Researchers and policymakers increasingly appeal to the need for “transformation” in response to major sustainability challenges such as climate change and the global sustainable development goals. But what does transformation actually mean? What do we know about the governance and politics of sustainability transformations, and what are key priorities for future research? A recently published paper aims to critically survey the landscape of fragmented and often competing ideas in the literature about how we conceptualise and study sustainability transformations. It identifies a range of key challenges at the heart of studying sustainability transformations, and outlines a range of specific research priorities.
The paper, published in Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, traces back to a workshop held at the 2014 Norwich Conference on Earth System Governance, which first led to an Earth System Governance Working Paper in 2015, and now a substantially revised and deepened analysis in the current paper. We see that the Earth System Governance community is uniquely placed to bring our collective experience to bear on the major emerging debates about sustainability transformations that are happening around the world.
Patterson, James, Karsten Schulz, Joost Vervoort, Sandra van der Hel, Oscar Widerberg, Carolina Adler, Margot Hurlbert, Karen Anderton, Mahendra Sethi, Aliyu Barau. 2016. Exploring the governance and politics of transformations towards sustainability. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2016.09.001