This article discusses opportunities and challenges in the governance of urban sustainability transitions, with an emphasis on the role and necessary capabilities of collaborative intermediary organisations (CIOs). CIOs are defined as a particular type of intermediary organisations that create platforms for deliberation and collaboration between diverse stakeholders. Following a review of the literature on (urban) sustainability transition and cross-sector collaboration, the article discusses two case studies of CIOs in the Cape Town city region, bringing to bear disparate socio-economic and institutional conditions in an emerging economy city characterised by high degrees of inequality. The case studies illustrate the important potential role played by CIOs in urban transitions, particularly at the sub-city scale. They also suggest a number of points that expand upon or create new insights for our understanding of urban sustainability transitions: The important role of authentic deliberation between disparate stakeholders and interests, and the difficulties in achieving this especially in a highly unequal society; the need for an explicit distinction and institutionalised link between deliberation and implementation; the related challenge of embedded autonomy; and the requirement of particular capabilities among CIOs' leadership, with a focus on creative approaches to ambiguity and conflict.
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