Transformations to sustainability: combining structural, systemic and enabling approaches
The imperatives of environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation and social justice (partially codified in the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs) call for ambitious societal transformations. As such, few aspects of actionable knowledge for sustainability are more crucial than those concerning the processes of transformation.
This article offers a brief overview of different conceptualisations of transformation, and outlines a set of practical principles for effective research and action towards sustainability. We review three approaches to transformations, 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 an international set of 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 considerations that must be taken seriously for effective transformations to sustainability: diverse knowledges, plural pathways and the essentially political nature of transformation. Realizing the ambitions of the SDGs, we conclude, requires being clear about what we mean by transformation, and recognizing these basic methodological principles for action.
Research news | 2021-10-16
Centre receives substantial research funding on sustainable food production
IKEA Foundation grants 30 million SEK for continued research on more sustainable and just food systems. Gullspång Invest and its subsidiary Gullspång Re:food contribute additional 5 million SEK
Research news | 2021-10-16
Beatrice Crona appointed professor in sustainability science
Deputy science director selected for newly established professorship in sustainability science with focus on sustainable food systems
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New MOOC on how to deal with the climate crisis
Learn how to drive the social change that is fundamentally required for an effective response to climate change
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Ready for anything
Centre theme leader Cibele Queiroz explains why diversity is important in turbulent times