Learning how to orchestrate systems change
“There is a huge weight of expectation on the Cities Mission and the climate neutrality goal that cities have committed to. The Pilot Cities and their partners are stepping into a space which requires them to be vulnerable and collaborate on the basis of not knowing exactly what the way forward is. It takes a lot of courage to do that.” says Will Wade, NetZeroCities Pilot Cities Programme Orchestrator.
Different learning activities punctuate the two-year journey of Pilot Cities, intended to enable them to generate real-time insights as they go through the Programme and ultimately make their experiences scalable and replicable to others in pursuit of sustainable urban development.
Like the first cohort of 53 Pilot Cities selected in early 2023, the new 26 Pilot Cities will undergo an initial bootcamp, an intensive exploration and learning programme with expert input from NetZeroCities to build knowledge, capacities and trust. This will be followed by a round of collective sensemaking sessions. Site visits, peer learning, and a twinning programme constitute additional components of the learning process for cities involved.
This emphasis on learning caters to the complex nature of systems change. There are no predetermined solutions, so cities will need to learn how to navigate complex ecosystems to introduce systemic changes and successfully move towards a sustainable future.
“The urgency of achieving climate-neutrality, and the inherent difficulty in doing so, means that traditional methods of monitoring and evaluation carried out at the end of a project are ill-suited to the rapid innovation required. For this reason, the emphasis has been placed on consistent learning and reflecting throughout the Programme so cities can learn, react and continuously adapt their plans,” says Nikhil Chaudhary, Strategic Learning Lead in NetZeroCities.