New paper published on “sustainability transformations”

A new paper has just been published on the topic of “sustainability transformations”. This is a strong theme emerging in recent years within global sustainability research and policy debates, which focuses on understanding how societies can make major changes towards achieving a more sustainable and just world, particularly under climate change.

This paper surveys a variety of different approaches to studying sustainability transformations, and particularly focuses on identifying what is known and what is missing when it comes to the governance and politics dimensions.It is published in the journal of Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions.

This work is a collaboration within the Earth System Governance network.

The paper is fully open access (!) and is freely available here: The title and abstract are below:

‘Exploring the governance and politics of transformations towards sustainability’


The notion of ‘transformations towards sustainability’ takes an increasingly central position in global sustainability research and policy discourse in recent years. Governance and politics are central to understanding and analysing transformations towards sustainability. However, despite receiving growing attention in recent years, the governance and politics aspects of transformations remain arguably under-developed in the global sustainability literature. A variety of conceptual approaches have been developed to understand and analyse societal transition or transformation processes, including: socio-technical transitions, social-ecological systems, sustainability pathways, and transformative adaptation. This paper critically surveys these four approaches, and reflects on them through the lens of the Earth System Governance framework (Biermann et al., 2009). This contributes to appreciating existing insights on transformations, and to identifying key research challenges and opportunities. Overall, the paper brings together diverse perspectives, that have so far remained largely fragmented, in order to strengthen the foundation for future research on transformations towards sustainability.

Citation details:

Patterson, J., Schulz, K., Vervoort, J., van der Hel, S., Widerberg, O., Adler, C., Hurlbert, Anderton, K., Sethi, M., Barau, A. 2017. Exploring the governance and politics of transformations towards sustainability. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions.


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