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published: 18-05-2010

Transitions to Sustainable Development

This recent study, published by Routledge, presents and combines three perspectives on transitions to a sustainable society: complexity theory, innovation theory, and governance theory. The authors, together serving as directors of KSI (Knowledge network for System innovations and Transitions), have thus produced a comprehensive handbook, which is also the first volume of a new book series on transitions to a sustainable society.

Cover Volume IIn this book, the authors seek to understand transitions dynamics, and how and to what extent they may be influenced. They do so from the conviction that only through drastic system innovations and transitions it becomes possible to bring about a turn to a sustainable society. The authors consider this development, described in 1987 by the Brundtland Commission as one ‘that ties in with the needs of the present without endangering the power of future generations to satisfy their own needs,' as inevitable for solving a number of structural problems on our planet, such as the environment, the climate, the food supply, and the social and economic crisis. Among other things this implies that our world has to overcome the undesirable side effects of the ongoing ‘modernization transition,' which began around 1750. However, the transition to sustainability has to compete with other developments, and it is uncertain which development will gain the upper hand.

In Transitions to Sustainable Development the authors, each from their own angle, closely address the need for transitions, as well as their dynamics and design. Thereby they concentrate on historical cases as well as on contemporary examples. One topic addressed, for instance, is the modernization of Dutch agriculture from 1886 up to the present struggle for sustainable farming; another topic is the so-called energy transition, a major program launched by the Dutch government. In addition, the authors discuss these topics in relation to views of other experts, both from the Netherlands and other countries. In the closing chapter, the authors touch on several major issues: how can we master transitions, and influence and steer them? How can we better grasp transitions? What kind of research agenda is called for in this field?

ISBN10: 0-415-87675-3 (Hardback)
ISBN13: 978-0-415-87675-9 (Hardback)
Pages: 397 pages
Details: Book information at Routledge