Doctoral thesis | Sarah Deutscher

Legitimizing the Governance of urban sustainability transitions


In the face of rapidly increasing climate risks (IPCC 2018), scholars like Köhler et al. (2019) emphasize the urgency of understanding how to accelerate sustainability transitions, particularly in cities, which are recognized as crucial players in driving sustainability and addressing global challenges (Wolfram 2016). However, the governance approaches used to tackle sustainability transitions within democratic contexts have faced criticism for their lack of legitimacy (De Geus et al. 2022, Hendriks 2009). To ensure that sustainability transitions are developed in a democratic, inclusive, and equitable manner, legitimizing transformation processes becomes crucial. However, there is some tension as transformation needs to be legitimized within the very system that requires transformation. Therefore, the doctoral thesis aims to first develop a framework for legitimacy and legitimation that can be applied to urban sustainability transition governance. Afterwards, the framework will be empirically applied in a case study design.