Transformations to Sustainability
van Zwanenberg, Patrick
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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight how transformations to sustainable economies and societies are a major global challenge. This Working Paper offers a brief overview of different conceptual approaches to transformation, and outlines a set of practical principles for effective research and action towards sustainability. We review three approaches to transformation, labelled: 'structural', 'systemic' and 'enabling'. We show how different ways of understanding what we mean by transformations can affect what actions follow. But these approaches are not mutually exclusive. We use global examples on low-carbon economy transformations, seed systems, wetland conservation and peri-urban development to show how they can be complementary and reinforcing. We describe three cross-cutting practical challenges and responses that must be taken seriously for effective transformations to sustainability: diverse knowledges, plural actors and the political nature of transformation. Realising the ambitions of the SDGs, we conclude, requires being clear about what we mean by transformation, and recognising these basic methodological principles for action.
CitationScoones, I., Stirling, A., Abrol, D., Atela, J., Charli-Joseph, L., Eakin, H., Ely, A., Olsson, P., Pereira, L., Priya, R., van Zwanenberg, P. and Yang, L. (2018) Transformations to Sustainability, STEPS Working Paper 104, Brighton: STEPS Centre
Is part of seriesSTEPS Working Papers;104
Rights holderESRC STEPS Centre
SponsorThis working paper is partly based on the research supported by the Transformations to Sustainability programme, which is coordinated by the International Science Council and funded by the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and implemented in partnership with the National Research Foundation of South Africa. The Transformations to Sustainability Programme represents a contribution to Future Earth.
- ESRC STEPS Centre