A nature-loving senior citizen in Kolkata, India, uses discarded tyres and containers to create a museum of trees. © TUC / Manna
Increasing calls for transformation to address climate change and related challenges underscore the societal imperative to shift from mindsets that drive environmentally unsustainable and socially unjust processes to mindsets that enable urban sustainability transformations. However, it is not always clear what such mindsets comprise, if and how they can be shifted and under which conditions. Fragmented understandings of the concept of mindsets and limited empirical analysis beyond Europe and North America have hindered progress in this field. To address these gaps, we propose a novel conceptual and analytical framework for identifying mindsets. The framework is applied to survey data collected from over 150 Urban Labs members in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Through cluster analysis, three distinct personas are identified: the Skeptical Activist, the Optimist Technocrat and the Bystander with Mixed Feelings. Results offer valuable insights into the emotions, beliefs, values, perceptions, attitudes and worldviews that guide the behavior of diverse stakeholders in urban climate governance. The article advances the understanding of the human dimension of climate change and its interlinkages with urban development goals. It also proposes social innovation strategies to trigger mindset shifts, foster climate action and accelerate urban sustainability transformations.