Topic 2: Reconsidering urban mobility systems: towards system innovation and proximity policies for sustainable city regions

Challenge Description

The urban mobility system is complex system: Commuters cross municipal boundaries several times daily where local jurisdiction shifts, people often change modes of transport, many levels of governance are involved in regulation, funding and the offer of transport services. In the context of strong population growth in suburban areas, a systemic and dynamic understanding of the urban mobility system is needed, including an analysis of the role of the different actors and level of government involved (e.g. core cities, sub-urban neighbourhoods, peripheral centres, regional level), and the importance of strategic partnerships, considering that city administrations are not always the core decisional level, especially for transport across city boundaries. This topic encourages unravelling the complexity of the mobility system in cities, functional urban areas and city-regions and elaborating cross-sectoral and multi-scalar perspectives on the urban mobility system, in connection to the 15-minute City concept.



Proposals submitted to this topic are invited to develop and apply innovative approaches to conceptualise and tackle system innovation for urban mobility and proximity of functions. Such a perspective views mobility in cities as a manifested result of strategies, actions and resources invested by all urban actors and sectors, and thus acknowledges the need for a systemic position beyond the city limits and the mobility sector, including fostering partnerships and identifying relevant underlying dynamics and root causes of contemporary challenges at hand. Analysis can start from an examination of which kind of systems can be legitimately sustainable (in its three dimensions: social, ecological, economical sustainability) and how those systems can replace existing ones. Building further, proposals are encouraged to elaborate on concepts, policies and instruments to assess, manage and monitor urban mobility from a systems perspective, connect mobility and logistic planning better, and create efforts to support implementation.

Therefore, the topic sets out to conceptualise policies in order to implement underlying vision of the 15-minute City, reaching beyond city limits, and calls for concepts apt to operationalise the goals and principles of the concept on the scale of metropolitan areas. For mobility and transport policy this can entail, on the one hand, assessing and elaborating approaches to transport-oriented development and creating (poly-)centrality. On the other, measures will be needed for a more flexible system, adapted towards individual needs, and on-demand services, thus aligning the local neighbourhood level to (sub-)centres and the city-region. Proposals are invited to take on a multi-level perspective as well as to conceptualise and lay out innovations in procedures, policies and regulation, when it comes to building partnerships and alliances between levels of governance, municipalities and sectors. The knowledge created should connect to existing planning instruments, e.g. SUMPs7 and SULPs8.


Project proposals submitted under this topic should address one or several of the following issues:

  • How can frameworks of system innovation, which lay out transformation processes of existing systems towards sustainability in all three dimensions, be elaborated further to support policy implemention?


  • Which approaches can be employed to bridge the gap between theoretical frameworks advocating for holistic urban mobility planning and practical implementation?


  • What are ways to connect urban mobility planning more effectively with goals and policies of transport of goods and other sectors (e.g. energy, urban greening etc.), highlighting synergies and trade-offs between them, and pointing out pathways to achieving better integration?


  • How may policies toward the 15-minute City (and similar fields) be scoped and operationalised in planning tools, governance procedures, and stakeholder collaborations that align neighbourhood-oriented developments with city and city-regional levels, thus tackling urban mobility issues in perspective on the city as a system?


Expected Outputs and Outcomes

Rather than provide isolated technical solutions, projects are expected to address this topic in a systemic way. Project outcomes should be impact-oriented and process-oriented, and therefore as concrete and user-centred as possible. Expected outcomes include, but are not limited to:

  • Development and application of conceptual frameworks to analyse and better understand urban mobility systems at the metropolitan level


  • Strategies and instruments to assess, manage and monitor urban mobility from a systems perspective


  • Lessons learnt from ambitious pilots and successful practices that demonstrate alternative development paths and planning approaches to steer city-regions towards sustainable (mobility) goals


  • Analysis and results intended for transfer of existing approaches and embedded learnings on mobility strategies on level of a city-region and polycentric cities.


  • Innovative approaches and solution for improving services to better adapt to individual needs


  • Elaboration of innovative governance structures, institutional arrangements and regulatory mechanisms to enhance coordinating and alignment efforts between levels of governance, SUMP and SULPs and further stakeholders