the leading global initiative helping national governments unlock the economic power of inclusive, zero-carbon cities.

Active from 2016 to 2021, we aimed to drive a shift away from business-as-usual by empowering national governments with the evidence-based rationale and policy tools they need to prioritise more compact, connected, clean urban development. In this way, the initiative helped catalyse and inform implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda, and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

While many organisations share the overarching goal of supporting the decarbonisation of cities around the world, our work filled a critical gap by bringing national government decision-makers into the process.

National leaders – including ministers of finance, transport, energy and urban development – hold many of the powers and levers that directly or indirectly affect cities. However, few recognise this dynamic: only around two in five countries globally have a national urban policy, and even fewer have embedded urban policy within their core economic development strategy or have sufficient capacity for implementation. Our work showed national decision-makers that smart urban policy is central to achieving national economic, social, and environmental goals.

Between 2016 and 2021, the Coalition built a rigorous evidence base to support the strong economic case for smarter urbanisation. We equipped policy-makers with the evidence they needed to make better informed decisions on large scale urban planning and infrastructure investment. And we helped them take the first steps toward establishing the policy, financing, and governance mechanisms necessary for thriving cities and prosperous countries.

A special initiative of the New Climate Economy (NCE), the Coalition for Urban Transitions was jointly managed by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and World Resources Institute Ross Center. A partnership of 37 diverse stakeholders across five continents drove the Coalition, including leading urban-focused institutions and their practice leaders from major think-tanks, research institutions, city networks, international organisations, major investors, infrastructure providers, and strategic advisory companies.

Theory of change

Our impact model built on seminal evidence that achieving lasting policy change and reform requires securing commitment from top decision-makers combined with coalition, consensus, capacity building, and evidence-based learning.

Our vision was thriving cities empowered and enabled by national government. We helped deliver this by:

  • Generating robust, ground-breaking evidence to fill critical knowledge gaps on how to manage national urban transitions.
  • Placing this evidence in the hands of national economic decision-makers in a way that demonstrates the central importance of cities for sustainable and inclusive development, and equips them with the knowledge and tools to act; thereby
  • Driving national policy change and enhanced infrastructure investment towards more compact, connected, clean urban development.


Who supported us

We are grateful for the support from our funders, who provided the Coalition with the resources needed to deliver our vision for compact, connected and clean cities. Our work was generously funded by the UK Government’s Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for International Development (DFID), through collaborations with partner organisations and a small number of private voluntary donations.

Our flagship global report – Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity – was funded by UK aid from the UK government; the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany; Ministry of the Environment, Sweden; and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.