Cities are multi-featured entities that vary in size, population density, climate, legal competencies and population needs in physical, social, economic and emotional terms. Cities are also the key in the transition to a sustainable future. Municipal governments can use their mandate to embark on a sustainability pathway, which will require a deep understanding of what sustainability is, a diagnosis of the current state of sustainability within the city and a prioritization of the dimensions and areas that require more urgent attention.

An urban sustainability framework provides an overview of the municipal state and progress in terms of sustainability. An adequate depiction of the performance of a city can potentially be used to inform theories of change aimed at supporting the sustainability transition.