GREENGOV is a research project led by the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research at the Oslo Metropolitan University. The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway through the BYFORSK initative.

The project started in the fall of 2017, and will last through 2021.

The Research Council of Norway

Our main objective

Cities are currently taking the lead in pursuing goals of sustainable, low carbon urban development. The purpose of GREENGOV is to create new and cutting edge knowledge about the challenges and dilemmas public leaders face in promoting the green shift, how they cope with them, and how their coping strategies affect the outcomes of the endeavors to make cities more green and sustainable.

The project will address the following main research question:

Which leadership strategies and mechanisms can effectively support co-creation, learning and innovation in favour of the green shift?

More specifically, we are interested in how cities can build co-creation arenas and through these enhance their capacity for creating synergies between institutional layers of hierarchical, market-inspired and network measures that together make up the governance mechanisms available to political and administrative leaders when striving for sustainable low carbon transformation.

Four cities

The conventional transdisciplinary research approach is combined with ‘CityLabs’ as design experiments to investigate how different leadership interventions influence green co-creation in different contexts. Results will be based on case-studies and co-creational actions in the cities of Oslo, Gothenburg and Copenhagen.

We identify and compare their governance models for climate transformation in different governance and political settings aiming to further the green shift: within the city; in the wider metropolitan and national area; and in city-to-city relations (global networks).

Furthermore, GREENGOV will facilitate disruptive learning by weaving in examples of co-creational leadership from Cape Town; an ambitious, but dissimilar, city regarding its climate policies and activities.


We have set out two main visions for this project:

1. Contribute cutting-edge knowledge on co-creational leadership as a means to enhance capacity for governing the green shift, through transdisciplinary research and shared learning in co-creation arenas (‘CityLabs’).

2. The project will develop knowledge and policy lessons on the “Scandinavian experience” in governing the green shift at city level – comparing capacities for co-creational leadership, learning, and innovation in the cities of Oslo, Copenhagen and Gothenburg.


We interpret the ‘green shift‘ as transformation towards sustainable, low carbon cities –acknowledging that this encompasses also resilient and energy smart or low energy/energy efficient society.

The most pressing challenge for cities to this end, more so than finding adequate technological solutions, is to find new ways of governing the transformation towards climate smart, energy efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable futures. However, the conventional structures and systems of the public sector are not scoped to address the tasks of conceptualizing, mapping and responding to problems of such a high degree of complexity.

Emerging theories of co-creation in the public sector underscore the critical importance of leadership for successful co-creation. Leadership gives direction to, creates arenas for, and sponsors co-creation. The dynamic interplay between leadership on the one side, and arenas of learning and co-creation on the other, is an understudied area that the GREENGOV project will address.