In Transition Towards Sustainability

In Transition Towards Sustainability

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3500-3.ch001


The aim of this first chapter is to introduce the reader to one general theory that tries to link the sustainability paradigm and sustainability science to empirical practices and evidence in order to describe the dynamic and complex times we all experience. The Transition Studies theory is a theoretical concept and conceptual tool that help analysts, researchers but also policy makers and practitioners to contextualize their sustainable strategies and actions. This chapter introduces the theory and describes it focusing on ideas such as the socio-technical regime, the Multi-Level Perspective and the Strategic Niche Management to introduce two key concepts for the following analysis of grassroots innovation: the determinant roles of action from the bottom (grassroots) and the local level (niche).
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Introduction: Setting The Theoretical Context For Sport Contribution To Sustainability

The financial and economic crisis that started in 2007 in the United States and that through globalization expanded worldwide should be defined as the triggering point of the new era of sustainability. Although the sustainability paradigm entered the international debate and arena in 1987 due to the works of the UN Commission (Brudtland), there is empirical evidence that the paradigm has effectively entered the agenda of business, policy makers and citizens all around the world since the starting of the latest global economic crisis. The sustainability reports from the MIT and the Boston Consulting Group (2009-2016) show very well how sustainability has entered and earned rankings in the agenda of global companies worldwide in just a few years. Political and public debates on climate change, immigration problems, market failures, social crises and so on are themes that are here to stay and testimony that a change of paradigm is welcome and hoped by many voices all around the world.

Thus, nowadays there is a common convergence on finding that the economy, the environment and society have to be considered together, or in other terms, that sustainability is central to the development debate in both advanced and less developed countries. The critics to the paradigm of unlimited growth find their theoretical background in the paradigm of sustainable development. Yet, many systemic and multidisciplinary studies and researches have still to be developed in order to find a common ground to share analytical methodologies and empirical methods to evaluate the sustainability of development strategies, policies and actions, and to meet common goals as those indicated by the 2015 UN Agenda2030 on Sustainable Deevlopment.

There is still a lack of attention on the processes and dynamics responsible for the transition towards sustainability. The many challenges coming from a complex scenario driven by multiple processes like globalization, climate change, demography, the fall of the welfare states in western societies, immigration flows, terrorism, and the ICT revolution require a more elaborated and sophisticated conceptualization of the transition of socio-technological systems towards sustainability and their dimensions. On the other side, there is need for more innovation to support new lifestyles based on renewable resources and environmental- and social-friendly new products and services designed according to the new complexity and the real needs of communities and territories.

A more holistic, interdisciplinary and systemic approach should consider the dynamics and multi-dimensionality of phenomena and the co-evolutionary character of the establishment of systems, of their territorial configurations and the friction to or resistance to change (Coenen e Truffer, 2012).

This new approach should refuse the static perspective to adopt a spatial and multi-level dynamic one in order to focus on the main question of any genesis of change: What kind of actors, sectors and industries are involved? What are their strategies? What kind of relationships are they developing or have developed to pursue their goals? What is the role of the social, natural, cultural and above all territorial capitals in their strategies and actions?

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