Strategy for Sustainability Transitions

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Strategy for Sustainability Transitions

Governance, Community and Environment

9781035323999 Edward Elgar Publishing
Kristof Van Assche, University of Alberta, Canada, Raoul Beunen, Open University, the Netherlands and Monica Gruezmacher, University of Alberta, Canada
Publication Date: April 2024 ISBN: 978 1 03532 399 9 Extent: c 324 pp
In this innovative work, Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen and Monica Gruezmacher analyse the challenges and possibilities of sustainability transitions, presenting the dilemmas facing the path to sustainable communities and societies, as well as proposing creative solutions. The authors deploy evolutionary governance theory as a conceptual framing for transition strategy, highlighting the importance of understanding governance and community strategy in any potential response to environmental crises.

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Contents
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In this innovative work, Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen and Monica Gruezmacher analyse the challenges and possibilities of sustainability transitions, presenting the dilemmas facing the path to more sustainable communities and societies, as well as proposing creative solutions. The authors deploy evolutionary governance theory as a conceptual framing for transition strategy, highlighting the importance of understanding governance and community strategy in any potential response to environmental crises.

This timely book expertly draws on a wide range of disciplines and theories, in considering the limitations imposed by unpredictable dynamics of power, discourse and affect and the shifting boundaries of what is governable. The authors demonstrate the creative potential of both instabilities and rigidities in governance. Chapters detail the basics of evolutionary governance theory, developing and applying it to transition strategy by engaging in an accessible manner with post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, institutional economics, systems theory and critical management studies. In a clearly constructed theoretical narrative, the results of this engagement become clear, in a new understanding of the weight of the past on governance and community, the construction of temporality, change and strategic change, contextual notions of good governance, and how these affect major shifts towards sustainability.

Strategy for Sustainability Transitions is an important addition to an ever-expanding and crucial field. Particularly relevant to practitioners and policy-makers interested in sustainable development and environmental governance, it will greatly appeal to students and scholars of human geography, public policy and administration, environmental politics and planning and development studies.

Critical Acclaim
‘Always insightful, sometimes challenging, Strategy for Sustainability Transitions tackles global issues that have been piling up, from climate change to social inequality. The interdisciplinary approach of the authors is unique and inspiring. The crux of their argument is that the transition requires strategies underpinned by a comprehensive understanding of governance.’
– Fikret Berkes, University of Manitoba, Canada and author of Advanced Introduction to Resilience (Edward Elgar, 2023)

‘Sustainability transitions and transformations are indeed political struggles. The Agenda 2030 is a political, not a technical agenda. Reducing it to implementation means that the conflicts of interest between different actor groups and governance levels, the trade-offs between different sustainability concerns and the power differences that are real and generally prioritise the existing rather than the to be achieved are not addressed. Transitional change brings about winners and losers. It is a struggle between private sector, civil society, policy-making and academia, with politics being its moderator. The presented volume gives insights into this non-linear search process and reflects on it conceptually, methodologically and based on empirical examples from across the world. Worth reading by anyone interested in societal change processes for sustainable futures.’
– Anna-Katharina Hornidge, German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)

‘This eye-opening book profoundly recasts our understanding of the interrelationship between transformative governance, communities and the environment. Developing a new conceptuality while relying on hands-on methods and driven by a focus on concrete problems, it provides a comprehensive framework useful for both academics and practitioners of transition.’
– Poul F. Kjaer, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

‘Kristof Van Assche, Raoul Beunen and Monica Gruezmacher’s book starts with a quote by Machiavelli. Therefore it might be appropriate to close it with another, no less fitting, Machiavelli quote: “It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” Strategy for Sustainability Transitions is a courageous book that might help readers to rethink the order of things and start exploring new possible orders.’
– Martin Kornberger, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden and University of New South Wales, Australia

‘This excellent volume examines a key question of our time – the possibility of sustainability transitions – through an evolutionary governance lens. In addition to exploring how climate change, biodiversity and energy crises, water and food scarcity require societal transitions, it keeps a firm eye focused on the lessons that have been learned about why societal transitions occur (or not) and especially on the role played in these processes by governing institutions writ large. Drawing on earlier work by the authors and others in the field, the book introduces and applies the idea of a “governance path” in assessing how likely any sustainability transition might be and in what directions any such transition is likely to go. Concluding with a discussion of the interplay between governance and policy strategies, the book highlights the need for both good governance and good strategies if any kind of successful transition is to occur.’
– Michael Howlett, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Contents
Contents:
1 Introduction: transitions, Grand Challenges and big promises
2 Basic concept for mapping transitions: governance and its actors
3 Basic concepts for transition mapping: institutions
4 Governance paths as history and infrastructure for transition
5 The realm of discourse: stories and concepts in
governance and community
6 Power and knowledge in governance: enabling,
structuring and hindering transitions
7 Rigidities in governance and transition: dependencies
8 Flexibility and change: finding a balance in governance
and transition
9 Looking forward and back: building futures and encoding
pasts in governance
10 Strategy in governance: communities and their futures
reimagined and reconstructed
11 Transitions reconsidered: navigating dilemmas,
negotiating futures, affecting identities
12 If people don’t like it: resistance, backlash and counterstrategy
13 Good governance as a precondition and goal in
sustainability transitions
14 Conclusion: strategy in governance for transition
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