Cities concentrate a large part of the world economy today. Understanding how the urban economy and its decision making function as well as how they are connected to a larger world (regional, national, global) is fundamental to create governance mechanisms and the institutions to move the world towards a green economy. This paper analyzes the city through its key economic processes of the transformation of space; circulation (transport); consumption and production and social, knowledge and ecosystem services. Transforming urban processes will only be achieved with better urban governance. As governance is embedded in institutions, it is the foundation for building the legitimate political and social mechanisms to green socio-ecological and economic systems. Yet the question of whether or not current governance systems in these processes are steering cities towards a greener economy, or if they are, how are they affecting people and ecosystems is yet to be addressed. Thus, we propose a set of governance indicators to assess the greening of urban processes that go beyond the decision-making procedures and include the capacity to implement change, the results of greening the economy and final outcomes on the ground. We also look at the obstacles, achievements and lessons in the greening of the direct and indirect economic processes in cities. (C) 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.