28.05.2010, Jacqueline Cramer, former Dutch minister for Spatial Planning and the Environment

'Good governance is key in energy transition process'

‘Transition management literature, like Transitions to Sustainable Development taught us how to structure a complex, interactive design process in which all relevant stakeholders were involved. After launching the national Climate Change programme, new initiatives started to bloom in a variety of sectors. All kinds of new sustainable businesses arose while societal support for the energy transition was growing as well. In the past the call for action on climate change came from specific groups in society. Now we see that the issue is becoming part of a much broader movement. All kinds of new actors in industry and society start to take up the issue.'

‘ At the same time you see that opponents, who question the role of mankind in climate change, become more vocal as well. This rather chaotic dynamic is characteristic for the gradual shift from the take off phase to the acceleration phase. A crucial factor is securing the consistency of government policy. Changing the rules of the game in the meantime is disastrous for the process. Good governance is key in the energy transition process.'

‘The transition to a sustainable society is a revolution that can be compared in scale and magnitude with the ICT and internet revolution of the late 20th century. Perhaps we cannot yet fully imagine how our energy technologies and material cycles will look by the end of this century, but we can be certain they will be different from the current technologies.'   

For mrs Cramers keynote speach at the KSI Conference , see PDF below

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Per Olsson
2 June 19:15
I agree with Derk and his remark about governments. But I want to raise another issue regarding how the transition management literature addresses sustainable development. In my opinion, transition management research tends to miss the ecological dimension of such shifts. Addressing only the social dimension will not be sufficient to guide society toward sustainable outcomes. Societies may go through major transformations without improving the capacity to learn from, respond to, and manage environmental feedback from dynamic ecosystems. For example a systemic shift to biofuels might slow climate change but cause land-use changes that can lead to ecological degradation, regime shifts and lock-in traps difficult to get out of.
John Grin
1 June 22:28
I guess that government must always be reliable - that is the spirit of the demand of consitency mentioned by Cramer. Simultaneously, Derk of course is right in pointing out that sustainable transitions are about profound change. The real issue is: who is in charge here? My own, tentative, answer: government should (1) be responsive to (2) the needs of the real pioneers of sustainable development, as well as those who are likely to follow them soon.
Derk Loorbach
28 May 16:06
As much as i like the compliments of former minister Cramer, i do fundamentally disagree with the statement that: 'A crucial factor is securing the consistency of government policy. Changing the rules of the game in the meantime is disastrous for the process. ' Yes, government policy should be consistent, but primarily consistent in following principles based on the inherent uncertain and chaotic dynamics of acccelerating transition dynamics. In the transition perspective, the acceleration phase is about fundamental change of the game, the rules and the players. The worst thing a government can do is stick to its rules while the game is changing. We find that this is one of the central barriers transition networks now run up against: existing institutions, regulations and vested practices of government. What the government should be decisive about is the message that the game is changing and that it is willing to make fundamental choices and changes to accomodate the shift to sustainable systems. Good governance from the transition mangement perspective is thus not about being predictable and rigid, it is about changing the rules in an evolutionary and, ok, as predictable manner as possible.
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Transitions to Sustainable Development

door John Grin, Jan Rotmans, Johan Schot, in collaboration with Frank Geels and Derk Loorbach

This recent study, published by Routledge, presents and combines three perspectives on transitions to a sustainable society: complexity theory, inn

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