The Urban Transitions Alliance is looking back on a dynamic launch and first meeting: Alliance city representatives traveled from China and the US to meet their German peers and participate in the TWINS Conference Ruhr in Essen, showcase the Alliance at the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn and set the agenda for the future work of the Alliance.

Through lively dialogue between the Alliance, striking similarities emerged despite their differences in terms of region, culture and history. Stories arose from on the ground examples such as restoring air quality from industrial impacts, polluted rivers revived for swimming, creative brownfield redevelopments and technological innovations. Still one connecting factor stood out clearly: Having faced environmental, economic and social crises, industrial legacy cities are champions in reinventing themselves and turning challenges into opportunities. The Urban Transitions Alliance will be guided by their joint vision of well-managed transitions towards a sustainable future, which centers on a healthy environment and just opportunities for their citizens.



TWINS Conference Ruhr – Cities in Climate Change

From 6 to 8 November, the Alliance cities joined fellow experts in the fields of environment, climate protection as well as urban and landscape planning at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage site in Essen, Germany. Building on the tradition of TWIN city partnerships in the Ruhr Metropolitan Area, the TWINS Conference Ruhr fostered international knowledge exchange amongst local and regional governments and climate experts on the topic of cities in Climate Change.

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Interactive workshops and site visits to climate projects across the Ruhr Area set-off thematic discussions. The cities’ joint messages from November 7 were handed over to UNFCCC representative Dhirendra Kumar, taking the TWINS outcome from Essen to the UN Climate Change Conference COP23.


Graphic Recording of the TWINS Conference Ruhr © Marie Jacobi /visualrecording.de



On 9 November, the Urban Transitions Alliance was showcased at two key events of UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn:


UNFCCC SIDE EVENT: Cities in Transition. Industrial legacy for a low-carbon future.

The Urban Transitions Alliance was represented by the European Green Capital 2017 and former coal mining city of Essen as well as the iconic “Steel City” of Pittsburgh. Joined by Huadu District of Guangzhou, the metropolitan Ruhr Region and other international organizations, they delved deeper into the debate on the challenges industrial legacy cities face and how their transition to sustainability can make them global leaders in low-carbon development    Event Flyer >   CityTalk Blog >


Transition Stories: Industrial legacy, sustainable future.

The Urban Transitions Alliance cities shared their transition stories, pressing challenges and their visions for a sustainable future. Together, their examples painted the picture of a global transition process.    Event Flyer >


Urban Transition of Buffalo, USA. Left – Buffalo 1970s Riverbend Site Republic Steel. Right – Buffalo 2000s brownfield site.



Alliance Agenda Setting

Agenda-Setting Workshop at the ICLEI World Secretariat

On 10 November, the Alliance cities and partners created synergies as they engaged in workshops that initiated the Alliance working process. Learning about each other’s environmental, economic and social conditions, the Alliance cities identified core challenges in the following fields:

Social Transition
Energy Transition
Mobility Transition
Infrastructure Transition


These focus areas will be further developed to co-create solutions on unsolved challenges and fill remaining knowledge gaps. Alliance cities will share urban development strategies, plans and projects to trade ideas and expertise that can help others.


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