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Transitions to Sustainability and the Role of Policy


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Presentation delivered by Prof. Dr. Derk Loorbach for URBACT Training for Elected Representatives on Integrated and Sustainable Urban Development.
Seminar 3 (2-4 December 2013, Brussels, Belgium): Sustainability and change. How can cities tackle the challenges of climate change and assess their progress? And how to intervene in complex energy transitions while improving a city's quality of life?

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Transitions to Sustainability and the Role of Policy

  1. 1. Transitions to Sustainability and the role of policy Prof. Dr. Derk Loorbach Brussels, 03-12-2013
  2. 2. DRIFT • Dutch Research Institute For Transitions, Rotterdam with 18 action researchers • Established 2004 as part of the national transition research program KSI • Action/activist research institute; (international) fundamental and applied research, consultancy, academic/postgraduate education • STRN: 600+ members globally
  3. 3. Program of thissession • Introductiontosustainabilitytransitionsandtrans ition management • Examples of urbantransition management • Group exercises: building blocksfortransition • Synthesis: the transitionnarrative 12-12-2013 Afvalwaterketen - fabrieken
  5. 5. Persistent unsustainability • Current socio-economic systems are inherently unsustainable – Economically, ecologically and socially • But they are also heavily path-dependent – Locked in technologically, economically and culturally • Incremental improvement is not enough and CO2 is only one of the problems – Sub-optimization often only strengthens lock-in
  6. 6. Systemic destabilisation • The foundations underlying historical modernization are at the end of their life-cycle – Growth, efficiency, specialisation, optimisation • Unpredictable and shockwise change seems inevitable – Just like in historical transitions • Current crises are symptoms of non-linear systemic shifts happening – We need to consider these as windows of opportunity for major change towards sustainability
  7. 7. Symptoms of destabilisation
  8. 8. Transitions Long-term (one or two generations) fundamental change of structure, culture and practices in a societal (sub)system – culture:collective set of values, norms, perspectives (shared orientation), paradigms – structure:physical infrastructure, economic infrastructure, institutions, rules, regulations, collective routines – practices:behaviour, operation, implementation  Periodic, non-linear systemic shift common in ecological and socio-economic systems  Paradigm to analyse and influence complex societal change Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  9. 9. Transition levels Macro-level: landscape autonomous trends, paradigms, slow changes Meso-level: regime Dominant structure, culture and practices Micro-level: niches innovative ideas, projects, technologi es, niche actors Based on Geels and Kemp, 2001 Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  10. 10. Transition phases stabilisation reconfiguration predevelopment tipping phase Sustainable Society? enhancedlock-in decline Based on Rotmans et al, 2001 Time Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  11. 11. Evolutionary revolutions • Revolution at systems level on the long term • Evolution on the short-term: multiple and reinforcing small steps Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  12. 12. Characteristics of transitions • Inherent uncertainties and unpredictability – Wicked or unstructured problems • Emergence, co-evolution and self-organisation – As typical dynamics underlying systems change • Unmanageable, ambiguous and contested – They are mainly about behavioral, institutional, cultural change • Transitions most likely do not automatically lead to sustainability – It is about the process of sustainable development rather than the end goal
  14. 14. Transition governance principles • long-term thinking as the basis for short term policy • thinking in terms of multiple domains (multi-domain), different actors (multi-actor), different levels (multi-level) • learning as an important aim for policy (‘learning-by-doing’ and ‘doing-by-learning’) • orient governance towards system innovation besides system improvement • keeping options open, exploring multiple pathways • selectiveparticipationfocusing on frontrunners
  15. 15. Transition Governance Framework Problem structuring, shared sense of urgency, guiding visions Institutional and structural changes, new networks/ coalitions Monitoring, evaluating and learning Breakthrough actions, projects and initiatives, new organisations
  16. 16. Transitions… Are not… Canbe… • Manageable • Anticipated • Makeable • Influenced • Engineerable • Predictable • Guided • Accelerated
  17. 17. Transition arenas society Regular arenas - Short term - Peloton - Incremental change - Problem- and goal oriented Transition arenas - Long term - Frontrunners - System-innovation - Problem- and goal searching
  18. 18. Transition Management Framework establishment of transition arenas, shared problem definitions and visions Developing images coalitions and transitionagendas Monitoring, evaluating and learning Mobilizing actors and executing projects and experiments
  19. 19. Transition Team Transition Arena Phase I Phase III Setting the scene Framing the transition Phase II Phase IV Exploringdynamic Envisioning a s sustainablecity Phase V Reconnecting long term & short term Transition Networks TransitionExp eriments Phase VI Goinginto action Phase VII Engaging&ancho ring
  20. 20. Tools expert-arena problem analysis SCENE MLP patterns actor selection reflexive monitoring system analysis TRANSCE arena evaluation monitoring framework actor analysis trans. indicators TM experiments transitioning DBU Deepening, broadening, upscaling multiple participatory tools agenda
  21. 21. EXAMPLES
  22. 22. Mitigation in Urban Areas, Solutions for Innovative Cities Aberdeen 5 local governments search for pathways to a low carbon future Ghent Supported by two knowledge institutions: CRP Henri Tudor (LUX), DRIFT (NL) Montreuil Rotterdam Ludwigsburg
  23. 23. Transition arena Ghent (Belgium) •Ghent, great place to live • Locally creating added value • Energetic city, intelligent cycles • Ghentenaar home in the city
  24. 24. CWG Valorisation waste water andbiodegradables CWG Art Sector Research biogas from biodegr. 20 cultural organizations > 100.000 visitors CEIP meets GMS 938 mobbers CWG consumer pusher market KWG mobiliteit Inspiration to political parties Climate arena Ghent (Belgium) Mobility arena Support forSMEs Transition University Ghent Assessment of potentialfor ESCO’s CWG Energy Efficiency in business KWG UGent CWG Urban Farming
  25. 25. Old industrialharbordevelopment • Transition arena developingsustainabilityvisionandambition – Shared discourse and break awayfromoldparadigm • Strategic agenda with 5 sustainabilitypathways – Orientationforexperimentsand open invitationtoparticipate • Experimentaldevelopmentstrategy – Learning-by-doingandevolvingpractice
  26. 26. One of the images: Floating City (Design: Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  27. 27. …the transition experiment Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  28. 28. Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  29. 29. Resilient neighbourhoods Strategic Organisational Practical
  30. 30. Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  31. 31. Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  33. 33. Tipping points
  34. 34. Blurringboundaries Old structures of modernization era erodingfromwithinthr ough cross-domain networks of actors across food, energy, water, social services, andeconomy. 12-12-2013
  35. 35. Power shifts 12-12-2013
  36. 36. Emergence 12-12-2013
  37. 37. Economictransition 12-12-2013 Afvalwaterketen - fabrieken
  38. 38. Transition in roles Sustainability science & action research Social value business & business transition Transition Management Facilitating and participating governance social entrepreneurship & cooperative initiatives
  40. 40. What is the (persistent) problem? • Understanding currenttransitiondynamics • Identifyingtransitionpotential • Identifying change agents • Creatingspaceandmindsetforreflexiveexperi mentation
  41. 41. What is a sustainablecity? • Sustainablypowered • Clean mobility • Vitalcirculareconomy • Adaptiveand green • …?
  42. 42. Transitionpathways Based on Rotmans et al, 2001 Time Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
  43. 43. Backcasting exercise 1. Formulateaninspiringambitious target 2. Reasonbackwards: whatneedsto change In 5 yearintervals 3. Includesuprisesandbreakthroughs 4. Make threesuggestionsfor action 12-12-2013 Afvalwaterketen - fabrieken
  44. 44. Thank you for your attention For more information and publications: