How can I apply?

What is the timeline of the process from Open Call until the Online People Choice Award?

  • Open Call open until 15th March 2022 at 11:59pm CET (GMT+1)
  • Evaluation of all Open Calls until March 2022
  • Finalist announced in May 2022 + grouping journalists with initiatives
  • Journalist work on stories of finalists between June and August 2022
  • Launch of Online Voting for People’s Choice Award September 2022, lasting 1 month
  • Online Award Finale December 2022

When is the deadline?

Please apply by 15th March 2022 at 11:59pm CET (GMT+1).

Who can apply?

This initiative is open to collectives not individuals. A collective can have the form of a social movement with recognizable structures and goals – even without a formal legal recognition, a legally existing civil society organization, a citizen’s platform seeking to gain institutional power at municipal and/or city level via a political candidacy, an established city council/local government, or other forms of collective action that center their practices in a specific location that is not generally recognized as a region, state or similar delimitation and scopes.

We encourage applicants to showcase a particularly successful local initiative that is part of their broader work. For example, a local hub that is part of a broader network, whose successful story has become a source of inspiration for others and is being replicated elsewhere.

Under which categories can I apply?

The fourth edition of the award (2021–2022) will look at the same four issues as the third edition: Energy, Water, Housing and Food. You can also indicate that your initiative apply to several issues simultaneously under the same application.

Why should I apply?

By participating in this award, you will amplify your local efforts into a global one, and will help others understand what is effective in challenging and transforming the unjust status quo. The world needs inspiring stories, and you might have one that triggers transformation practices in other regions and places. To facilitate this, we have developed a consistent strategy to bring visibility to the Award’s applicants.

Being featured in the Atlas of Utopias, or being one of the finalists or winners, not only will help others to learn from your struggles and successes, but will also strengthen the visibility of your own practice too, locally and internationally.

Do you provide assistance filling in the application form?

We understand that for those challenging corporate power, authoritarian regimes, environmental degradation, inequality and injustice in all its forms, it is hard to allocate time to sit down and reflect on your political practices. If you have limited capacity to fill in the application form, we have some capacity to assist you in the process. With this support we hope to help those the frontlines with a lot to share, but not much available time. To ask for this support, please do contact us and we will assess your request.

Who is behind the award?

The Transformative Cities initiative is launched by a group of regional and international organizations (in alphabetical order): European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability (Ecolise), Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS), Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C) and the Transnational Institute (TNI). In collaboration with the UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights (UCLG-CSIPDHR).

What is the process after applying?

Transformative Cities: The Atlas of Utopias

If you are eligible, your experience will be analyzed based on the information provided in your application form, alongside other candidates, by expert evaluators in different fields to draw out both the strengths and potential of your collective work. At least 4 different evaluators will revise each application form in a peer-reviewed process.

Three key experiences for each issue (i.e. Water/Energy/Housing/Food Systems) will be chosen for public promotion as we want to share the most inspiring stories with the wider public, adding up to 12 stories in total.

As a finalist of the fourth edition your story will be included in the Atlas of Utopias, an inspiring mosaic of real transformative utopias. To have a sense of the Atlas, please check out the Atlas of Utopias here.

Telling your story

The three finalists for each issue (i.e. Water/Energy/Housing/Food Systems) will be put in contact with a local journalist commissioned by the Transformative Cities Initiative to get their full story, to dig deep and pull out the inspiration, colours, dynamics and people behind your collective action. This will help you to tell your story to others, which can both strengthen your cause and inspire others to follow your example.

Have a look at the media impact of previous editions.

Popular engagement

To engage the public, the top twelve stories will be voted on during a 4 week period by a growing global, translocal community. Although the popular vote will technically identify a series of ‘winners’ that receive the “Transformative Cities People’s Choice Award”, our goal is not to create competition between different political practices, but rather to put a spotlight on transformative practices and encourage their spread internationally.

To support the outreach work for the vote, each of the 12 finalists will receive 300 euro to support their own local campaign.

The Transformative Cities People’s Choice Award Finale

To close the Award Cycle, the Transformative Cities partners will host an online event in December 2022. During this unique event we will announce which initiatives received more popular support and who will receive the Transformative Cities 2022 People’s Choice Award.

Ongoing mutual learning

The Transformative Cities Initiative is not just focused on the award, but wants to build a network that allows participants to learn from each other. One of those opportunities for mutual learning could be the  Transformative Cities People’s Choice Award Finale organised by TNI and its partners.

We use this occasion to organise a peer-learning process in collaboration with local collectives and organisations.

All results and lessons will be published under a Creative Commons license. You can see how this looked like during the first edition in the Laura Flanders Show episode about Transformative Cities.

What do I win when receiving the award?

The Transformative People’s Choice Award will award 1500 Euro to each winner. Furthermore, finalist will receive 300 euro to promote their campaign during the period of online voting. Besides that, the People’s Choice Award is a possibility to give visibility and strength to your experience, facilitating its replicability and scalability.

Our experience from previous editions is that the Award is an excellent way to bring attention for the applicants to reach new audiences. Furthermore, by participating you will get in contact with transformative experiences from all over the world and participants in mutual learning processes, either physically or online.

What is the selection criteria?

These are the key elements of a Transformative Practice:

  • Equity and participation
  • Capacity to inspire collective action
  • Impact
  • Transferability and replicability
  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Solidarity and Public ethos
  • Democratic participation
  • Ecological and just transitions
  • Sustainability and efficiency
  • Fairness of labour conditions and the recognition of care and domestic work

Can I still apply if I already applied for the first, second or third edition?

Yes. If you did apply and did not get the Peoples Choice Award we encourage you to apply again, probably your initiative has grown stronger and you have more inspiration to share.

If you are not sure about your eligibility, please do contact us.

Is it just for “cities”?

The concept of “city” is a highly contested one, scientifically or politically. For the purpose of the award, we define cities in very broad terms as “locations for place-based struggles for basic rights.” We understand that cities have certain strategic advantages to advance social, environmental and gender justice – in terms of combining critical masses of people as well as potential for more accountable governance. This will encompass transformative practices happening in urban and rural areas and in areas that could be described as both.

We are deeply aware that struggles in cities cannot be separated from the rural, as the whole political economy of cities is deeply dependent on processes of production and extraction from rural areas. These interconnections must be better understood and analysed if we are to see how transformative these practices really are. Transformation must be local, national and global, but we also believe that transformative efforts within ‘cities’ are increasingly reflecting these interconnections within their very work and we hope to reflect that in this initiative.

We encourage applicants that want to showcase a particularly successful local initiative part of their broader work. For example a local hub that is part of a broader network, whose successful story has become a source of inspiration and is being transferred elsewhere.

Isn’t problematic to compare initiatives from the global south and the global north in an award?

We acknowledge the existing differences between the Global South and the Global North. However we believe that is possible, and politically relevant, to compare them appropriately.

Access to water, energy, housing or food is as important in the Global South as in the Global North, these are basic human rights. We also witness similar trends worldwide when it comes to limited access to basic human rights, such as global warming, privatisation of natural resources, and dysfunctional formal political systems.

We are interested on understanding how collectives around the world regardless of their location are ensuring access to these basic rights. How to implement successful public initiatives and policies in different local contexts remains one of the biggest challenges of the transferability of best local practices. The frame of access to basic human rights overcomes some of these difficulties.

We find it important to create a frame where initiatives and collectives from countries depicted as “underdeveloped,” are treated on an equal basis with initiatives and collectives implemented in “developed” counties. That way, collectives that are regularly depicted as in need of assistance from the “rich and developed” world show their invaluable capacity, imagination, ingenuity and commitment to address some of the problems we face globally.

Do I need to have a legal form to apply?

No, however you need to be a collective with recognizable structures in place and set goals. That usually means to have at least a well-functioning website and a number of examples of your collective actions. If you have doubts please contact us.

My question has not been answered here. What now?

Please ask your question(s) by contacting us here: