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Development of central elements of a concept for transformative environmental policy

Across disciplines, transformation of societies towards sustainability is seen as necessary in order to live within the planetary boundaries and to prevent unforeseeable negative consequences (like e.g. uncontrolled climate change) for our well-being. But there are sharp divisions over the question how such a ‚transformed society’ should look like. Also, it is still debated how such change processes can be brought about and if they can be governed at al. At the same time there are continuously change processes taking place, be it the rise of sharing economy or technological innovations.

How can public policy, and specifically environmental policy, govern or support transformation towards sustainability? The project aims at developing central elements of a concept for transformative environmental policy.

The project builds on previous work, were we developed a rudimentary concept of transformative environmental policy (see ffu-report). The concept of transformative environmental policy is based on the assumption of limited government’s capacities to plan and steer societal transformations. It is also based on the notion of transformation as a co-evolution of different societal systems, and in particular technological systems, culture and institutions. There is no single determinant that is causal for transformation, and certainly not a single governmental intervention. Instead, transformations are the result of a dynamic interplay between different systems and innovation.

In order to further develop the concept, scientific contributions will be analysed regarding the potential of governing transformations, stakeholder workshops will be held to discuss the design of the central elements with practitioners and last, a practical guideline will be formulated with examples of working fields, instruments, institutions and good practice for transformative environmental policies.

Partners: Öko-Institut e.V., IFOK