When it comes to environmental protection and climate change, the scope of the issues at stake is too complex, multi-actor and long-term to be solved by elected governments alone. Innovation in participatory governance can be considered one of the most important developments in public policy and administration, with the potential to be particularly relevant to address the “climate emergency”.

The chapter will present the main findings from an 18-month project supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Climate-Knowledge and Innovation Community's (KIC) initiative “Healthy, Clean Cities Deep Demonstrations”, which engaged 14 cities to promote collaborative experiments for climate resilience and towards achieving carbon neutrality. More specifically it will reflect on the learning from the Assise model in a metropolitan area in France, which promoted an innovative form of governance for ecological transition. This could be considered a case of innovation in reaction to social movement pressure, which presents interesting points of reflection on the role of movements when they act as a “collaborative countervailing power”. When equipped with the right competencies and policy framing, movements can play a crucial role in shifting the political will and creating conducive political conditions for democracy-driven governance.