Around the globe governments are struggling to achieve improved urban sustainability and resilience through traditional governance tools. In collaboration with business and civil society they have introduced a range of innovative tools that aim to overcome the weaknesses of such traditional governance tools. What are the opportunities and constraints of such innovative governance tools? To what extent are they successful in achieving a rapid improvement of urban sustainability and resilience? In this seminar, Dr Jeroen van der Heijden looks at these questions through a historical lens, tracing the story of cities from Mesopotamia to the present day.