Sustainability Transformations: Agents and Drivers across Societies 1108487475, 9781108487474

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Sustainability Transformations: Agents and Drivers across Societies
 1108487475, 9781108487474

Table of contents :
Contents
Preface
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Part I Making Sense of Transformations
1 How Do We Change the World?
1.1 The Call for Transformation
1.2 Transitions and Transformations
1.3 Exploring Transformations
1.4 Research on and for Sustainability Transformations
2 Sense-Making Analysis
2.1 A Dialogical Approach to Sense-Making
2.2 Sense-Making in Action: Narrative, Framing, Categorisation, and Metaphor
2.2.1 Narratives
2.2.2 Frames and Framing
2.2.3 Categorisation: Analogies and Distinctions
2.2.4 Metaphors
2.3 Sites for Sense-Making on Societal Transformations
2.4 Empirical Foundations of the Study
2.4.1 Peer-Reviewed Research Literature
2.4.2 Policy Documents
2.4.3 International Media
2.4.4 Lay Sense-Making
2.5 Variations and Commonalities in Sense-Making on Sustainability Transformations
2.6 Rationale for the Selection of Empirical Data and Case Studies
3 How Societies Change: Theories of Transformation
3.1 Historical Transformations
3.1.1 Collapse or Amalgamation
3.1.2 Scale
3.1.3 Drivers of Change
3.1.4 Scope: Mega and Particular Transformations
3.1.5 Periodisations
3.2 The Industrial Revolution
3.3 Modernity
3.4 The Self-Regulating Market
3.5 A Fourth Industrial Revolution or Second Modernity?
3.6 Automobilisation
3.7 Abolition of Slavery
3.7.1 The Unending Struggle for Emancipation
3.7.2 The Abolition of Slavery as Analogous to Societal Transformations towards Sustainability
3.8 Implications for Sustainability Transformations
Part II Varieties of Transformations to Sustainability
4 Global Arenas of Transformations
4.1 Societal Transformations in the Research Literature
4.2 Societal Transformations in International News Media
4.2.1 Transformation Scale, Scope, and Approaches
4.2.2 Transformation Goals
4.2.3 Actors and Drivers of Change
4.3 Transformation Aspirations in Global Sustainability Governance
4.3.1 The Transformative 2030 Agenda
4.3.2 The Paris Agreement
4.3.3 Transformation Scale, Scope, and Approaches
4.3.4 Transformation Goals
4.3.5 Agents and Drivers of Change
4.4 Implications for Sustainability Transformations
5 Localising Transformations
5.1 Cabo Verde: The Bridge Builder
5.1.1 Cabo Verde Focus Groups
5.1.2 Varieties of Transformation in Cabo Verde
5.2 Guangzhou, Pearl River Delta, China: A Chinese Model
5.2.1 Guangzhou Focus Groups
5.2.2 Varieties of Transformation in Guangzhou, China
5.3 Fiji: Leadership of the Vulnerable
5.3.1 Fiji Focus Groups
5.3.2 Varieties of Transformation in Fiji
5.4 Sweden: Towards a Fossil Free Welfare State
5.4.1 Swedish Focus Groups
5.4.2 Varieties of Transformation in Sweden
5.5 Boulder, Colorado, USA: A US Frontrunner
5.5.1 Boulder Focus Groups
5.5.2 Varieties of Transformation in Boulder, Colorado, USA
5.6 Implications for Sustainability Transformations
6 Transformation Narratives
6.1 Transformation as a Journey
6.2 Transformation as a Building Process
6.3 Transformation as a War
6.4 Transformation as Co-creation
6.5 Transformation as Recuperation
6.6 Implications for Sustainability Transformations
Part III Manoeuvring in a Multi-transformational World
7 Governing Transformations
7.1 Guiding Change
7.2 What Transformation Is Being Governed?
7.2.1 Understanding the Target System
7.2.2 Understanding the Depth of Transformation
7.2.3 Intended Outcomes of Transformation
7.3 What Factors Enable and Restrict Transformation?
7.3.1 Critical Conditions
7.3.2 Just Transformations
7.3.3 Incremental Change vs Disruptive Innovation
7.3.4 Niche Development vs Integrated Approaches
7.3.5 Mechanisms of Governance
7.3.6 The Power of Narratives
7.3.7 Changing the Way We Change
7.4 What Roles Do Different Actors Play?
7.4.1 Key Actors in Transformations
7.4.2 Narratives of Transformation Pathways
7.4.3 Interventions: Co-creation, Transformative Capacity, and Social Innovations
7.4.4 Agency and Social Structure
7.5 Implications for Sustainability Transformations
8 Our Transforming World
8.1 The Governability of Transformations
8.2 The System Boundaries of Transformations
8.3 The Pace of Transformations
8.4 Drivers of Change
8.4.1 Technology
8.4.2 Political Economy
8.4.3 Transformative Learning
8.4.4 Narratives
8.4.5 Perspective Change
8.5 Dialogues
8.6 Transformation as Utopian Thought
8.7 Never-Ending Stories of Transformation
References
Index

Citation preview

SUSTAINABILITY TRANSFORMATIONS

Societal transformations are needed across the globe in light of pressing environmental issues. This need to transform is increasingly acknowledged in policy, planning, academic debate, and media, whether it is to achieve decarbonisation, resilience, national development plans, or sustainability objectives. This volume provides the first comprehensive comparison of how sustainability transformations are understood across societies. It contains historical analogies and concrete examples from around the world to show how societal transformations could achieve the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through governance, innovations, lifestyle changes, education, and new narratives. It examines how societal actors in different geographical, political and cultural contexts understand the agents and drivers of societal change towards sustainability, using data from the academic literature, international news media, laypeople’s focus groups across five continents, and international politics. This is a valuable resource for academics and policymakers working in environmental governance and sustainability. bjo¨ rn-ola linne´ r is Professor of Environmental Change at Linköping University, Sweden. He leads international research on transnational climate governance and geopolitics of sustainability transformations. He is experienced as an advisor in international climate governance and sustainable development research policy. He is the author of The Return of Malthus and co-author of The Political Economy of Climate Change Adaptation. victoria wibeck is Professor of Environmental Change at Linköping University, Sweden. Her research focuses on communication studies. She is a recognised authority on sense-making of complex sustainability challenges, social representations of climate change, and communicative aspects of environmental management by objectives. She has internationally unique expertise in methodology for cross-country focus group research.

The Earth System Governance Project was established in 2009 as a core project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. Since then, the Project has evolved into the largest social science research network in the area of sustainability and governance. The Earth System Governance Project explores political solutions and novel, more effective governance mechanisms to cope with the current transitions in the socio-ecological systems of our planet. The normative context of this research is sustainable development; earth system governance is not only a question of institutional effectiveness, but also of political legitimacy and social justice. The Earth System Governance series with Cambridge University Press publishes the main research findings and synthesis volumes from the Project’s first ten years of operation.

Series Editor Frank Biermann, Utrecht University, the Netherlands Titles in print in this series Biermann and Lövbrand (eds.), Anthropocene Encounters: New Directions in Green Political Thinking van der Heijden, Bulkeley and Certomà (eds.), Urban Climate Politics: Agency and Empowerment Linnér and Wibeck, Sustainability Transformations: Agents and Drivers across Societies

SUSTAINABILITY TRANSFORMATIONS Agents and Drivers across Societies BJÖRN-OLA LINNÉR Linköping University, Sweden

VICTORIA WIBECK Linköping University, Sweden

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia 314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – 110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06–04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781108487474 DOI: 10.1017/9781108766975 © Björn-Ola Linnér and Victoria Wibeck 2019 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2019 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, Elcograf S.p.A. A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. ISBN 978-1-108-48747-4 Hardback ISBN 978-1-108-72037-3 Paperback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To our respective children Alva, Emil, Saga, and Love Ebba and Isak and the world that will be theirs

Contents

Preface Acknowledgements List of Abbreviations Part I

page xi xv xvii

Making Sense of Transformations

1 How Do We Change the World? 1.1 The Call for Transformation 1.2 Transitions and Transformations 1.3 Exploring Transformations 1.4 Research on and for Sustainability Transformations 2 Sense-Making Analysis 2.1 A Dialogical Approach to Sense-Making 2.2 Sense-Making in Action: Narrative, Framing, Categorisation, and Metaphor 2.2.1 Narratives 2.2.2 Frames and Framing 2.2.3 Categorisation: Analogies and Distinctions 2.2.4 Metaphors 2.3 Sites for Sense-Making on Societal Transformations 2.4 Empirical Foundations of the Study 2.4.1 Peer-Reviewed Research Literature 2.4.2 Policy Documents 2.4.3 International Media 2.4.4 Lay Sense-Making 2.5 Variations and Commonalities in Sense-Making on Sustainability Transformations 2.6 Rationale for the Selection of Empirical Data and Case Studies

1 3 3 5 7 8 10 10 13 13 14 15 16 17 17 17 18 18 19 20 21

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3 How Societies Change: Theories of Transformation 3.1 Historical Transformations 3.1.1 Collapse or Amalgamation 3.1.2 Scale 3.1.3 Drivers of Change 3.1.4 Scope: Mega and Particular Transformations 3.1.5 Periodisations 3.2 The Industrial Revolution 3.3 Modernity 3.4 The Self-Regulating Market 3.5 A Fourth Industrial Revolution or Second Modernity? 3.6 Automobilisation 3.7 Abolition of Slavery 3.7.1 The Unending Struggle for Emancipation 3.7.2 The Abolition of Slavery as Analogous to Societal Transformations towards Sustainability 3.8 Implications for Sustainability Transformations Part II

Varieties of Transformations to Sustainability

4 Global Arenas of Transformations 4.1 Societal Transformations in the Research Literature 4.2 Societal Transformations in International News Media 4.2.1 Transformation Scale, Scope, and Approaches 4.2.2 Transformation Goals 4.2.3 Actors and Drivers of Change 4.3 Transformation Aspirations in Global Sustainability Governance 4.3.1 The Transformative 2030 Agenda 4.3.2 The Paris Agreement 4.3.3 Transformation Scale, Scope, and Approaches 4.3.4 Transformation Goals 4.3.5 Agents and Drivers of Change 4.4 Implications for Sustainability Transformations 5 Localising Transformations 5.1 Cabo Verde: The Bridge Builder 5.1.1 Cabo Verde Focus Groups 5.1.2 Varieties of Transformation in Cabo Verde 5.2 Guangzhou, Pearl River Delta, China: A Chinese Model 5.2.1 Guangzhou Focus Groups 5.2.2 Varieties of Transformation in Guangzhou, China

22 23 23 25 25 27 27 28 32 35 36 40 44 53 54 56 61 63 64 66 72 74 75 77 77 81 82 83 86 91 94 95 98 100 101 104 106

Contents

5.3 Fiji: Leadership of the Vulnerable 5.3.1 Fiji Focus Groups 5.3.2 Varieties of Transformation in Fiji 5.4 Sweden: Towards a Fossil Free Welfare State 5.4.1 Swedish Focus Groups 5.4.2 Varieties of Transformation in Sweden 5.5 Boulder, Colorado, USA: A US Frontrunner 5.5.1 Boulder Focus Groups 5.5.2 Varieties of Transformation in Boulder, Colorado, USA 5.6 Implications for Sustainability Transformations 6 Transformation Narratives 6.1 Transformation as a Journey 6.2 Transformation as a Building Process 6.3 Transformation as a War 6.4 Transformation as Co-creation 6.5 Transformation as Recuperation 6.6 Implications for Sustainability Transformations Part III

Manoeuvring in a Multi-transformational World

7 Governing Transformations 7.1 Guiding Change 7.2 What Transformation Is Being Governed? 7.2.1 Understanding the Target System 7.2.2 Understanding the Depth of Transformation 7.2.3 Intended Outcomes of Transformation 7.3 What Factors Enable and Restrict Transformation? 7.3.1 Critical Conditions 7.3.2 Just Transformations 7.3.3 Incremental Change vs Disruptive Innovation 7.3.4 Niche Development vs Integrated Approaches 7.3.5 Mechanisms of Governance 7.3.6 The Power of Narratives 7.3.7 Changing the Way We Change 7.4 What Roles Do Different Actors Play? 7.4.1 Key Actors in Transformations 7.4.2 Narratives of Transformation Pathways 7.4.3 Interventions: Co-creation, Transformative Capacity, and Social Innovations

ix 107 110 112 112 113 114 115 117 119 120 123 124 130 134 136 139 141 145 147 147 150 151 154 156 157 157 159 160 163 163 165 167 169 169 170 171

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Contents

7.4.4 Agency and Social Structure 7.5 Implications for Sustainability Transformations 8 Our Transforming World 8.1 The Governability of Transformations 8.2 The System Boundaries of Transformations 8.3 The Pace of Transformations 8.4 Drivers of Change 8.4.1 Technology 8.4.2 Political Economy 8.4.3 Transformative Learning 8.4.4 Narratives 8.4.5 Perspective Change 8.5 Dialogues 8.6 Transformation as Utopian Thought 8.7 Never-Ending Stories of Transformation References Index

174 176 180 181 183 183 184 185 186 187 189 191 192 194 196 199 226

Preface

How do we change the world? Social sciences and humanities have always struggled to understand how the relationship between ideas, human agency, material conditions, and social institutions drives change. In response to the current global sustainability challenges of climate change, poverty, biodiversity loss, growing energy demand, and rapid urbanisation, a particular form of social change is increasingly being accentuated: non-linear systemic changes, also described as societal transformations. This book is concerned with such transformative changes: how can we understand what drives them, to what extent can they be governed, and how do actors’ understandings of the goals and pathways of transformations differ within and across societies? Three types of transformation processes jointly affect the world’s societies, shaping everything from people’s daily lives to the world politics of our time. In response to the fundamental transformations of the global environment, we see a growing desire to govern societal transformations towards sustainability. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are being pursued under the rubric of ‘transforming our world’. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the prospects of limiting global warming to 1.5° C concluded that doing so will require ‘transformative systemic change, integrated with sustainable development’ (Masson-Delmotte et al., 2018:16). Governments, international organisations, business, and civil society around the world are slowly beginning to respond to calls for non-linear systemic changes in how we live, do business, and organise our societies. We are also experiencing socio-technical transformations – sometimes referred to as ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ or ‘second modernity’– in how we interact digitally, physically, and biologically through, for instance, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, nanotechnology, gene editing, and mobile devices with astonishing processing power that make data fundamentally easier to access and manipulate.

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Amid these emergent and deliberate alterations, as people around the world articulate their visions or struggle to understand what sustainable societies will mean for them, we are witnessing the development of new concepts, metaphors, and visions. The concept of transformation is perhaps the most emblematic of these, signalling the complete restructuring of systems. It implies a reconstitution that goes beyond not only incremental change, but also transitioning from one state to another. One illustration of transformation encapsulating a qualitatively different type of change is the caterpillar-to-butterfly image appearing on the back cover of this book. It signals metamorphosis – a complete change in form – thereby illustrating what the concept of transformation, in the broadest sense, refers to: non-linear change that leads to a new form of a system. This book’s front cover image symbolises the numerous germinating initiatives, experiments, movements, and policies addressing transformation in different ways. In working on this book, we have been astonished by the creativity, curiosity, and determination manifest in such initiatives all over the world. The seeds of transformation are found in many places, and the movement for sustainability transformations is surely growing. Where all these seeds of transformation will take root, how they will grow and at what pace, and what shape they will take as they evolve are questions that make these times both fascinating and inspiring. Our intention is that this book will convey the determination to fundamentally address unsustainability around the world, while communicating some of the hopeful insights that spring from exploring transformation initiatives across societies. In addition, the book will explore the many ideas as to what transformation will require in terms of growing conditions. What drivers and agents of transformative change are highlighted in different contexts, and how are the relationships between emergent and deliberate transformations perceived and acted upon? With this book, we are not introducing a master plan for sustainable development management. As we learn from complex systems theory, attempts to control largescale socioecological systems will hardly unfold as intended, since we can never fully predict the irregularities and non-linear interactions. Nor are we suggesting that conceptual consensus across societies is either possible or desirable. Rather, one conclusion of our work is that sharing, discussing, and deliberating on the many stories of and perspectives on transformation are essential to profound societal transformation that goes beyond current customary practices. These are certainly not sufficient conditions, although in our view they are necessary transformative conditions. As we will show throughout this book, the scholarly literature on societal transformations as well as our empirical data express a rich range of views and ideas as to how societies are transformed. Our intention is to invite the reader into a world of stories, experiences, research, and governance ideas about how to make this world a more sustainable place.

Preface

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The book is organised in three parts: ‘Making Sense of Transformations’, ‘Varieties of Transformations to Sustainability’, and ‘Manoeuvring in a Multitransformational World’. In the first part – ‘Making Sense of Transformations’ – we provide a framework for our analysis. Chapter 1 – ‘How Do We Change the World?’ – presents the rationale, aim, and scope of the book, introduces key concepts, and outlines the state of research on and for transformations towards sustainability. The chapter highlights different calls for sustainability transformations in the United Nations 2030 Agenda, countries’ contributions to the Paris Agreement, and subsequent negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The chapter further discusses the difference between the concepts of transformation and transition. The chapter argues that greater conceptual clarity on sustainability transformations would facilitate decision-making and planning via democratisation, greater organisational effectiveness, and richer international attentiveness Chapter 2 – ‘Sense-Making Analysis’ – discusses the study’s theoretical and methodological foundations from the perspective of dialogical communication theory and the literature on sense-making resources. The chapter depicts the roles of narratives, framing, categorisation, and metaphors in sense-making. The book’s different empirical materials are described: peer-reviewed research literature, policy documents, international media texts, and focus group interviews. Chapter 3 – ‘How Societies Change’ – presents some key examples of how historians, anthropologists, economists, and other academics have tried to come to grips with the agents and drivers of previous societal transformations, and of contemporary rapid changes in technology, society, and culture. We cite examples of how the great Western transformation between 1500 and 1900 has been framed in different ways. Furthermore, we present two illustrative analogies of transformations: the abolition of slavery, and the replacement of horse transport with automobile transport in cities. This constitutes the basis for a typology of societal transformations based on the system level and pace of transformation. In the second part of the book – ‘Varieties of Transformation to Sustainability’ – we present the results of our empirical analysis. Chapter 4 – ‘Global Arenas of Transformation’ – analyses how the transformation concept has been used to describe or advocate change towards sustainable development in international contexts. First, we turn to the development of the research field, and continue with an overview of how sustainability transformations have been approached in the news media in different parts of the world. Finally, we turn to how sustainability transformations have been conceptualised in international politics. In particular, we consider the many visions of transformation outlined in the evolution of the 2030 Agenda and numerous countries’ contributions to the Paris Agreement.

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Chapter 5 – ‘Localising Transformations’ – discusses sense-making regarding societal transformations in selected local arenas: Praia in Cabo Verde, Guangzhou in China, the city of Nadi and a village in the Yasawa Islands in Fiji, Boulder in the USA, and the Östergötland region in Sweden. Chapter 5 presents the case study contexts, including their social, cultural, economic, and geopolitical circumstances of societal transformation and how transformation has been addressed in policy documents. We also present the stories of transformation emerging from twenty focus groups with citizens of these five countries, including, for example, the goals of transformation, drivers of social change, the role of top-down versus bottom-up initiatives, and the role of values. Chapter 6 – ‘Transformation Narratives’ – discusses narratives of transformation that recur throughout our data sets. We discuss five major ways of conceptualising transformation processes: as a journey, a building process, a war, co-creation, and recuperation. The chapter argues that it is important to unravel core narratives, as they signal different overarching structures in sense-making, connoting different insights into how to address societal challenges. Finally, in the third part – ‘Manoeuvring in a Multi-transformational World’ – we discuss the literature on transformation governance and the implications of our findings for elaborating on the agents and drivers of social change. Chapter 7 – ‘Governing Transformations’ – outlines ideas and approaches for governing various kinds of transformation, ranging from the transformational leverage of technology, market incentives, strengthening state actions, civil society initiatives, enhanced public education, spurring shifts of mindsets, to restructuring the economic world order. We present key concepts in the governance of transformation and discuss the various governance implications of aspirations for sudden, rapid, and profound changes versus proposals for incremental or niche developments. Chapter 8 – ‘Our Transforming World’ – discusses the general conclusions from the book’s exploration of stories of societal transformation around the world. In particular, it focuses on the governability of transformations, system boundaries, the pace of transformations, and the drivers of change, such as technology, political economy, learning, narratives, and perspective change. Finally, the chapter identifies the interconnectedness of personal, political, and practical transformations.

Acknowledgements

We are indebted to a number of colleagues who took the time to read and provide helpful comments on drafts of various chapters: Kevin M. Adams at the Stockholm Environment Institute; Lena Andersson-Skog at Umeå University; Mark CiocOrtega at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Jonas Anshelm, Anna Bohman, Kajsa-Stina Benulic, Mathias Fridahl, Erik Glaas, Anders Hansson, Fredrik Heintz, Mattias Hjerpe, Maria Jernnäs, Anna Kaijser, and Harald Rohracher at Linköping University; Anna Emmelin at Rosendals’ Garden Foundation; Pamela M. Feetham and Franco Vaccarino at Massey University; Giuseppe Feola at Utrecht University; Joel Halldorf at University College Stockholm; Martin Hultman at Chalmers University of Technology; Daniel Karlsson at the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare; Naghmeh Nasiritousi at Stockholm University; Roger Pielke Jr at University of Colorado Boulder; Henrik Selin at Boston University; Prabhat Upadhyaya at World Wildlife Fund South Africa, and Donald Worster at Renmin University of China. We also wish to extend our warmest thanks to the colleagues who collaborated in the cross-country focus group study on societal transformations: Melisa Alves, Januario Nascimento, Charles Yvon Rocha, and the rest of the team at Associação para a Defesa do Ambiente e Desenvolvimento (Association for the Defence of the Environment and Development (ADAD)), Cabo Verde; Therese Asplund and Anna Bohman at Linköping University, Sweden; Maxwell T. Boykoff at University of Colorado Boulder and Jessica Rich at Merrimack College, USA; Pamela M. Feetham and Franco Vaccarino at Massey University, New Zealand; and Yi Huang and Shi Xian at Guangzhou University, China. We are very grateful to all the colleagues who have commented on and contributed to the studies underpinning this book. The responsibility for the conclusions is of course entirely our own.

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We thank Lovisa Österlund at Linköping University Library for providing indispensable expertise and support in Chapter 4’s analysis of the peer-reviewed literature; Angela Sanseverino for practical support, good company, and Portuguese–English translations during the Cabo Verde case study; and Marianne Kropf, Layla Nunes Lambiasi, Alva Linnér, Ebba Wibeck and Paula Wrona for efficient editorial assistance. Thanks also go out to the anonymous peer-reviewers as well as the editorial team – commissioning editor Emma Kiddle, senior content manager Zoë Pruce, and editorial assistant Sarah Lambert at Cambridge University Press, Earth System Governance series editor Frank Biermann, and Sunantha Ramamoorthy and Abigail Neale for their work during production – for their insightful guidance and professional help. We are grateful to Linköping University’s vice-chancellor, the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the head of the Department of Thematic Studies for supporting the work reported in this book. We are also thankful to external funders who supported elements of the work: the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, Mistra, for support through the Mistra Geopolitics and Mistra Carbon Exit programmes, and the Swedish Research Council, Formas, for grants for the projects ‘A Global Potluck: Cross-National Patterns of State Engagement and Performance in the New Landscape of International Climate Cooperation’ (Grant no. 2011–779) and ‘Decarbonisation Leadership: Disentangling Swedish Transformation Pathways and Their Exemplary Roles’ (grant no. 2016–589). The book also contributes to the research programme ‘The Seed Box – A Mistra–Formas Environmental Humanities Collaboratory’. Our gratitude also goes to our respective families – Monica, Alva, Emil, Saga, and Love as well as Mats, Ebba, and Isak – without whose support, inspiration, and patience we would never have been able to embark on this adventure, much less be able to bring it home.

Abbreviations

COP GHG INDC IPCC MDG NAMA NDC SDG VNR UNFCCC

Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Greenhouse Gas Intended Nationally Determined Contributions Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Millennium Development Goal Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action Nationally Determined Contributions Sustainable Development Goal Voluntary National Review United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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Part I Making Sense of Transformations

1 How Do We Change the World?

1.1 The Call for Transformation ‘Transforming our world’ was the rallying cry when more than 150 world leaders converged on the United Nations (UN) to decide on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 (UN General Assembly, 2015). When the agenda was unanimously adopted by 193 members of the UN, it was hailed as an historic moment. This unprecedented transformational agenda was set to end poverty, fight inequality and protect the environment (UN General Assembly, 2015). Acclaimed actor and celebrity advocate Leonardo DiCaprio addressed the summit for local leaders in Paris during the 2015 UN climate negotiations, treating the theme ‘What is the transformation imperative?’ (Bloomberg Philanthropies, 2015). German Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted her ‘conviction that the transformation to a low-carbon economy brings enormous opportunities for growth’ at the 2017 climate negotiations in Bonn (Bundeskanzlerin, 2017). Rebuking Trumpism before the US Congress in April 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron reproached those who see preserving current polluting industries as ‘more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the global challenge of climate change’ (Élysée, 2018). The list of examples goes on. Not only is societal transformation towards sustainability heralded in speeches; it has also entered into decision-making, planning and public discourse. In submitting their official contributions to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, more than forty countries, mainly from the Global South, used the language of various versions of societal transformation: from Cabo Verde seeking to exploit windows of opportunity in a world in economic transformation (African Development Bank, 2012) to Papua New Guinea aspiring to ‘transform the nation’s mind-set and attitude’ (UNFCCC, 2015x). Since then, the concept of 3

4

How Do We Change the World?

transformation has grown in prominence also in high-income countries, for example, in the 2019 EU climate strategy. The scientific community is concurrently directing increasing attention towards societal transformations. The international research initiative Future Earth seeks to mobilise thousands of scientists with the ultimate objective of supporting ‘the more fundamental and innovative long-term transformations that are needed to move towards a sustainable future’ (Future Earth, 2015). In its special report on limiting warming to 1.5°C, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mentions transformation in various ways over 300 times – that is, on almost every other page of the report. Similarly, the 2019 global assessment report from the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, warning of an accelerating depletion of nature, is sprinkled with references to the concept. With one million species being threatened with extinction, the global assessment concludes that transformative changes are imperative for restoring and safeguarding nature (IPBES, 2019). These are just a few examples of how the slow progress in many pressing areas of global environmental change and global development has prompted calls to scale up and accelerate actions to promote sustainability. Incremental change simply will not suffice. Instead, societal transformations infer profound and enduring non-linear systemic changes, typically involving social, cultural, technological, political, economic, and/or environmental processes (Brand, 2016; Driessen et al., 2013; Hölscher et al., 2018; Patterson et al., 2017; Wibeck et al., 2019). The need for sustainability transformations is felt and expressed by people in many parts of the world. As this book will show, citizens in countries as diverse as Cabo Verde, China, Fiji, Sweden, and the USA highlight both similarities and differences in visions of future sustainable societies and of what it would take to attain these futures, breaking with the unsustainable conditions currently affecting their everyday lives. The concept of transformation is sometimes used figuratively and not explicitly defined (Feola, 2015). But, as Karen O’Brien observed, ‘transformation means different things to different people or groups, and it is not always clear what exactly needs to be transformed and why, whose interest these transformations serve, and what will be the consequences’ (O’Brien, 2012:670). Even if we can agree on a core definition of transformations, assessments of whether they have occurred will always differ. In the words of Ioan Fazey et al., ‘whether something is considered to have transformed is inherently subjective and relative’ (2018:198). What is considered by one person or group to be fundamental change of a system towards sustainability may be insignificant in the eyes of another individual or group. To mention just a few examples, the societal transformation concept is used to capture the striving of countries to rise in the world economic ranking from the

1.2 Transitions and Transformations

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low- to middle-income level or to improve public health; of cities to shrink their carbon footprints or become climate resilient; of business communities or policymakers to restructure sectors such as energy, transport, or agriculture; to civil society in the form of sharing economy-based communities or calling for new ontologies transgressing the human–nature divide. As the ‘transformation creed’ is often expressed in general terms, the deeper questions of what is to be transformed, by whom, and of how transformation is to be governed – if this is even possible – often remain unarticulated and unclear (Feola, 2015; Patterson et al., 2017). Without acknowledging these many variations, societal transformation risks becoming another catchword as an antonym for incremental change. On a closer look, as we will show throughout this book, expectations regarding transformation differ greatly across societies, not least in relation to the UN 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. Unpacking the varied sense-making about societal transformations is therefore necessary, not only to gain conceptual clarity about sustainability initiatives, but to enhance our knowledge of the dynamics, premises, and promises of societal transformations. 1.2 Transitions and Transformations Transition is often used as a synonym for transformation. Comparing the concepts, Katharina Hölscher et al. (2018:1) argued that ‘a lack of conceptual clarity − especially regarding the features making change “transformational” − can void the terms of their contribution to challenge the status quo’. We agree that, if transformation becomes a floating signifier, without a referent that denotes any particular quality or feature of change, it becomes just a general synonym for major change and loses its potential to unleash new ways of making sense of the predicaments of our time and the inevitable shifts we are facing. The concept of transition is often used interchangeably with transformation to capture systemic, non-linear, non-incremental change. For example, Johannes de Haan and Jans Rotmans (2011:92) defined transition as a ‘fundamental change in the structures, cultures and practices of a societal system, profoundly altering the way it functions’. Over the last two decades, research into transition has grown, manifested, for example, in the Sustainable Transitions Research Network (2010). Hölscher et al. (2018), at the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, see the terms transformation and transition as complementary. After reviewing how the concepts are used in research, they concluded empirically that the concepts ‘provide nuanced perspectives on how to describe, interpret and support desirable radical and non-linear societal change. Their differences may partially result

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How Do We Change the World?

from their etymological origins, but they largely stem from the different research communities concerned with either transition or transformation’ (Hölscher et al., 2018:2). Nonetheless, metaphors matter. As metaphors, transitions and transformations have different connotations, and their etymological difference is important: transition is rooted in the notion of a passage – ‘going across’ from one state to another – whereas transformation refers to ‘change in form or shape’. As emphasised by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980:145) in their seminal work on metaphors, ‘new metaphors have the power to create a new reality’. In shaping the narratives on evolving sustainable societies and how they should be achieved, it matters whether we are seeking to shift something to a different state of things or fundamentally change its form. We can, for example, think about transformation in terms of allegories, such as the metamorphosis from pupa, through caterpillar, to butterfly, as illustrated by this book’s back cover or the frog prince transmuted by the kiss of a princess. Transition research typically focuses on three levels of socio-technical systems: the niche, regime, and landscape levels. A niche describes a space of innovation where new ideas, technologies, and practices are developed and tested. The regime level describes the structural conditions that provide stability, including infrastructure choices, institutions, and established practices. These can make for lock-ins in path dependencies, but when altered may provide opportunities for rapid, fundamental change. Finally, the exogenous socio-technical landscape refers to the context thought to be outside the system but influencing it. This level is the locus of global environmental change, international politics, and global trade, all of which can be difficult to influence, but certainly affect the system level, determining to what extent and how a system can be changed (Fridahl & Johansson, 2017; Geels & Schot, 2010; Laes et al., 2014; Markard et al., 2012; Sustainable Transitions Research Network, 2010). Andy Stirling (2015) sees a complementary duality between societal transition and transformation in which the two concepts constitute each other, rather than being mutually exclusive ways to understand change. He suggests a distinction in which transition is ‘mediated mainly through technological innovation implemented under structured control, presided over by incumbent interests according to tightly-disciplined knowledge, towards a particular known (presumptively shared) end’ (Stirling, 2015:54), whereas societal transformation involves not only technological innovation, but a broader range of social practices and knowledge. The Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation (2019:14) illustrates the difference between the concepts as follows: The ‘ongoing transition to renewables is not just a shift from one set of fuels to another. It involves a much

1.3 Exploring Transformations

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deeper transformation of the world’s energy systems that will have major social, economic and political implications which go well beyond the energy sector. The term “energy transformation” captures these broader implications.’ We will make a similar distinction in this book. 1.3 Exploring Transformations This book explores variations and commonalities in sense-making regarding sustainability transformations in different arenas and societies around the world. From lay focus groups to high politics, from scholarly debates to the news media, we examine how societal actors in different geographical, political, and cultural contexts – not least outside the high-income countries – understand the why, what, and how of societal transformation. The book examines sustainability transformations from a broad international perspective. In addition, we provide in-depth insights into sense-making from five distinct locations: Praia in Cabo Verde, Guangzhou in China, the city of Nadi and a village in the Yasawa Islands in Fiji, Boulder in the USA, and the Östergötland region in Sweden. These are sites with ongoing public discussions and policy aspirations addressing societal transformation towards sustainability; they also represent different economic, geopolitical, and social circumstances. Societies are continually in a process of transformation, incidentally or through deliberate governance. Correspondingly, scholars have long grappled with theories of social change. As discussed in Chapter 3, the industrial revolution in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries exemplifies a major societal transformation, one based on the adoption of fossil fuels and thus tightly connected to alterations in the supply and use of energy (Barrett, 1999; Brown et al., 2013; Pearson & Foxon, 2012). Today, we are experiencing rapid fusions of technology in the digital, physical, and biological spheres – from artificial intelligence to gene editing – profoundly shifting the way we live our lives and organise our societies. The World Economic Forum calls this transformation the Fourth Industrial Revolution. ‘In terms of dimension’, states one research report, ‘the transformation into a low-carbon society is on par with a new Industrial Revolution in fast motion’ (WBGU, 2011:28). However, questions remain as to the appropriateness of such an analogy. Are the same driving forces operative as before? Framing sustainability transformation as a new industrial revolution may signal that the coming transformation will be driven by technology. Yet, as we shall see, historians do not all agree on whether technology-induced industrial development was the inceptive driving force behind the transformation called the Industrial Revolution, or whether it was a manifestation of a transformation of, for example, the political

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How Do We Change the World?

economy, the changed thinking and practices of modernity, or the ecological expropriation of the ‘Second Earth’ (Worster, 2016:13) made possible by the discovery of the Americas. A fundamental question is to what extent societal transformations can be governed. After our exposition of examples of how sustainability transformations are made sense of around the world, we will discuss the governance of transformation, considering whether transformation can be steered, who has the agency to execute this governance, and who will be affected and how. Depending on whether one takes a quantum leap, convergent, emergent, or gradualist approach to societal change, policy alternatives will range from those that directly target mega-transformation to those that seek to foster specific changes within an existing system, and from those that seek abrupt changes to those that foster gradual evolution. The main analytical foundation of this book is sense-making analysis, which helps us explore competing and complementary framings and narratives of societal transformations. The scholarly literature distinguishes between personal and societal transformations. Whereas there is a rich literature on transformation on a personal level, discussing preconditions for changes in individuals’ worldviews, choices, and behaviour, our book specifically focuses on the societal dimensions of transformation toward sustainability, and on sense-making as an interactional rather than an individual process. Improved understanding of sense-making processes across societies is important for decision-making in four ways: first, from a democratisation perspective, it can increase the transparency of private and public decision-making, as it sheds lights on the intrinsic, and often contained, personal, societal, and political preferences for certain transformation pathways. Second, organisational problems are likely to arise if we are not aware of different actors’ understandings and if their points of view collide. Third, we believe that an enhanced understanding of how various transformation pathways are envisioned around the world and of what facilitates or hinders transformation in different contexts will contribute to greater transparency and ultimately effectiveness of global efforts to realise the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the ultimate goals of the Paris Agreement. Lastly, the importance of the sense-making analysis goes beyond the decisions in politics and industry, to ultimately speak to peoples’ existential deliberations of how they want to lead their life, what kind of societies they hope to be a part of, and desire for future generations (Wibeck et al., 2019). 1.4 Research on and for Sustainability Transformations In the literature on sustainability transformations, we find two broad research approaches: descriptive–analytical and solution-oriented approaches (Feola,

1.4 Research on and for Sustainability Transformations

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2015). These are respectively referred to as ‘transformation research’, which explores the preconditions and characteristics of transformation processes, and ‘transformative research’, which seeks to actively advance transformation processes (WBGU, 2011) – or, in simpler terms, research on transformations and research for transformations to sustainability. Brand (2016) distinguishes transformation as a strategic concept for advancing desired policies from transformation as an analytical concept with which to understand historic and present changes in society. These two approaches should not be seen as mutually exclusive. In fact, they are often interrelated. Social science research often takes on the roles of both critical analysis producing explanatory insights, and solution-oriented research delivering strategic knowledge and policy recommendations. While there is an intriguing literature providing growing empirical basis for research for transformations, our study taps into the descriptive–analytical research on social change with ambition to inform the solution-oriented research for sustainability transformations. What is the goal of societal transformation? For this book, this is an empirical question. When analysing sense-making among groups in different geopolitical and cultural settings, the analysis cannot start with a normatively predetermined definition of the end goal of sustainability transformations. Rather, we need to explore how various articulations reflect differences in interests and values within and between societies. Such knowledge can support a necessary mind shift for sustainability transformations. It supports governance by goal-setting by, in the words of Petra Kuenkel (2019:210, emphasis in original), allowing us to ‘move from seeing goals as desired stable future state to acknowledging the role of goals as transformation guidance’. It can empower people to identify what patterns need to change, and how and when such changes could be triggered. The research literature on societal transformations towards sustainability spans multiple disciplines and the number of peer-reviewed publications in this area is increasing. So far, this research has largely been based on case studies of particular – often locally situated – environmental areas or sectors. Chapter 5 presents a few case studies. Nevertheless, our overall aim is to broaden the scope beyond local examples of transformation initiatives. First, we want to capture how the concept is made sense of in different places around the world. Second, we want to provide a range of examples, from laypeople to high politics in different countries. Our intention is that the analyses presented here should facilitate the exploration of understandings of and priorities for societal transformations to sustainability across world regions and actor groups.

2 Sense-Making Analysis

2.1 A Dialogical Approach to Sense-Making Meanings are not fixed. Variations in how people make sense of societal transformations depend on their contexts in time and space, previous understandings, backgrounds, worldviews, and values. To understand such variations and commonalities, this book puts sense-making analysis at the core of the investigation, as it will help us explore competing and complementary narratives of societal transformations. Drawing on insights from philosophy, social psychology, and sociology, sensemaking has been a prominent concept in the fields of human–computer interaction, information science, and organisational studies since the 1970s (e.g., Dervin, 1998; Weber & Glynn, 2006; Weick et al., 2005). Sense-making is also a commonly used concept in research into science communication and public understanding of science. In particular, sense-making is often invoked, although seldom defined, in the rapidly growing field of studies of public engagement with climate change and other environmental issues (Capstick & Pidgeon, 2014; Ryghaug et al., 2011; Smith & Joffe, 2013). At first glance, ‘sense-making’ may appear a mundane concept that can be intuitively understood, but it easily falls victim to over-simplified definitions. For example, the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1989) equated ‘make sense of’ with ‘to find a meaning in’. We would argue, however, that the meanings of things or events are rarely established definitely or easily available to ‘find’ or decode. Rather, sense-making is an active process in which meanings are constructed, or even co-constructed, in interaction with people or ideas around us (Bakhtin, 1986; Linell, 2009; Marková et al., 2007). Moreover, our previous studies have demonstrated that, although people might seek coherence, sense10

2.1 A Dialogical Approach to Sense-Making

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making also concerns finding ways to cope with inconsistencies, uncertainties, and unknowns (e.g., Wibeck, 2014b; Wibeck & Linnér, 2012). This is at least partly mirrored in Wikipedia’s current description: ‘Sensemaking is the process by which people give meaning to their collective experiences’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensemaking; accessed 29 May 2019). Here, the constructivist traits of sense-making become clearer, in that the definition emphasises giving meaning to experience, not finding meaning in it. Along similar lines, the 2016 online edition of the Oxford English Dictionary explains sense-making as ‘the action or process of making sense of or giving meaning to something, esp. new developments and experiences’. Is sense-making then only about giving meaning to what we experience? Although our studies will explore whether and how narratives of transformations towards sustainability reflect personal experiences, we assume that direct experience is only part of the story. For example, when it comes to sustainability in a world being altered by climate change, the very lack of personal experience and the perceived temporal and spatial distances have long helped make climate-related issues difficult to communicate and relate to (Lorenzoni et al., 2007; Pidgeon & Fischhoff, 2011) – yet sense-making still occurs. Furthermore, the transformations envisioned in sustainability discussions are often placed in the future: they are not experienced directly, but as visions or associations. Focus group studies among laypeople have identified a variety of sense-making strategies intended to concretise and give meaning to abstract phenomena about which direct experience is lacking. Among these strategies we find, for example, the use of metaphors, analogies, distinctions, and prototypical examples (Olausson, 2011; Ryghaug et al., 2011; Wibeck, 2014b; Wibeck et al., 2015). In addition, earlier studies have demonstrated that we often tend to be selective in registering and communicating certain aspects of phenomena, while downplaying others. Such framing processes have proved important for sense-making (e.g., Asplund, 2014; Ryghaug et al., 2011; Wibeck & Linnér, 2012). These brief examples already touch on some of the core features of how we conceptualise sense-making. First, we take sense-making to denote the cognitive and communicative processes through which humans understand, describe, and relate to phenomena. Sense-making does not occur in a vacuum, but, how we use language, in what contexts and in interaction with whom and what, has crucial impact on how meanings are shaped (Harré et al., 1999). In line with this, we regard sense-making not as occurring mainly through cognitive processes in the minds of individuals, but rather in dialogue with the surrounding world, for example, in everyday conversations, knowledge brokering, media representations, and policy debates.

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Sense-Making Analysis

Second, sense-making occurs through interactions on at least three different levels. Ivana Marková et al. (2007) described three types of sense-making interaction: (a) between actors involved in conversations in specific communicative situations; (b) between standpoints, arguments, and ideas expressed by the actors involved in spoken or written communication; and (c) within discourses or communicative genres, that is, ‘ways and traditions of talking about the issue’, when actors involved in communication draw on broader ‘sociocultural traditions’ (Marková et al., 2007:133). For our sense-making analysis, this three-level view of interaction entails taking into account both views that are more easily changed and depend on the situation, such as views expressed by participants in a focus-group setting, which may shift and be reformulated throughout the conversation, and deeper-seated, often implicit, assumptions or value premises that change only slowly. Our approach will allow us to observe sense-making that occurs as a result of the first and second levels of interaction, for example, when focus group participants are trying out and negotiating arguments, or when a news article balances ideas and arguments from actors on different sides of a debate. We will also pay attention to ‘the more deepseated, unquestioned (seldom verbalized), wide-spread (background) assumptions of a culture’ (Linell, 2001:166), which are ‘relatively stabilized across generations and cultures’ (Marková, 1996:180). Such assumptions may form the basis of arguments expressed in focus groups or media texts, which we will explore in Chapter 4. They may also be expressed, for example, through policy narratives – also explored in Chapters 4 and 7 (van Eeten, 2007) – or in researchers’ narratives of historical events (Cronon, 1992), to which we will turn in the next chapter. The transformative role of narratives is increasingly recognised also in policymaking. In fact, Switzerland specifically refers to sustainability transformations as a narrative in its voluntary national report to their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN, 2016a). Third, we argue that a comprehensive sense-making analysis should not decouple the ‘what’ from the ‘how’ of meaning construction. We maintain that, to understand the content of actors’ views, it is also important to gain insight into the communicative processes and linguistic resources through which these views are expressed and negotiated. Our main focus will therefore neither be on communicative processes alone, nor on merely analysing the perceptions of different actors. Rather, both these types of analyses are needed. In combining different types of empirical data, as well as different analytical approaches, this book offers a broad exploration of the views of societal transformations and sustainability that different actors express, and of how these views are shaped, using what communicative resources and with what implications.

2.2 Sense-Making in Action: Narrative, Framing, Categorisation, and Metaphor

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2.2 Sense-Making in Action: Narrative, Framing, Categorisation, and Metaphor Concepts such as transformation and sustainability can appear abstract and ‘fuzzy’, as they have been interpreted in a wide variety of ways from many divergent standpoints, and invite personal stories about how society has changed and should change, and of the various futures people may want. We are therefore particularly interested in exploring both the content of discussions about societal transformations as well as the communicative resources that people use to bring order and structure to these potentially messy ideas about the past, present, and future. We pay attention to how actors depict their own and others’ agency, and we explore background assumptions and underlying narratives structuring the different arguments. In the following, we discuss four types of sense-making resources that are key to understanding how meanings are shaped: narratives, framing, categorisation, and metaphors (Goffman, 1974; Harré et al., 1999; Labov, 1972; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). These resources are interconnected and have similar functions: to help us sort, order, include, and exclude what is seen as relevant about a particular phenomenon. In doing so, we also at least implicitly ascribe values to the plethora of issues, events, experiences, and information that face societies and individuals. Each of these four sense-making resources provides a different, yet complementary, lens with which to explore sense-making.

2.2.1 Narratives Narratives are the fundamental structures of stories. We organise our experiences, our perceptions of the past, present, and future into series of events that are chronologically organised into a beginning, middle, and end, in which the various events are causally related, one thing leading to another, and in which actors typically assume designated roles (Cronon, 1992; Harré et al., 1999; Labov, 1972). Typical examples of stories displaying this basic structure are found among many folktales, novels, plays, and movie scripts. Harré et al. (1999) illustrated how the main components of such stories are often reflected in environmental storytelling. However, narrative is not only about selecting, chronologically ordering, and causally relating events to each other. Through stories, we position ourselves and other actors as moral subjects, and ascribe values and meanings to events (Cronon, 1992; Goffman, 1981). Stories do not simply emerge in a void, but take their points of departure in particular ways of seeing the world. Stories thus say something about the cultural, political, and ethical contexts in which the narrator is positioned

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(Harré et al., 1999; Hydén & Hydén, 1997; Linnér, 2005). The selection of events incorporated into the narrative, the order in which events are related, and, perhaps most importantly, how the story ends are crucial in passing moral judgements, via narrative, on the past, present, and future (cf. Cronon, 1992). As stories in novels, plays, movies and conversations ‘are told to make a point, to transmit a message – often some sort of moral evaluation or implied critical judgment – about the world the teller shares with other people’ (Polanyi, 1985:12), so are the narratives of transformation. From a collection of such individual narratives, expressed in talk or text, analysts can identify larger ‘societal narratives’ at a more aggregate level, that is, lines of argument recurring in multiple ‘little stories’ (Dicke, 2001:10; van Eeten, 2007: 253). How can we identify the narratives of transformation? An obvious way is to look for the classic chronological structure of causally organised series of events. However, we can also pay attention to linguistic resources underpinning narratives, such as framing, metaphors, analogies, and distinctions. To borrow a term from the world of music and literature, such elements recurrently expressed in individual stories may form leitmotifs in the data (Linnér, 2005), that is, ‘a theme throughout the narrative, the narrative underneath the narrative’ (Vloet, 2009:73). These linguistic elements can function in the way recurring musical themes, for example, in the compositions of Richard Wagner and Star Wars composer John Williams, are used to guide our interpretations of the plot and characters in the story. Our analysis of core narratives in Chapter 6 will particularly pay attention to metaphors. They provide associations through which people understand and relate to transformation narratives. Moreover, as we will discuss later, metaphors are used to make sense of complex issues as well as new phenomena or states of affairs. Beyond the descriptive–analytical approaches already described, the significance of narrative for action has also been considered by scholars and activists arguing that we need to be guided by new, green narratives instead of the traditional liberal economic or new populist ones. We return to the normative use of narratives in the final chapter. 2.2.2 Frames and Framing Frames and framing are other crucial concepts in communication theory (Linell, 1998). These concepts are frequently used in analysing environmental communication in general (Hansen & Doyle, 2011; Lakoff, 2010) and climate change communication in particular (e.g., Asplund, 2014; Boykoff, 2007; Nisbet & Scheufele, 2009). According to Erving Goffman’s (1974) seminal book Frame Analysis, the framing concept is used to describe processes of

2.2 Sense-Making in Action: Narrative, Framing, Categorisation, and Metaphor

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establishing, maintaining, and negotiating meanings. In analysing how individuals cognitively organise their experiences to make sense of situations they encounter (Baptista, 2003), Goffman demonstrated how cultural beliefs and world views influence meaning-making, by forming lenses through which meaning is shaped (Nisbet, 2009). When we frame something, such as sustainability, we highlight certain aspects of the concept while simultaneously hiding or downplaying others. To use the metaphor of a picture frame, some aspects fall inside and other aspects fall outside the frame. The frame defines what is at stake, what caused a particular event, and what actors are seen as responsible for taking action (Entman, 1993; Gamson & Modigliani, 1987; Koteyko et al., 2010; Nisbet, 2009). In other words, frames influence how an issue is understood and interpreted (Berinsky & Kinder, 2006; Boykoff, 2007; Nisbet, 2009; Scheufele & Tewksbury, 2007). In this book, we pay particular attention to how frames are articulated through communicative resources such as presence or absence of keywords, metaphors, and certain stock phrases (Entman, 1993). Our analyses of framing involve analysing the function of leitmotifs in narratives, allowing us to scrutinise how narratives of transformation are constructed. 2.2.3 Categorisation: Analogies and Distinctions To make sense of new, unfamiliar, abstract or complex phenomena, we need to engage in sorting, categorisation, and particularisation activities (Billig, 1996), which entail comparing a phenomenon with something more familiar. This exercise might lead us to categorise the new into a well-known or general category, for example, through using analogies, or we might conclude that the new phenomenon differs from other phenomena, that is, we particularise it using distinctions (Billig, 1996; Marková et al., 2007). Analogies are basically expressed as ‘X is similar to Y’, with ‘X’ being the new phenomenon; distinctions, in contrast, express that ‘X is different from Y’. Analogies and distinctions are often used together, for example, to argue that ‘X is similar to Y with respect to aspect Z, but X is different from Y with respect to aspect W’ (Marková et al., 2007). Analysing the use of analogies and distinctions in discussions of sustainability transformations may give insight into actors’ understandings of what such transformations could entail, by providing concrete reference points. Depending on whether these reference points have positive or negative connotations, actors may also use analogies and distinctions to evaluate and pass judgement on different ideas related to transformation. Our analyses will seek recurrent patterns in the use of comparisons within and across the various empirical data.

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Sense-Making Analysis

Sustainability transformation analogies are mostly historical, perhaps because there are too few contemporary examples that would help in making sense of what is envisioned. There is simply little at present that suffices to capture major, systemic shifts on par with the desired transformations. Most notably, the rapid development and spread of the Internet and digital equipment is used a reference, which in itself is made analogous with the Industrial Revolution. Instead, previous transformations, such as industrialisation or a poor country’s move from low- to middle-income status, often assist in the sense-making. It is also here that distinctions become useful. The argument often goes: we need similar transformations today, but with the addition of sustainable development considerations. 2.2.4 Metaphors Metaphors are commonly used in environmental and sustainability discourse (e.g., Asplund, 2011; Bell, 2005; Harré et al., 1999; Mühlhäusler & Peace, 2006; Philippon, 2005; Princen, 2010; Wibeck, 2012, 2014b). Similar to analogies, metaphors allow us to see and understand new things in terms of other, more familiar things (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Nerlich & Jaspal, 2012). Metaphors are ‘highly useful devices in the business of helping people make sense of new states of affairs’ (Harré et al., 1999:101), that is, they are key sense-making resources that powerfully affect people’s thinking and action (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Princen, 2010). Using metaphorical language is not only a matter of making one’s utterances or texts more ‘poetic’, as metaphors are often seen as having a constitutive function. When one conceptual entity is used as a vehicle to make sense of another, this process does not merely transfer unchanged meanings between contexts, but may give birth to entirely new meanings (Wee, 2005). Metaphors alter the new context into which they are inserted, as metaphors bring with them various epistemic, political, and moral associations (Maasen & Weingart, 2000). Through living metaphors, language can be renewed and thereby provide new conditions for understanding the world. Living metaphors thus provide a glimpse of epistemological change (Ricœur, 1976, 1978). Metaphors may have implications not only for how people perceive their surrounding world, but also ultimately for how they act within it. As Brigitte Nerlich and Rusi Jaspal (2012:133) observed, ‘Metaphors are the mind’s eyes and society’s tools. They provide us with visions of the world and instruments to change it.’ However, metaphors are perhaps even more powerful when they are not used as intentional rhetorical tools, but when they become taken-for-granted expressions used in everyday language without people even realising their metaphorical origins. When metaphorical expressions are reiterated in numerous contexts,

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people eventually cease to take notice of them and they shift from being active to inactive metaphors (Goatly, 2011), or into ‘stale’ and finally ‘dead’ metaphors (Chettiparamb, 2006). One example is the market metaphor in Karl Polanyi’s (1944) The Great Transformation, to which we will return in the next chapter. Polanyi uses the stale metaphor of the market, bringing new meanings to life by counterintuitively giving agency to an abstract phenomenon. In Polanyi’s analysis, it is no longer the people at a market square organising their economic exchanges, but the institution itself that has become the actor. It is no longer people regulating the market, but the market regulating people. So, metaphors are not only an important meaning-making resource by creating new connotations through obvious clashes of words, but also stale and even dead metaphors give important insights into what is taken for granted in particular discourses and cultures. This is particularly interesting when analysing concepts that seek to capture disruptions in societies.

2.3 Sites for Sense-Making on Societal Transformations If we want to scrutinise people’s imaginings about sustainability transformations, we not only need to compare different places in the world, but must also use various methods to capture how sense-making takes place. We accordingly use mixed methods (cf. Bryman, 2006) to explore variations as well as commonalities in sense-making across actor groups, communicative genres, and countries. Analyses of research literature, policy documents, and international media texts give a broad context for the variety of sense-makings regarding transformations. These studies explore how societal transformations towards sustainability have been made sense of over time and in different parts of the world. Focus groups provide insights into lay understandings of transformations, as well as in-depth analysis of sense-making in action.

2.4 Empirical Foundations of the Study 2.4.1 Peer-Reviewed Research Literature To gain an overview of how the concept of societal transformations towards sustainability has been employed in the scientific peer-reviewed literature, we conducted a comprehensive search in the Scopus database. The search covered articles, reviews, book chapters, and books published in English up to 2016. We searched the titles, abstracts, and keywords using the following search string: TITLE-ABS-KEY ( ( societ* W/15 transform* ) AND NOT ( © PRE/10 societ* ) ). From this database search, we mapped the frequency and distribution over time of

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the transformation concept in the peer-reviewed literature. Using the analysis function embedded in Scopus, we extracted information about the identified papers’ subject area classifications and geographical origins. We also analysed the most frequently used terms –called ‘key words’ in our analysis – in the identified publications between 1970 and 2016, generating maps of how these keywords clustered in three time periods using VOSviewer visualisation software (www.vosviewer.com). 2.4.2 Policy Documents Policy documents were examined to analyse how the transformation concept has been used officially in national and international climate discourse. To that end, we analysed documents from the UN on the SDGs and the Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as policy documents from the case studies. A more systematic discussion of national priorities was made possible by our analysis of all 162 Intended and Decided Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement, submitted at the time of our analysis, which represent 190 parties, as well as the background documents to which they refer when addressing transformation. In addition, we analysed the sixty-five Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of the SDGs submitted in 2016 and 2017. The intended and decided NDCs and the VNRs were analysed and coded using NVivo software; they were categorised according to the types of transformation actions and the actors highlighted. We analysed all documents using any stems of the word ‘transform’; we also compared these documents with those identified using the concept of transition. 2.4.3 International Media To identify media texts, we used the Retriever database, which contains items from the international mass media, mostly in the English language. We first searched the database for articles on transformation and sustainability from 1 January 2007 through 31 December 2016, using the search string transformation* AND sustainab* (158,046 hits). After this initial search, we updated the search for 2017 and 2018, obtaining an additional 52,440 hits. We also narrowed the search within the same time periods by homing in on articles specifically mentioning social or societal transformations, using the search string ‘soci* transformation*’ AND sustainab*, obtaining 2,148 hits for 2007–2016 and another 626 hits for 2017–2018. To get an overview of the dominant frames, we mapped the most frequent words in these articles using NVivo software.

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As a reference point for analysing the most frequent words in the articles on social or societal transformation and sustainability, we conducted two limited searches of sample documents. The first one used the search string transformation* AND sustainab* for media texts published on World Environment Day (5 June) in 2015, 2016, and 2017. The second one examined articles with an explicit focus on climate change, employing the search string transformation* AND sustainab* AND ‘climate change’ for articles published during the UN climate negotiations in Marrakech, 7–18 November 2016 (Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [COP] 22). Thereafter we concentrated on the articles that explicitly treated societal transformations and sustainability, using the search string ‘societal transformation*’ AND sustainab* (171 hits for the ten-year period 2007–2016). After excluding repeated articles that had been published in multiple news outlets and those that at a closer reading proved to be outside the scope of our analysis, for example, mentioning our search words only in passing, left us with forty-eight unique articles. These were categorised according to thirteen dimensions: (1) country context, (2) type of article, (3) main focus, (4) root causes of unsustainability, (5) patterns of change (e.g., pace, trends, and thresholds), (6) goals, (7) target populations (e.g., international, domestic, and local winners and losers), (8) temporal dimensions (i.e., long-term or event-based transformations), (9) management (i.e., inventing or tagging transformations), (10) scope (i.e., comprehensive or sectoral), (11) drivers, (12) agents, and (13) other (e.g., metaphors). 2.4.4 Lay Sense-Making We explored laypeople’s sense-making through focus group discussions in the format of semi-structured, moderator-led group conversations (Barbour, 2007; Hennink, 2014; Morgan, 2012; Wibeck et al., 2007). In collaboration with local partners, four focus groups of laypeople were conducted in each of the five case study sites, i.e., Cabo Verde, Guangzhou (China), Fiji, Boulder (CO, USA), and Östergötland (Sweden). The results of the focus group study have been more extensively reported elsewhere (Wibeck et al., 2019). Following the methodological literature on qualitative research design, a purposive sample of focus group participants was recruited (Morgan, 1997; Ritchie et al., 2003; Teddlie & Yu, 2007). Purposive sampling means selecting cases and participants that ‘enable detailed exploration and understanding of the central themes and puzzles which the researcher wishes to study’ (Ritchie & et al., 2003:78). In each case study country, varied focus groups were recruited to generate a broad ‘map of opinions’ from diverse sociocultural contexts. Nonetheless, in

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accordance with recommendations in the international focus group literature, most focus groups were homogenous in at least one key respect, such as age and/or place of residence. The reason for such partial homogeneity in group composition is obviously not to draw inferences about, for example, age-related variations in opinions, which would be impossible from such a limited sample, but to create conducive conditions for helping participants to feel at ease and share their views and experiences with others with whom they have something in common (Hydén & Bülow, 2003; Morgan, 2012). The focus group study does not seek to generate generalisable information about the spread of different perceptions among segments of the public in the countries where the case studies were conducted, nor does it give a full account of all potential cultural and contextual factors that may explain the results. What the study does offer is in-depth exploration of pathways used by study participants in different locations to create meaning regarding societal transformations towards sustainability. During the focus group sessions, participants were asked to discuss broadly the kind of society they want for 2050, their views of what constitutes a desirable society, pathways and actions to achieve this goal, and their reactions to each other’s ideas of societal transformations towards sustainability. They were also asked more specifically to reflect on how they think climate change can be most effectively addressed. The focus group discussions were audio recorded and transcribed in their entirety. To provide an overview of the content of the discussions, we conducted a thematic content analysis in which the data were segmented, coded, and categorised, and recurrent themes identified (Krueger, 1998). We also looked for analogies, metaphors, and personal stories in the focus group discussions. 2.5 Variations and Commonalities in Sense-Making on Sustainability Transformations After scrutinising each type of data vertically, we conducted a horizontal analysis across all the empirical material. We employed the analytical framework generated from the analysis of earlier transformation literature discussed in Chapter 3, which focuses on the following categories: (1) scale, (2) pace, (3) drivers, (4) agents, (5) scope: mega or particular transformations, and (6) periodisations. In addition, we explored how different ways of making sense of societal transformations towards sustainability, within and across the four contexts, may be interpreted as expressions of deeper-seated core narratives. These are discussed in Chapter 6. In our readings of key policy documents – in particular the UN 2030 Agenda and its preparatory work, VNRs of the SDGs and the NDCs to the Paris

2.6 Rationale for the Selection of Empirical Data and Case Studies

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Agreement – we identified five dominant narratives each contributing in a different way to sense-making regarding how societal transformations can be conceived. We see each of these narratives as organised around a few key metaphors that act as leitmotifs: transformation as a journey, a building process, a war, co-creation, and recuperation. After mapping these in the policy documents, we ran a search for these and related metaphors in the media and focus group material to further explore how these narratives play out across our different data sets. Our analysis demonstrates both how the narratives and metaphors were expressed in our empirical data and how they were linked to the broader literature (cf. Carew & Mitchell, 2006). 2.6 Rationale for the Selection of Empirical Data and Case Studies In advance of the Paris climate negotiations, the need for societal transformations was officially acknowledged by governing bodies in all the case study countries, but through different means and to partly different ends. These countries are geographically, economically, and culturally diverse, and will therefore generate a broad basis for exploring variations as well as commonalities in sense-making, enhancing our knowledge of sense-making in different contexts. Through a policy literature review and initial analysis of Intended NDCs to the Paris negotiations, we identified several low- and middle-income countries that exemplify interesting differences in how sustainability transformations are described. Based on this inventory, we chose to focus our case studies on Cabo Verde, Fiji, and Guangzhou in the Pearl River Delta in China as examples of locations that (a) have a high degree of vulnerability to environmental change, (b) have recently experienced speedy societal and/or economic changes, and (c) where the need for sustainability transformations is emphasised in key policy documents. The city of Boulder in the USA and the region of Östergötland in Sweden provide examples of places in high-income countries, which display profound differences in terms of geopolitical position and political culture. Before we explore sense-making in these international contexts, in the next chapter we turn to general theories of transformation and several examples of how previous large-scale societal changes have been framed as transformations.

3 How Societies Change Theories of Transformation

How can we achieve transformations towards sustainability? One way in which many authors, analysts, and advocates make sense of sustainability transformations is through making analogies with previous transformations. Nicholas Stern, perhaps the best-known climate economist, has called for a ‘low-carbon industrial revolution’ (Stern, 2010:1). Peter Pearson and Timothy Foxon (2012) looked to the economic and technological implications of the Industrial Revolution to derive lessons learned and inspiration for addressing the challenges of sustainability transformations (Pearson & Foxon, 2012:117). Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner (2012) argued that only two historical macro-transformations are comparable to the magnitude of the great transformation needed to achieve a global lowcarbon economy: the Neolithic Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Frances Westley et al. (2011) cited the Industrial Revolution, Green Revolution, and Internet Revolution in discussing pathways to sustainability transformations today. With such analogies, it becomes crucial to look at what was actually transformed in these historical events, how and by what agents, and how these historical chains of events apply to today’s call for transformations. There are many theories of social change. Here, we focus on writers who use the concept of transformation when discussing societal change. In this chapter, we present discussions of two forms of transformation: macrotransformations, involving whole civilisations, and particular transformations, referring to profound changes of particular segments of socio-economic or sociotechnical systems. First, we outline examples of macro-transformations. We start with the Neolithic Revolution when humankind turned to agriculture. We will then present three ways in which authors make sense of the great overarching European revolution that reshaped much of the world during the second half of the last millennium, including the Industrial Revolution, modernisation, and self-regulating markets, which changed the international distribution of power. We will also briefly discuss what is now framed as a New Industrial Revolution: the rapid and interlinked shifts in the 22

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digital, physical, and biological spheres. We will then turn to two particular societal changes – automobility in cities and the abolition of slavery – that have not only been framed as transformations, but also used as analogies for the needed responses to today’s sustainability challenges. The example of automobility in cities serves as a brief and relatively straightforward illustration of how solutions to complex problems are seldom simple, and of the importance of approaching societal transformations through a multifaceted analytical framework capable of taking social, cultural, economic, environmental, technological, and political aspects into account. The abolition of slavery presents a more complex example that may spur discussion of drivers, actors, governance, and the role of values in societal transformations. For this reason, we will analyse how scholars have made sense of the abolition of slavery in more detail. 3.1 Historical Transformations In the literature, there are two broad usages of the social transformation concept. One falls outside the scope of this book, referring to processes by which an individual changes his or her values, world views, or socially acquired position or status, for example, through social reproduction and mobility, while another refers to large-scale social system change. The latter can be divided into one strand that analyses civilisation-scale transformations, studying the rise and fall of entire cultures or civilisations in specific places and times, and another strand focuses on large-scale cultural or socio-economic changes within a civilisation. When the social transformation concept is used on the civilisation scale, it typically refers to a profound change in the features used to distinguish a cultural entity, such as the styles of art, architecture, music, drama, and literature, social and political organisation, philosophy, religion, modes of production and consumption, and ecological conditions and relationships. The authors cited in this chapter differ not only in the specific transformations examined, but also in what they see as the distinguishing features or characteristics of these transformations and, fundamentally, in what they regard as the engines of change, leverage points, scales, and ultimate consequences of transformations. 3.1.1 Collapse or Amalgamation Several authors have emphasised the collapse component of transformations (e.g., Diamond, 2005; Tainter, 1988). Based on the demise of the Bronze Age civilisations of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East in the thirteenth and twelfth centuries BC, social anthropologists Kajsa Ekholm Friedman and Jonathan Friedman (2008), for example, suggested that transformations of civilisations

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ultimately lead to ‘collapses’. By this they mean that societies lose their socially and economically complex, intertwined, and elaborated relationships and retract to a less organised, more elementary, state of social organisation. The extermination of old and the advent of new structures continues throughout history (Friedman & Friedman, 2008). The collapse thesis is, however, challenged. If the collapse of a society is defined as the breakdown of the old order, it is not a necessary condition when societies transform. The transformation of agrarian Europe to industrial Europe was in many ways disruptive, but agrarian Europe did not collapse to make room for the transformation, but rather co-existed in terms of cultural features for a long time. In what has been labelled ‘industrial’ society, there is no real dichotomy between ‘industrial’ and ‘agrarian’, as farming has become more industrial in the sense of using technology to relieve human labour. The alternative to the collapse framing is to see transformations as producing amalgams between old and new social orders. ‘These “contradictory fusions” make clear that historical development is not linear or sequential, but jumbled and, often, compressed’ (Buzan & Lawson, 2015:20). The constant tension between societies with different geographical and historical developmental paths has been a factor driving global transformations throughout history. It is a multilinear and multifarious developmental process between areas that compete with, trade with, suppress, and copy one another. It is a process in which stronger societies enforce their social orders on weaker ones and in which those deeming themselves disadvantaged try to keep up with those considered more advantaged. Based on twelve historical cases of societies under stress, Karl Butzer and Georgina Endfield (2012:3630) polemicised against what they saw as the collapse focus in studies of past transformations from an environmental perspective, claiming that ‘collapse is not an inevitable result of transformations’. Butzer (2012) moreover found that collapse is multicausal and rarely abrupt in historical transformations. The literature of collapse has undervalued the complex interaction between environmental, political, and socio-cultural resilience that, according to Butzer (2012), has averted collapses by reconstructing societies. In times of major transformation, the degree of amalgamation is heightened through technological and social innovations. According to Justin Rosenberg (2010), avoiding the tautological definition of social innovation as ‘social in its end and in its means’, Franz et al. (2012:4) define it as ‘intentional, meant to change something in what people do alone or together to the better, at least as they perceive it’. That is, it concerns new social practices and institutions of, for example, economic transitions, working conditions, education, family and community organisation, consumption, and health practices. ‘The intentionality of social

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innovation is what distinguishes it from social change. Social change just happens’ (Franz et al., 2012:4). 3.1.2 Scale Societal transformations can be identified at the local, national, regional, and global scales that may interact over time. For example, the Neolithic agrarian transformations had distinct centres from which they originated and spread geographically at different speeds depending on how favourable circumstances were in terms of soil, climate, and social conditions. People in different places experienced the agrarian transformation at different times and under different situations. Buzan and Lawson (2015:1) argued that a global transformation took place during the nineteenth century with the shift from a ‘polycentric world with no dominant centre’ to a ‘core–periphery’ world order with a global centre in the West. A similar argument is at the very core of the world system and dependency theories, which, however, place the fundamental shift in the world economy in the sixteenth century (Frank & Gills, 1993). Productivity gains, population growth, the growth of complex social orders, and new technological capacities led to enhanced military, political, economic, and cultural interconnections with both neighbouring and more distant communities. As interaction intensified between functionally differentiated societies, ‘late developers could not escape the influence of earlier adopters. Unevenness and combination were mutually constitutive and mutually reinforcing features of macrohistorical transformations’ (Buzan & Lawson, 2015:21). Macro-transformations, such as the agrarian transformation, can if they succeed give a competitive edge to the places where they first occur. According to Buzan and Lawson (2015), these macro-transformations unleashed new resources that spurred increases in population and productive capacity and created new sources of wealth and power, reinforcing competitive advantages vis-à-vis other societies. As we shall see in the next section, other scholars have argued that the causality is reversed: population growth is the engine of change, impelling innovations. Nevertheless, it is important to identify the dynamics beween scales and geographies. 3.1.3 Drivers of Change What drives societal transformations? The answer depends not only on which particular historical transformations we focus, but on what we see as their defining features and how they can be influenced. In one of the first megatransformations, which occurred around 6,000 years ago, cities grew, citystates formed, and out of them empires eventually arose. Was city- and state-

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building the major feature of the transformation? If so, what was the driver of this change? The invention of agriculture has often been highlighted as one such driver (Buzan & Lawson, 2015). Other analysts have argued that it was population growth and massing that drove innovations in agriculture and societal organisation (Boserup, 1965). If so, agriculture, like the formation of cities, was a feature of a transformation brought on by the same initial driver: population growth. The two ways to make sense of the change are captured in two frequent synonyms for the Neolithic Revolution that signal two different narratives – that is, the Agrarian Revolution and the Neolithic Demographic Transition. The Agrarian Revolution also signals another transformation: the pastoralism evolving among steppe people around 4,000 years ago, which involved another type of agrarian transformation based on animal herding combined with nomadic lifestyles. In the period between 1400 and 1900, Europe underwent a major transformation – or several, depending on how we define transformations and interpret historical developments. At the onset of the Great European Transformation, China was, arguably, still the largest and most developed nation. In 1820, its economic estimated production equalled that of Europe, including Russia (Polanyi Levitt, 2013; Pomeranz, 2000). Something changed dramatically, not just in economic exchange in Europe, but in the very economic and geopolitical world order, making Europe the epicentre of world affairs and drastically changing the way we live our lives. Buzan and Lawson (2015) characterised this transformation as driven by three interwoven phenomena: industrialisation, the rational state, and ideologies of progress. This list is far from complete according to other analysts. Some scholars claim that to leave out capitalism or the discovery of new untapped natural resources as drivers of this process, for example, would be to miss the most fundamental driver (e.g., Pomeranz, 2000; Worster, 2016). Butzer (2012) saw the transformations in Western Europe between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries as cases of looming environmental crises being averted by socio-technical innovations. Environmental historian Donald Worster (2016), on the other hand, pointed out that these innovations were only part of the story: the real driver was access to previously unimagined vast natural abundance that followed the discovery of the Americas, and the mass migration of people and mustering of capital and technology to exploit this new abundance. The discovery of the ‘Second Earth’ (Worster, 2016:13) induced revolutions in economic relationships, commerce and capital accumulation, food availability, geopolitical relationships between nations (in both Europe and Asia), social organisation, culture, and especially science and the related technology.

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3.1.4 Scope: Mega and Particular Transformations To Buzan and Lawson, the transformation of the nineteenth century is analogous to the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, which started about 12,000 years ago, but differed in being more multilinear, producing ‘larger, more complex social orders bound together in denser, more independent ways . . . The global transformation has been compressed into a compact time span, with major changes happening on a scale of decades rather than centuries’ (Buzan & Lawson, 2015:23). They labelled these cases major or macro-transformations that implied fundamental, large-scale changes in both social orders and social organisations. But transformation scholars do not only concern such civilisation-scale processes of change, but also theorise transformation through analogies with change in more particular socio-economic or socio-technical segments of society, such as abolition of slavery and automobilisation, which we discuss later in this chapter.

3.1.5 Periodisations When does a transformation start and when does it end? When does a transformation mark such a fundamental change that we enter an era with another name? All major changes framed as transformations have spurred academic debate on periodisation, generating fierce debates about turning points, whether the process towards junctures of change is cumulative or disruptive, as well as what drives the chain of events (Osterhammel, 2014:45–76). Most importantly, periodisation is not simply descriptive, but rests on theories as to what drives change over time. The answer to the question of when the Great European Transformation started and ended depends on what we see as its primary elements – what we frame as its major defining changes and outcomes. The dates when the changes are said to have started range from the thirteenth-century scientific discoveries emanating from Roger Bacon’s empiricism and early agricultural improvements, to 1789, which saw the French Revolution as well as the construction of the first modern factory system in Lancaster. According to historian Eric Hobsbawm (1962:1), the revolutionary events that spread throughout the world from the rival states of France and Great Britain triggered ‘the greatest transformation in human history since the remote times when men invented agriculture and metallurgy, writing, the city and the state’. Although Hobsbawm chose the 1848 publication of The Communist Manifesto as a symbolic end point of this period, it is a revolution that in his view continues to transform the whole world to this day. A differing view is espoused by Kari Polanyi Levitt (2013). She identified three ‘global eruptions’ since Columbus set sail to find a new sea route to China, three

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periods of capitalist expansion crucial not only for the transformation of Europe, but ultimately underlying the present globalisation order: first, the mercantilist era from 1500 to 1800; second, the world economic transformation of the nineteenth century, which crumbled due to the upheavals of the First World War and the depression of the 1930s; and, third, neoliberal globalisation, which has particularly penetrated the developing world in the post-war period. The Great European Transformation illustrates the many ways we can make sense of transformation. In the following, we outline three major ways the transformation concept has been used to make sense of the major upheaval that formed not only Europe, but, by extension, most parts of the world, emphasising industrialisation, modernisation, and the unregulated market. They do not constitute a complete list of explanations, but are three illustrative ways to make sense of transformations, especially as they all, in different ways, have been used in discussing today’s sustainability challenges and calls for transformation. 3.2 The Industrial Revolution When framing the Great European Transformation, the emphasis frequently centres on one of the most visible phenomena of the last four centuries: industrialisation. Whether in history books or climate negotiations, industrialisation often forms the starting point from which to capture and measure societal change. For example, the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation (2019:63) writes that the transformations needed to bring about the low-carbon society ‘could affect prosperity, employment, and social organization as much as the first Industrial Revolution’. Pearson and Foxon (2012) discuss how lessons learned from previous technological and economic transformation can guide transformational efforts today. Not only are the old and new transformations comparable in terms of the scale of changes in technologies, institutions, and practices needed to achieve a steep and lasting reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; the analogy also signals productivity gains and economic benefits similar to those of the past industrial revolutions. Pearson and Foxon (2012), among other analysts, explained the appeal of the idea of a ‘new low-carbon industrial revolution’ (Allen, 2009; Mokyr, 2009; Wrigley, 1988) in terms of the analogy’s ‘recognition that previous revolutions not only involved new technologies supplementing and eventually displacing incumbent, less economically efficient technologies and fuels but also resulted in a continuing and widening stream of innovations and productivity improvements over many decades’ (Pearson & Foxon, 2012:117). Thinkers of the time also grappled with how to characterise and understand the changes occurring around them in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth

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centuries. The term ‘industrial revolution’ is itself an analogy first used in France around 1800, referring to both the French political revolution and rapid factorybased industrialisation. French analysts in the early nineteenth century saw the concept of ‘industrial revolution’ as uniting two enunciations of the same spirit of breaking with the constraints of traditional society, understanding how the two events coincided and broadening the concept of revolution to encompass religion, politics, industry, and morals (Bezanson, 1922). The metaphor of revolution has been used to describe sudden transformations ever since. For example, Hobsbawm concluded in his seminal book The Age of Revolution 1789 to 1848 that ‘if the sudden, qualitative and fundamental transformation, which happened in or about the 1780s, was not a revolution then the word has no commonsense meaning’ (Hobsbawm, 1962:46). Historian Carlo Cipolla (1976) identified two dramatic shifts that have altered the course of history, both described as revolutions or as complete transformations of human existence: the Industrial and the Neolithic revolutions. Other changes called revolutions are, in Cipolla’s view, merely abuses of the concept of revolution, as they just entailed radical change. The late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century transformation of the mode of production was characterised by a wide-ranging division of labour, organisation in factories, and energy-intensive machinery innovations, such as the steam engine, new spinning and weaving technologies, and cotton mills, powered first by charcoal, but increasingly by fossil coal. Social, political, ideological, institutional, and technological changes spurred and sustained continued mechanistic development, urbanisation, and changes in the social order. These changes led to a drop in the cost of energy services as well as gains in terms of higher productivity, improved quality of goods, and, eventually, reduced prices of consumer goods (Pearson & Foxon, 2012). Although largely similar to the Agrarian Revolution in its multilinear characteristics, the industrial transformation differs in one core feature: it is compressed in time, with fundamental changes occurring on the scale of decades rather than centuries. Contemporary and early thinkers about the Great European Transformation have described the distinguishing features of this transformation in terms of polarities, the movement from one societal order to a contrasting new one: from ‘militant’ to ‘industrial’ society (Henri de Saint Simon), from ‘community’ (Gesellschaft) to ‘association’ (Ferdinand Tönnies), from ‘mechanical solidarity’ to ‘organic’ social integration (Émile Durkheim), from ‘traditional’ to ‘legal–rational’ authority (Max Weber), and from ‘feudal’ to ‘capitalist’ (Karl Marx) (Kumar, 1978:59). Nicholas Crafts (2010) and Pearson and Foxon (2012) have identified two more recent traditions in explaining the Industrial Revolution. While both these schools emphasise sustained technological progress as the essence of the Industrial

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Revolution, they offer different reasons for why this progress happened. One strand, exemplified by Robert Allen (2009), emphasises that the new technologies were mostly invented and diffused in Great Britain as that is where they were profitable, much more so than in other European countries. Another explanation, provided by Joel Mokyr (2009), is that ideas, primarily Enlightenment ones, provided fertile ground for the social change needed to spur the development, diffusion, and deployment of new technologies. Allen (2009) noted how the Black Death brought on demographic, economic, and agriculture changes in the fourteenth century, sparking an agricultural revolution that resulted in greater farm productivity. This higher output in turn led to weaker demand for farm labourers, who then became available for the cotton industries that arose as a result of the growing exports of light worsted woollen cloth to Europe. Increased wages and the growing urban-based commercial economy created a strong British economy, which a few centuries later would drive industrial development. The positive feedbacks created were particularly suited to the contemporary socio-economic conditions. For example, the greater agricultural productivity pushed people into towns, while this urbanisation in turn created a demand for higher agricultural output (Allen, 2009). For example, the population of London grew from 50,000 in year 1500 to 1 million 300 years later. Allen (2009:131) pointedly stated that the British economic conditions underlying the Industrial Revolution were ‘due to long-haired sheep, cheap coal and the imperial foreign policy that secured a rising volume of trade’. By the eighteenth century, wages were higher and energy costs lower in Britain than in other European countries. In short, the technological advances occurred in Britain because it was there that they paid off, according to Allen. Although other factors played a role, such as increased scientific knowledge, they would not have been enough to impel the development. Rather, Allen (2009) argues that the pull of increased demand was the primary engine driving the Industrial Revolution. A contrasting view identifies the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment as the prime drivers of the Industrial Revolution. For example, while Mokyr (2009:116) acknowledged the importance of other factors, such as the favourable proximity to energy sources and the evolution of the British middle class, the primary cause of the Industrial Revolution ‘was the right combination of useful knowledge generated by scientists, engineers and inventors to be exploited by a supply of skilled craftsmen in an institutional environment that produced the correct incentives for entrepreneurs’. Mokyr also referred to de Vries’ (1994) supposition of an ‘Industrious Revolution’ that preceded the industrial one, in which people were increasingly willing or persuaded to work longer hours and for monetary wages rather than in subsistence farming. The incentive was that the markets increasingly provided goods that they desired and that required money for

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their purchase. A ‘cocktail’ of new ideas and changed preferences became the prime mover of the Industrial Revolution. In essence, while the first school emphasised the demand side of the economy as the prime mover, the second stressed the social supply side (Pearson & Foxon, 2012). Historian Ian Morris (2010) has argued for the importance of ‘energy capture’ in driving societal change throughout history. The invention and improvement of the steam engine was to Morris (2010:497) ‘the biggest and fastest transformation in the entire history of the world’. In three generations, the total power of installed steam engines had reached 4 million horsepower, equalling the power of 40 million humans. The food these additional workers would have required would have represented three times the wheat output of Britain. According to Morris (2010), this was the most fundamental driver of the transformation, creating what he calls ‘the Western age’, which has lasted until the current global shift towards the emerging economies. Regardless of what is the primary driver, industrialisation was not only about inventions and a new organisation of production. The Great European Transformation was in many ways ‘capital-intensive, energy-intensive and land-gobbling’, in the words of Kenneth Pomeranz (2000:207). It required capital, because it rested on technologies that intensified productivity but demanded investments in terms of finance, buildings, and machinery. New financing arrangements arose from the commercial arrangements of the expanded international trade and imperialistic ventures of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The transformation was energy intensive and therefore required a revolution in energy access, facilitated by geographical proximity to relatively cheap coal and iron. It entailed ‘land -gobbling’, as it was based on a major expansion of imperialism to secure resources and geopolitical advantages. However, the required geographical expansion was itself made possible by the new communication technologies, such as steam-engine-powered boats and trains (Buzan & Lawson, 2015). On closer examination, the definitions of industrialisation invite further conceptual precision. For example, Hobsbawm refined his definitions of the distinguishing features of the European transformation: The great revolution of 1789–1848 was the triumph not of ‘industry’ as such but of capitalist industry; not of liberty and equality in general but of middle class or ‘bourgeois’ liberal society; not of ‘the modern economy’ or ‘the modern state’, but of the economies and states in a particular geographical region of the world. (Hobsbawm, 1962:1)

Although the geopolitical core was the rival states of Great Britain and France – the revolutionary convulsions in these countries encapsulate the overall transformation – from there it propagated across the globe. Industrialisation spread unevenly,

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not only around the world, but even in the industrial heartland regions of Europe and the USA. Choosing to equate the Great European Transformation to the Industrial Revolution places the emphasis on industrial applications, even though, as we have seen, many authors have emphasised the intricate interplay between social, cultural, technological, economic, geopolitical, and ecological factors. A related framing is to emphasise the broader societal shift from traditional society to a new era of modernity.

3.3 Modernity Modernisation encompassed and drew its spirit from industrialisation, although it is a farther-reaching concept. Modernisation/modernity was typically also marked by a profound change of agricultural practices, social organisation, and cultural values that affected daily practices across Europe even more than did the factories of industrialisation. The concept of industrialisation has often been used generically to refer not only to the growth of factory production and new technology, but to all the major characteristics of industrial society. As a generic term, it can be difficult to separate from modernisation, as industrialisation can also be used to describe the essence of modern society. In the words of sociologist Krishan Kumar: Industrialization meant, certainly, the transformation of the productive forces of society through the application of a machine technology and the factory system; but it also meant urbanization, secularization, the ‘rationalization’ of thought, institutions, and behavior, the individualization of consciousness and conduct, and a host of other changes in family life, politics, and culture. Later . . . modernization was applied to these sets of changes. (Kumar, 1978:55)

Modernisation emerged as a concept for describing the wider scope of changes than just those related to industrial practices and as a way to contextualise industrialisation and provide a wider range of reasons why it occurred at a certain time and place. New agricultural methods and opening of new lands resulted in higher productivity. Particularly in frontier areas, farm production was not primarily intended for local consumption, but was traded internationally to support increasingly urbanised societies. Trade across the continents was no longer only a matter of satisfying the market for luxury goods, but became an enabler of the modern West. The colonies and new frontiers of European expansion supplied goods such as wheat and rice for staple food and cotton for textile manufacture, in addition to formerly luxury goods such as tea and coffee.

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The incorporation of frontier agriculture into the European economies rested in turn on innovation in transport technology, such as railroads and steamships, which sped up and lowered the cost of transport. The expansion of military capacity through technological and organisational development was also an important part of modernisation that not only influenced nation-state building, but also became a prerequisite for sustained colonisation. The application of industrial technology in the form of steamships and railroads rapidly lowered transport costs, thereby boosting the export of classical frontier agricultural items. The opening up of agrarian frontiers was linked to industrialisation insofar as demand for raw materials grew, and food had to be found for the industrial workforce newly released from working the land. Industrialisation had changed farming long before the steam- or internal-combustion-engine-powered tractor. However, the steel plough was invented in the 1830s, but only in the twentieth century did we see the full industrialisation of agriculture itself and the global rise of agro-industry. The countries that emerged as important powers acquired their dominant positions through the configuration of industrial development, formation of nationstates, and the imprint of ideologies of progress across society, influencing public and private investments, education, and the reshaping of the workforce. Modernisation as a transformation concept also captures the emergence of new forms of social organisation, such as the nation-state, the modern firm, intergovernmental organisations, and the evolution of proto-global civil society embodied by transnational social movements, including campaigns and networks for promoting the abolition of slavery and women’s right to vote (Buzan & Lawson, 2015). Modernity as a great transformation encompasses, in the words of historian Jürgen Osterhammel (2014:904), a long list of features: An incipient long-term rise in national income; the conduct of life involving rational calculation; transition from status to class society; the growth of political participation; a legal basis for relations of political rule and social intercourse; destructive capacities of a quite new dimension; or a shift in the arts away from imitation of tradition to the creative destruction of aesthetic norms.

This account of features is, however, not an explanation of modernity as transformation, and leaves unaddressed what caused the transformation in the modernisation framing of the Great European Transformation. The modernisation framing highlights a long list of transformational features. What then are the drivers of modernisation? Was it fourteenth-century Renaissance art and humanism, the rise of a bourgeois capitalist class in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, and London from the sixteenth

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century and its economic and cultural consequence, or the shipping and weapons technologies of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that made imperialist expansion possible? Historian David Wootton (2015) is convinced that modernity began with the Scientific Revolution, marked by astronomer Tycho Brahe’s discovery of a new star in the heavens and Isaac Newton’s publication of Opticks in 1704. To Wootton (2015:3), this was ‘the most important transformation in human history’ since the Neolithic Revolution, as it completely changed our knowledge of how nature is constructed, which in turn ‘began to transform the world, a process which resulted in the modern technologies on which our lives depend’ (Wootton, 2015:53). The productivity of human labour grew at a pace unheard of in earlier epochs. Although it is difficult to measure statistically the material value creation across the globe, per capita production was considerably higher in the nineteenth century than in preceding centuries, at least after 1870 in the USA (Gordon, 2016). Although disparities were tremendous, overall per capita income had risen and material wealth spread from the privileged few to a wider segment of the population in many countries, particularly in the Western world. An important aspect of using the modernisation concept in understanding the nineteenth-century transformation is that it also captures new social organisation. New international actors, not only nation-states, but also transnational corporations, permanent intergovernmental organisations, as well as various nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), became important in an international system of transnational exchange. Emergent transnational movements ranged from the anti-slavery movement and conservation societies, to the suffragettes and workers’ movements. Following Durkheim, Buzan and Lawson (2015) argued that the nineteenth-century transformation was characterised by a shifting of social orders from stratified social differentiation, through a hierarchy of rankings and classes, to functional differentiation defined as ‘the coherence and interdependence of specialized types of activity, the creation of a complex division of labour, and the rise of legal, political, military, economic, scientific, religious and other specialized roles’ (Buzan & Lawson, 2015:2). This functionality distinguishes the transformation seen through the modernity lense. Buzan and Lawson (2015) have criticised other analyses of the societal transformation of the nineteenth century for considering only the distribution of power without paying sufficient attention to underlying modes of power. Whereas the emphasis of the Industrial Revolution and modernisation framings has been on the features of the Great European Transformation, we will now turn to a case in which the transformation is made sense of primarily in terms of the engine of change: the self-regulating market as the great transformation.

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3.4 The Self-Regulating Market In contrast to the industrial and modernity framings, Karl Polanyi (1944:3) in his seminal book The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time identified a single primary factor that induced the nineteenth-century transformation: the self-regulating market – the social ‘innovation which gave rise to a specific civilization’. According to Polanyi, the market economy emerged to replace traditional economic organisation, backed up by the interests of a bourgeois society, legal decisions, and a new ideology. Markets are not only places or networks in which goods and/or services are bought and sold, but are ultimately interactions structured around price-setting and functionality, as well as the quality and quantity of exchanged goods and services (Mayhew, 2000). Polanyi noted four institutions that shaped this transformation: the North Atlantic political economy and balance of political power, the international gold standard, the liberal state, and, in particular, the self-regulating market system, which Polanyi described as ‘the fount and matrix of the system’ (Polanyi, 2001:3). Almost all previous societies, according to Polanyi, relied on non-market mechanisms for distributing goods. Production and redistribution had been organised through social relationships based on either kinship or reciprocal community obligations. Although markets existed throughout ancient history, they were not essential, indispensable parts of societies. If they had been closed, this would not have seriously disrupted society, whereas the nineteenth-century Western world was built on the very function of markets. The essential difference, the mark of the great transformation as described by Polanyi, was that before the nineteenth century markets were controlled, whereas afterwards they were in control. Polanyi traced the emergence of the self-regulating system to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which, even though it was oriented to capitalism, it was not yet fully organised around the market economy. Rather than seeing itself as the great transformation, it was in Polanyi’s view a prelude to the profound changes of the nineteenth century. England became the pioneer of societal transformation in Europe, but not primarily because of the mechanical inventions of the Industrial Revolution. In Polanyi’s analysis, it was the commodification of land and labour that displaced the peasantry from the land and made them available for wage labour, creating a new working class, which was the primary driver of the social transformation of the mercantile era. Two developments necessary for the emergence of the self-regulating market appeared in the later eighteenth century and defined the next century: the factory system and economic liberalism. The precipitous spread of factory production changed the interactions between commerce and industry, as industrial production

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increasingly required large investments. Producers opposed having government regulating supplies to their factories or the resulting business interactions. Concurrently, economic liberalism emerged as an important ideology underpinning both the resistance to government control of economic affairs as well as the commodification of land, labour, and capital. Polanyi described how the ideology’s ultimate consequence, laissez faire – i.e., that the order of things was best maintained by refraining from intervening and letting perceived calamities play out – ‘evolved into a veritable faith in man’s secular salvation through a self-regulating market’ (Polanyi, 1944:135). Polanyi described how this transformation was underpinned by the evolution of British intellectual life, from Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’, which would ensure that free trade would ultimately benefit all of society, through Robert Malthus’ view of poverty as part of the divine order, and on to the peak of laissez faire in the economically thriving 1830s. The transformation entailed a shift in mind set, and the new policy preferences of the political economy were argued to be in line with the order of nature (Mayhew, 2000). According to Polanyi, unregulated markets proved so harmful to human communities and nature that they brought on counter-reactions, some of which were devastating to human lives and dignity. The rise of fascism, after the collapse of the European balance of geopolitical power with the First World War as well as the Great Depression brought on by the failures of the gold standard and other instruments of the self-regulating market, were such counter-reactions. Other, less totalitarian reactions have instead helped to sustain the markets. Left to themselves, self-regulating markets would in Polanyi’s view be self-destructive in the long run. However, through the New Deal and other efforts of governments to alleviate the shocks of the Great Depression via regulations, liberal capitalism was able to survive, and the idea of the superiority of a self-regulating market paradoxically endured. The self-regulating market thesis is still very much part of today’s debate on transformation. For example, Polanyi Levitt (2013) argues that creating political institutions of government for large regions of economic integration in the developing world would be one viable institutional response that could leverage a counter-transformation of the global capitalist order. 3.5 A Fourth Industrial Revolution or Second Modernity? Today, the rapid changes in technology, society, and culture are conceptually associated with these earlier epochs through concepts such as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ or ‘second modernity’. How we choose to label these epochs reveals what we see as their main drivers.

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In just a few decades, mobile devices with enormous processing power that connect people around the world have made information vitally easier to both generate, access, and manipulate. The Internet of things and all our associated digital equipment enable the collection of incomprehensible amounts of data that can be processed and analysed through cloud computing and big data plus analytics. By 2020, 200 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet (Turner et al., 2014). Almost the whole world population now lives within range of a mobile-cellular network signal (ITU, 2018). Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and additive manufacturing (e.g., 3D printing) together with nanotechnology, gene editing, and other biotechnology innovations are changing not only our daily lives and production modes all over the world, but also relationships between humans and ultimately our interactions with nature. To Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (2014), these technological shifts qualify as a new era: the second machine age. While the first machine age, made possible by the first Industrial Revolution, centred on automating physical labour and horsepower, we today find ourselves in a distinctly new machine age with the automation of knowledge work enabled by superfast data processing and novel information and communication technologies (ICTs). Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue that computers are so proficient and are developing so quickly that it is inconceivable how their use will develop over coming decades. The World Economic Forum president Klaus Schwab instead labels the interlinked shifts in the digital, physical, and biological spheres as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’: ‘The scale of the impact and the speed of the changes taking place have made the transformation that is playing out so differently from any other industrial revolution in human history’ (Schwab, 2017:120). The new applications in the physical, digital, and biological spheres and their interactions will not only change how we live and work, how businesses are organised and create value, geopolitical conditions, and the political economy of countries, but they entail ‘nothing less than a transformation of humankind’ (Schwab, 2017:7). The first Industrial Revolution enhanced production by replacing animal and human power with coal-fired engines, while the second centred on mass production and consumption based on systems of specialised machines, run by large bureaucratic corporations and a new system of labour control and consumerism (Boyer, 1989; Harvey, 1990; Maddison, 1982). The third built on the digitalisation of the global economy. Yet, the Internet is still accessible by only half of the world’s population, primarily in urban and densely populated areas. Therefore, the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development (2018a) has launched 2025 targets to support ‘Connecting the Other Half’ with the aim that 75 per cent of the global population should be broadband Internet users by then, including 65 per cent

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of people in developing countries and 35 per cent in the least developed countries. The target also calls for 60 per cent of youth and adults to have a ‘minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills’, which include not only basic digital skills, but also ‘a comprehensive understanding of the rapidly changing world in which they live, as well as their roles and responsibilities within it’ (The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, 2018a:43, 2018b). As the second and third industrial revolutions are still ongoing, with consumption being spread unevenly around the globe, the periodisation can be questioned. Are these technological developments really a new revolution or just new digital phases of an ongoing industrial era? Why, then, a fourth epoch of industrialisation? Why do today’s transformations not represent merely the prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution? Three reasons are provided by Schwab (2017): velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. Compared with previous industrial revolutions, the fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than an incremental linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country, and the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. What are the drivers of this revolution? While the World Economic Forum’s Mapping Global Transformations recognises ‘the complex forces driving transformational change’ (WEF, 2019) and its president argues that the transformation is not only about technology, the primary highlighted drivers are exclusively so. In addition to digital advances, Schwab (2017) identifies four physical mega-trends: autonomous vehicles, additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, and new materials (e.g., nanomaterials such as graphene, circular economy materials such as thermosetting plastics that could boost recycling). The World Economic Forum points to these developments as holding great promise in enabling a circular economy through elaborate environmental monitoring, the sharing economy, and efficient recycling. In biology, genetic sequencing and editing, in which a needed gene can be supplied and an unwanted one disabled, could make it possible not only to repair bodies and prolong life, but ultimately to alter hereditary characteristics. Other, non-technological drivers, include demographic pressures in terms of both migration and population ageing, geopolitical shifts, and new social and cultural norms. Factors such as the striving for economic profit and political economy power seem conspicuously absent in the World Economic Forum’s formal mapping of transformation drivers. There is a rapidly growing literature on advanced ICTs and digitalisation as drivers of efforts to attain the SDGs. By transforming most societal sectors, such as education, health, media, retail, finance, mobility, and energy, artificial intelligence is, in the words of the International Telecommunication Union, ‘promising to help

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accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ (ITU, 2018:iii). In addition to these circular economy arguments, hopes of harnessing ICT and digitalisation advances to achieve the SDGs rely on measures ranging from resource-efficient production, environmental monitoring, flexible energy grids, replacing long-distance lorries or trucks, resource-efficient cities, and additive manufacturing to effective healthcare treatments and immersive online education (e.g., Conceição, 2019; Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, 2019; ITU, 2018; Nordin & Norman, 2018). Of course, these new technologies could work both ways, and also underpin or even promote unsustainable consumption. For instance, 3D printing could promote wear-and-tear lifestyles, and autonomous vehicles could shift customers from energy-efficient public transport. The GHG emissions from digital technologies today account for 3.7 per cent of total global GHG emissions, roughly equalling those from aviation. While we are currently experiencing a global decarbonisation rate of 1.8 per cent, the digital industry is increasing its carbon intensity by 4 per cent per year (The Shift Project, 2019). While substantial investments in technological development are being made by business and governments, the main focus of the reports covered here is not on how emerging technological transformations can be catalysed, but rather on how they can be harnessed and controlled. Along similar lines, the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Annual Meeting was held under the theme ‘Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. While the World Economic Forum frames the drivers of industrial development as mainly technological, non-technological drivers are required to remedy the potentially negative social effects and align the transformation enabled by technologies with the SDGs. Without education and strong transnational governance, unequal distribution of the benefits and costs of new modes of production will likely lead to more fragmented societies with greater social unrest. Without international regulations, new security threats may well arise from cyber and robotised warfare. The International Telecommunication Union stresses the need for social consensus within and across countries as a prerequisite for the digital economy’s role in the 2030 Agenda (ITU, 2018). Again, as with transformations to sustainability, a shared understanding across cultures is assumed, despite the evident cultural differences, social divides, uneven distribution of benefits, and diversity of personal preferences. Whereas the drivers are elaborated on, agency is largely ignored in the descriptions of emerging transformations in these reports. Agency is instead seen only in the deliberate response to the technological shift, with governments and agencies being requested to work in tandem with business and civil society to ensure an inclusive transformation. ‘Agility’, ‘trust’, and ‘emotional awareness’ (Henning,

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2018:277) are recurrent key concepts in avoiding social turmoil in a disrupted economy. The empowerment of citizens, employees, and smaller countries is an imperative in the World Economic Forum framing to prevent technological transformations from leading to social upheaval, loss of jobs, a sense of powerlessness, and alienation among exposed regions and groups. Education is often presented as a key to agency in the new economy, whether it is training a workforce with low digital skills and repetitive jobs that risk becoming redundant, or educating professionals who can apply data analytics to societal problems (ITU, 2018; Nordin & Norman, 2018; Pappas et al. 2018; Schwab, 2017). Ulrich Beck describes the drivers of the ‘social and economic transformations in the new century’ (2016:261; see also Chang, 2010), drawing on a broader set of terms: ‘global free trade and financialization, corporate deterritorialization and transnationalised production, globalized labour use, internet communication, globally orchestrated bioscientific manipulation of life forms and, last but not least, globally financed and managed regional wars’ (Beck, 2016:268). All of these factors and processes are structurally intertwined in a ‘new civilization process’ that impels Beck to make a different another analogy calling it ‘the second modernity’ (2016:261). Responding to this process requires research to leave behind methodological nationalism, that inequalities be remapped, and a new vision of cosmopolitanism – the interconnectivity of the world – in which all nations, organisations, and individuals over the world heed the ‘cosmopolitan imperative: cooperate or fail!’ (Beck, 2016:261). Whereas these historical and contemporary transformations permeate all of society or entire civilisations, the transformation concept is also frequently used in analysing systemic changes in more specific aspects of human organisation. In the following section, we turn to two examples of such changes used as analogies for sustainability transformations: the ‘automobilisation’ of cities and the abolition of slavery. 3.6 Automobilisation Many commentators have cited the ‘Parable of Horseshit’ (Kolbert, 2009) to illustrate the dynamics of transformation. In the words of science journalist Brandon Keim (2013:1), ‘It’s a tidy story, so to speak, about dirty horses and clean cars and technological innovation. As typically told, it’s a lesson we can learn from today, now that cars are their own environmental disaster, and one that technology can no doubt solve.’ However, the stories of technological innovation are rarely as tidy. In this section, we look more closely at the often-cited case of the motorcar as a transformative agent for the manure-plagued large cities of the nineteenth century.

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The use of horses in public transportation grew rapidly in nineteenth-century cities, not only in the USA, but in major cities around the world. Historians Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr (2003:183) quoted a New York mayor calling the introduction of horse-drawn streetcars in cities ‘the greatest invention in the history of man’. These streetcars shaped the growth of American cities, enabling suburban sprawl around downtown business districts (McShane & Tarr, 2003). However, as one problem was addressed, that of transport within rapidly growing cities, another one arose in consequence: city centres crowded with horses and the mounting challenges of disposing of the manure (Kolbert, 2009). The larger cities of the nineteenth-century USA had one horse for every nineteen people, with great variation (e.g., Kansas City had four horses for every human inhabitant). In the 1880s, Manhattan had 800,000 inhabitants and 150,000 horses, which not only required extensive land, but produced over fifteen metric tonnes of dung each day (McShane & Tarr, 2007). The city of Chicago had to dispose of 600,000 tons of horse manure and New York 15,000 dead horses from the streets in 1880 (Husband & O’Loughlin, 2004). The stinking horse manure amidst these modernising cities posed an acute challenge. Often quoted is the New York commentator in the 1890s who predicted that, by the 1930s, the accumulated horse manure would reach the third-floor windows of Manhattan buildings (Levitt & Dubner, 2009; Kolbert, 2009). Not only did the manure smell, far worse, it contributed to the spread of typhoid and other diseases, not to speak of the health of the horses, who often only lived a few years (McShane, 1995; McShane & Tarr, 2007; Paterson, 2007). Growing cities required more horses and larger stables at a time of rising land prices. Regulations for the stables were introduced to prevent fires and animal mistreatment. The rising cost of disposing of manure, which had become less economically attractive as a fertiliser as industrial options, such as phosphate, became more competitive, led to the nuisance of mounting manure piles that smelled and became a breeding ground for disease-transmitting insects. However, horse manure was not the only problem facing the officials of these growing cities: as horse-operated transit systems reached the limits of their capacity, they became a ‘bottleneck on the road to suburbanisation’ (McShane & Tarr, 2003:186). The story often goes that the problem was solved, not by government regulation, but through the technological innovation of the internal-combustion engine. In SuperFreakonomics, economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner (2009:10) argued that the ‘automobile, cheaper to own and operate than a horse-drawn vehicle, was proclaimed an “environmental savior”. Cities around the world were able to take a deep breath – without holding their noses at last – and resume their march of progress.’ By 1912, automobiles outnumbered

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horses in New York, and, in 1917, the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar made its final run. The Financial Times, history websites, Internet forums, and government websites all repeat the story of the ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894’ and of the automobile as the saviour. Avoiding what the Times in 1894 famously predicted: ‘In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure’ (e.g., Groom, 2013; Humanes, 2016; Johnson, 2015; UK, 2017). A Google search for the quotation will find plentiful examples using the quotation in advocating massproduced motor vehicles as the environmental rescuers of cities. Levitt and Dubner (2009:10) used the anecdote to advocate climate engineering: ‘Just as equine activity once threatened to stomp out civilization, there is now a fear that human activity will do the same.’ They dismiss climate concerns for two reasons. First, they argue that the warnings have been exaggerated. Second, in their view, technological solutions will emerge by default: ‘Technological fixes are often far simpler, and therefore cheaper, than the doomsayers could have imagined’ (Levitt & Dubner, 2009:10). They are not foreseeing emerging renewable energy technologies as solutions, but those of climate engineering, particularly methods for solar radiation management, such as enhancing the brightness of marine clouds and mimicking the cooling effects of volcanoes by injecting sulphur into the atmosphere, as well as sucking cold water from ocean depths to the sea surface to cool the Earth. ‘For anyone who loves cheap and simple solutions, things don’t get much better’, according to economists Levitt and Dubner (2009:277). However, solutions to complex problems are seldom simple. In particular, most solar radiation technologies at best are still in the development stage, while many others are still desk-based dreams. Furthermore, the growing literature on climate engineering technologies notes vast uncertainties, in terms of economics, geopolitics, legitimacy, governance, and health and environmental impacts (Linnér & Wibeck, 2015). Just as technology solves problems, it also creates them. New devices consume more energy (e.g., for cooling the devices), require more or new types of resource exploitation (e.g., the extraction of new minerals), and cause new types of pollution. Its dualistic nature gives humans a ‘deep ambivalence’ (Arthur, 2010:22) towards technology: it serves our lives, but also directs them. We trust technology, rather than nature, and continue placing our hope in it. So, was the horse manure crisis solved by the car industry? Urban and environmental historians have disputed the tidy narrative of a technological quick fix for the manure-swamped cities of the late nineteenth century. Even before cars became a frequent sight in city streets, horses were on their way out (McShane, 1995). McShane and Tarr (2003, 2007:187) demonstrated that horses as the primary power of public transport in cities were replaced by

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‘[e]lectric trolleys, which received their power from an overhead wire and returned it through the rails’. This, they concluded, ‘provided the system that finally made the horse obsolete’. By 1902, only 6 per cent of the passengers who had used horses twelve years earlier were still using horse transport. Efforts to reconstruct the transport systems began before the first commercial car manufacturers commenced operation (Wells, 2012), as city governments actively supported the conversion to electric trolleys. Certainly, automobile advocates argued at the time that they would contribute to cleaner and safer cities. However, even before cars became a frequent sight in city streets, horses were on their way out (McShane, 1995). Rather than being dominated by internalcombustion-engine-powered vehicles, the final years of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century can be labelled ‘the age of streetcars’ (Keim, 2013:1) in major cities. When cars started to appear for personal transport, they were for the wealthy. In McShane and Tarr’s (2007) view, the shift from horsebased city transport was definitely not a matter of the internal-combustion engine, nor was it the result only of breakthroughs in electric technology: The rapidity of this capital-intensive transformation, a mere five years from 1888 to 1893, is startling, especially given the slow pace at which stationary engines had converted. Horse cars seemed old-fashioned for cities that prided themselves on their modernity. Once street railway owners saw the possibilities of a low-cost form of mechanical power that was acceptable to the public, they switched immediately. If local firms did not convert, public pressure, in the form of grants to electrified competitors, forced them to do so rapidly. Trolleys allowed increases in route lengths, creating windfall real estate gains for corporate insiders, and owners, riders and regulators alike were all anxious to get rid of the horse. (McShane & Tarr, 2003:187)

Keim (2013) called the idea of a smooth transition from horse-powered city transport to the automobile age ‘a history-as-approved-by-victors myth’ that omits the decades that saw horse travel declining in favour of electric streetcars, when internal-combustion-engine-powered automobiles were still rare and primarily used to transport goods. ‘The automobile as we now conceive it, a personal transport machine, wouldn’t come along for nearly half a century’ (Keim, 2013:1). These examples show that the spread of automobiles can hardly be reduced simply to an issue of invention. First, the development of cars hinges on a technological regime – that is, ‘the whole complex of scientific knowledges, engineering practices, production process technologies, product characteristics, skills and procedures, and institutions and infrastructures that make up the totality of a technology’ (Kemp et al., 1998:180). The development of mass mobility in cities required not only inventions in electrification, the internal-combustion engine, and all-steel car body technologies, but also infrastructure technologies, such as roads, tunnels, bridges, and the petroleum industry. Second, historians such

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as Peter Norton et al. (2008) and Christopher Wells (2012) have described how the transformation to the automobilised city was as much a social process, with practices of work and pleasure changing over time, as it was a specific technological shift. Numerous studies of the automobility that prevailed after the 1900s have also noted the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and political aspects that made the automobilisation of cities possible (Featherstone, 2004; Orsato & Wells, 2007; Urry, 2004). In this view it is the multilear the spread of hydrocarbon society rather than the success of the internal-combustion engine a single primary leverages that characterises the transformation towards automobilisation. If the real urban problem that called for transformation was that of urban sprawl rather than horse manure, then neither the electrification of public transport around the turn of the nineteenth century nor the later spread of the internalcombustion engine was the ultimate solution, as is obvious to this day. Norton et al. (2008) and Wells (2012) have offered yet another take on the framing of this problem: the sanitary dilemma of cities was not only that of horse manure, but of waste in form of human activities in general; therefore, to the extent this required a technological solution, sanitary engineers were as important as automotive engineers. So, this shift that is often hailed as an example of disruptive transformation turns out to be less of a clear-cut case of a specific technological innovation than often assumed. It points at an important conclusion that is underpinned with other examples in this book: that the leverages, the drivers, of transformation rarely are one-dimensional, but involve social, cultural, economic, environmental, technological, and political processes. We now turn to another example of a specific transformation, where drivers have been framed in political, economic, and value terms. 3.7 Abolition of Slavery The abolition of slavery in the West was a profound transformation, not only of a specific economic production, but ultimately of social practice and cultural values. It is an example of a specific transformation that had cultural repercussions. However, slavery was abolished at different times in different countries, and for at least partly different reasons. Abolition can be used as an analogy for today’s sustainability transformations for three reasons: first, similar to today’s fossil based economy, the slave trade was a practice long seen as essential to the world economy. Second, it seems that it was not primarily economic self-interest, but other factors, not least moral arguments, that were the core motives for abolition. Third, the abolition of slavery proves that the priorities and values of the general

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public can change within a relatively short period. How such values can change is one of the fundamental questions for transformation governance. The abolition of slavery in Western countries and their colonies was not the first occurrence of slaves being emancipated; for example, in China, slavery was briefly abolished during the Xin Dynasty (9–23 CE). However, in today’s sustainability discussions it is primary the Western case that is used as an illustrative example of a societal transformation. The slave trade was an established, hardly questioned practice involved in most important transactions of Atlantic commerce until the late eighteenth century. As Adam Hochschild (2005:14) explained, ‘the thought that anyone might ever want to ban this lucrative business was inconceivable’. The slave trade peaked in the 1780s before starting to decline, at first gradually and later, towards the 1840s, more rapidly (Curtin, 1969; Osterhammel, 2014). After the decline of the slave trade, slavery itself remained a profitable business. Even after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, slave-worked plantations continued to be profitable well into the 1860s in other countries. Robin Blackburn (2011:24) argued that, at this time, ‘the planters of the United States, Cuba and Brazil were among the richest and most influential people in the world’. Although slavery has been part of many societies throughout history, some frame the rapid growth of Western plantation slavery as a transformation in itself (Davis, 2006). The growth of capitalism saw an entirely new dimension in the demand for slaves and consequently the slave trade. European demand for new consumer goods, which soon exceeded the productive capacity of available cheap labour if costs were to be kept down, coupled with the rise of the imperialist states created profitable opportunities to produce goods such as sugar, chocolate, dyestuffs, and coffee on plantations in the Americas, eventually followed by rising consumer demand for cotton on the international market (Davis, 2006). Between 1500 and 1820, slaves taken from Africa outnumbered European migrants to the Americas – overwhelmingly, by four to one in the case of Brazil (Blackburn, 2011). Many influential British parliamentarians were slave owners, and slave traders became respected entrepreneurs in society (Hochschild, 2005). David Brion Davis (2006) argued that another aspect of the transformation towards a slave-based plantation economy was a new ideology in which racial stereotypes about African peoples legitimised the slave-based economy of the Americas. Slavery became normalised, and, even among many Enlightenment thinkers calling for ‘liberty, equality, and brotherhood’, few spoke out against slavery. Those who called for freedom for oppressed Europeans saw no contradiction in not speaking out against the abduction and bondage of Africans. Even the Church of England invested in slave plantations. As Hochschild (2005:86) concluded, ‘no major thinker defended slavery, but few spent real effort attacking it’.

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After the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the British slave trade was booming as the war no longer posed a threat to the slave ships. British slavery showed no signs of being challenged. Profits from the slave-worked plantations were economically important for the wider economy, providing additional revenues through custom duties, boosting port traffic, providing jobs for traders and sailors, and making life more comfortable for those who could afford the new consumer goods. Still, there were scattered protests and even a few successful initiatives seeking to abolish slavery. In 1791, a bill to gradually abandon the slave trade by 1796 was passed by the British House of Commons, the first national legislative body in the world to oppose slavery.1 However, the bill was not passed by the House of Lords and, with the escalation of the French Revolution, culminating in King Louis XVI’s decapitation in 1793, inducing a new war between Britain and France, any abolition prospects were put on hold. As Hochschild (2005:236) concluded, ‘War fever is always the enemy of social reform.’ With the war and fear of revolutionary sentiments arising in Britain, repressive legislation hampered popular protests of any kind. The subsequent Napoleonic Wars meant that it would take another decade before an abolition bill finally succeeded. After twenty years of struggle, a bill to abolish the slave trade finally passed in early 1807. Concurrently, the powerful Royal British Navy was authorised to seize foreign ships if they were carrying slaves and to free them regardless of their formal ownership. This discouraged others from filling the void left by the British withdrawal from the slave trade. In the same year, the US Congress banned its citizens from taking part in the slave trade, in effect making it unlawful to import new slaves into the republic. Twenty-six years later, in 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire. It did not free all slaves immediately, but required that they should first serve as ‘apprentices’ for six years. After protests, the government finally ended the apprenticeship system in 1838, freeing 800,000 slaves – men, women, and children – across the British Empire. An important part of the bargain was to compensate plantation owners with £20 million in government bonds, an astonishing figure amounting to approximately 40 per cent of the national budget at the time. This satisfied both the plantation owners and their creditors, as well as other investors in London, but outraged many abolitionists who were appalled that compensation was made to the slave owners but not to the enslaved.

1

By the 1780s, six northern states in USA had adopted legislation that progressively ended slavery. Notably, these were states with few slaves and where slavery had been of marginal importance to the economy (Painter, 2006).

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The historiography of the abolition of the slave trade and slavery is marked by substantial controversies about the main drivers; yet, it is conclusive that economic factors alone cannot explain how such a fundamental imperialist institution was phased out over the course of a century (e.g., Blackburn, 2011; Davis, 2006; Drescher, 2009). While industrialisation gained momentum at the end of the eighteenth century, the plantation economy, backed by the imperialist states, was at its peak of effectiveness, productivity, and profitability. Many actors had acquired immense earnings from slave-based economic practices. There was no direct competition between industrial practices and the slave-based plantation economy. Although a few economists, such as Adam Smith, argued that free labour was more efficient than forced labour, this was not the hegemonic view of British economists at the time (Osterhammel, 2014). What tipped the scales was motivation at the level of ideas capable of inspiring enough members of the political elite who had no direct stake in the West Indies. Several factors have been proposed to explain why the British abolition movement succeeded several decades before those of several other major slave-holding countries of the time. In the following, we discuss some of the most common factors forwarded as reasons for the ensuing success of abolition: economic change due to industrial innovation, uprisings of the enslaved, geopolitical change, shifting values and perspectives, parliamentary reforms, and civil campaigns. Economic change due to industrial innovation: The plantation economy had been important for the growth of industrial society. The supply of consumer goods, such as tobacco and sugar, stimulated the shift towards wage labour and away from subsistence farming. In turn, the expansion of capitalism in north-west Europe that underpinned the Industrial Revolution was pushing wider segments of the population into the cash economy, and stimulating demand for plantation-produced consumer goods. In fact, Polanyi and Rotstein (1969:17) called the introduction of sugar cane into the Antilles in 1640 ‘an epochal event as specific as the invention of the steam engine by James Watt some 130 years later’. As the Industrial Revolution took hold in Britain in the eighteenth century, slavebased production became less important for the economy. Although there was still a lot of money in the slave-worked plantation economy, it was relatively less important. Morris (2010) estimated that the total ‘energy capture’ of all installed steam engines was equivalent to that of 40 million humans by 1870. However, as slavery had basically been abolished in the industrial regions, it was not slave power that the engines replaced. Rather, the industrial system, based on technological innovations that enhanced efficiency, free trade, and free labour, affected the abolition discussions by becoming increasingly important for the national economy. Blackburn (2011:3) maintained ‘that abolitionist movements were intimately linked to the stresses and strains of the industrial revolution’. Moreover, as the

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economics of the Industrial Revolution meant a move from mercantilist to capitalist society, a new class of industrialists and businessmen emerged that became increasingly important but were cut off from formal legislative power. They were essential, not only for the abolition movement – ‘the first reform movement run mainly by businessmen’ (Hochschild, 2005:127) – but also for the pressure for legislative change. Yet the explanatory potential of capitalism is disputed among historians. Blackburn (2011) argued against claims that the emergence and development of capitalism was part of the solution, a driving force of the abolition movement. Pointing out that although industrialists and businessmen were an important group behind the abolition campaign and the parliamentary reform, they were also, Blackburn (2011:3) argued, ‘very much part of the problem’. While the new class that emerged from capital-driven industrialisation was a vital force behind the abolition movement and the necessary parliamentary reform, it was surely also a major driving force of the demand for slaves on plantations. Of course, slavery would have existed without capitalism, having been part of many human societies for thousands of years, but the plantation economy was unquestionably built on slavery on an entirely different scale. While the early Spanish colonies in the Americas had household slaves, the rise of demand for and profits from tobacco and sugar saw a radically greater demand for slaves on the plantations, particularly after the high death tolls that diminished the indigenous populations. A new class of investors arose who could sustain the investments in ships, crews, and people purchased in the slave markets of Western Africa. As such, the rise of capitalism contributed to the surge in the slave trade after the fifteenth century and to the horrible human suffering that it caused. Uprisings by the enslaved: The French Revolution’s leitmotif of liberty, equality, and brotherhood inspired leaders of slave revolts, such as Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the successful revolt in Haiti (Saint-Domingue under the French), which became a beacon for other revolts in the West Indies in the early decades of the nineteenth century (i.e., Barbados 1816, Demerara 1822, and Jamaica 1831–1832). These revolts slashed the profits of slave-worked plantations, creating uncertainty about the future of slave-based production and exposing the dire conditions of the enslaved. The uprisings made the costs and risks of maintaining slavery in the colonies apparent to the British government. However, the fear of revolt was insufficient to cause the abandonment of slavery, and plantation owners needed a positive incentive to accept the parliamentary deal in the 1830s. The risks of revolts and of outright civil war were part of the calculations when plantation owners became ready to accept the substantial compensation attached to the abolition (Blackburn, 2011; Hochschild, 2005).

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Geopolitical change: Abolitionism in the Western hemisphere was also a byproduct of geopolitical events such as the American and French revolutions, the Napoleonic Wars, the Spanish American wars of independence, the US Civil War, the rise and fall of the Brazilian Empire, and Cuba’s struggle for independence (Blackburn, 2011). After American independence in 1776 and the final victory over the British in 1783, Britain’s sugar colonies, such as Jamaica and Barbados, economically declined as American trade increased with the French, who had supported the revolution, and with the Dutch colonies in the West Indies. While this downturn coincided with an awakened call to abolish the slave trade, it hardly explains why the slave interests finally gave in as, in the long term, British plantations continued to be profitable for many plantation owners, although the margins had become strained over time and many plantations ended up in the hands of London creditors. An argument against the abolition of Britain’s slave trade was that France would fill the void and dominate the world’s sugar market, increasing its relative competitive advantage over Britain. Revolutionary France had formally ended slavery in its colonies in 1794. It was, however, to be a short-lived victory for the abolitionists, and with Napoleon Bonaparte in power as France’s first Consul, slavery was restored throughout the French empire (Blackburn, 2011). Shifting values and perspectives: Did values matter or did they only reflect changing material practices? This is a fundamental question in discussions of the drivers of abolition. The core argument of those who emphasise the role of ideas, ethics and world views is that if values, such as racial stereotypes, underpinned the growth of the slave-based plantation economy in the international capitalist system, changing values could also have challenged it. Blackburn (2011) saw opposition to slavery originating in the American, French, and Haitian revolutions as essential in shifting values to undermine slavery, by moving from hierarchy to equality as the norm in human relations. The abolitionist campaigns can be seen as mirroring a revolution in values concerning equality, justice, and what it is to be human. Changing mindsets made it possible to ban a practice that had been taken for granted as natural by the colonial powers for centuries and beneficial to their core economic interests (Davis, 2006). The French Revolution encompassed ideas of liberty and equality that also underpinned some of the abolitionist thinking that inspired social movements and spurred revolts. Some of America’s influential early thinkers, such as Benjamin Franklin, were outspoken abolitionists. In France, a few philosophers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot were among those who spoke out against slavery. Still, despite the creed of liberty, equality, and brotherhood, and the idea of people’s natural rights, few of those bearing the Enlightenment banner condemned slavery. Despite the Enlightenment, what historians have called the age of reason,

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few Europeans paid attention to the issue or voiced their opposition to slavery (Blackburn, 2011). Instead of Enlightenment thinkers, the abolition movement drew its primary motivation from new Christian movements that emphasised the brotherhood of man and the immorality of mistreating fellow children of God. In addition, a new form of patriotism emerged, in which the citizens of Britain could take pride in belonging to a more civilised, broad-minded, and tolerant society than the birthnation of the Enlightenment across the Channel. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge is attributed with the comparison of the British abolition with the conquests of Alexander and Napoleon, which looked ‘mean’ beside the triumph of the British decision to outlaw the slave trade (Osterhammel, 2014). Similarly, the French movement to abolish slavery, was driven by a ‘moral mission of social transformation’ according to Troy Feay (2012:47), a desire to create a utopia. This underlying motivation united French administrators and missionaries while locking them into conflicts over methods and authority. ‘Specific projects aimed at improving the lives of the enslaved demonstrated both the experiential piety that guided Catholic missionary utopian visions and the corresponding secular utopian visions that foresaw productive colonial populations contributing to the glory of the French nation’ (Feay, 2012:47). Civil campaigns: By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the call for freedom for enslaved people had led to the emergence of an almost universal movement. In Britain, religious activists, both nonconformists (mostly members of the Religious Society of Friends, popularly known as Quakers) and evangelicals in the Church of England, and humanitarian proponents led the movement. The Anglican deacon Thomas Clarkson was a prominent organiser of the anti-slavery campaign and the evangelical politician William Wilberforce was one of its leading proponents in parliament. Over the years the movement came to encompass a multifaceted alliance of Christian faiths, devoted patriots, former slaves, rebels in the colonies, and concerned businessmen and working-class agitators. They drew on various sources and teachings and were inspired by ‘appeals to righteous conduct and to the “rights of man”, the virtues of “free labour” and responsible government’ (Blackburn, 2011:26). The 1807 ban was pushed through parliament amidst massive civil protests calling for outlawing of the slave trade throughout the British Empire. In his book Bury the Chains, Hochschild (2005) has captured the development of abolitionism from the concern of a committed few to a mass movement: When the twelve-man abolition committee first gathered in May 1787, the handful of people in Britain who openly called for an end to slavery or the slave trade were regarded as oddballs, or at best as hopelessly idealistic. Yet in less than a year something unprecedented

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burst into being. Britons were challenging slavery in London debating societies, in provincial pubs, and across dinner tables throughout the country. Antislavery arguments filled bookshop shelves and newspaper columns. . . . Few countries in any age have seen a social movement of such scope erupt so suddenly. (Hochschild, 2005:213)

The movement quickly picked up momentum. In Manchester, a petition to end the slave trade gathered more than ten thousand signatures, a fifth of the city’s population. At a time when only one of twenty Britons could vote for the House of Commons, petitions were a significant means of influencing parliamentarians and those in power. In February 1788, what Hochschild (2005:136) described as ‘the tipping-point month’, half of the public debates reported in London newspapers had abolition as their topic. Hochschild (2005:129–130) quoted one of the founding members of the British Abolition Committee, the Quaker wool merchant Joseph Woods, who likened the reaction of the British people to ‘tinder which has immediately caught fire from the spark of Information which has been struck upon it’. At its peak, abolitionism had developed into a mass movement mobilising hundreds of thousands of people across Britain. They used nonviolent methods such as donating money to support runaway slaves, organising mass communication events at which they reported the atrocities occurring aboard the slave ships crossing the Atlantic and on the plantations, and signing petitions to influence lawmakers. Utopian ventures were supported, such as attempts to establish colonies for freed slaves in the Province of Freedom (1787–1789) and the Freetown Colony (1792–1808) of Sierra Leone, supported by white abolitionist benefactors, endeavours that encountered severe hardships (Hochschild, 2005; Schama, 2005). Sparked by the rejection of an abolition bill in parliament, the world saw its first major consumer boycott (a word that did not come into use for another century), initiated and put into action by women. At least 300,000 Britons stopped buying slave-grown sugar for their tea and cakes. ‘Produced by the labour of FREEMEN’ (Hochschild, 2005:194) was proclaimed in advertisements for sugar, similar to the fair trade labels of today. The campaigns run by women’s societies were, in the words of Hochschild (2005:327), ‘almost always bolder than those of the men’. The German historian Jürgen Osterhammel (2014:541) called the British abolitionist campaign ‘the first broad-based protest movement in Europe’. He concluded that, ‘although abolitionism did not destroy the political system of a territorial state, it swept away a form of bondage and accompanying laws and ideology that had been part of the bedrock of the early modern Atlantic world’ (Osterhammel, 2014:542). At the time, many of these abolitionist groups were suppressed, regarded as sects clearly outside the societal mainstream, since they maintained that there were

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moral imperatives for the nation higher than those of competitiveness and profitability and were convinced that a small organised group could shape the future. Likewise, historians have pointed to the importance of committed people, whom we would today call activists, in keeping up momentum during difficult years of setbacks and dips in popular engagement. Most of these people were driven by strong convictions that it was a moral imperative to eliminate slavery and the trade that upheld it. The movement was also helped by the spread of newspapers that printed stories on the horrific treatment of captives crowded on the slave ships, covered petition campaigns, ran funding pleas, and reported on anti-slavery movement meetings. The arts were also mustered to spread the word. Poets reflected the growing protests: Coleridge won a gold medal for his Ode Against the Slave Trade and William Wordsworth described the growing protests in 1792 as ‘a whole nation crying with one voice’ (Hochschild, 2005:226). Posters, medallions, and brooches were produced incorporating Josiah Wedgewood’s famous 1787 engraving of a kneeling and chained slave supplicating: ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ Parliamentary reform: The Representation of the People Act 1832 (1832 Reform Act) extensively changed the electoral system of England and Wales and increased the electorate from around 366,000 to 650,000 (Phillips & Wetherell, 1995). Two-thirds of those who supported slavery lost their seats and the proslavery West India Lobby lost its political leverage. How was this possible? The historiography of abolitionism identifies two factors: the spectre of revolution spreading from France to the British Isles and the organisation and momentum of the abolition campaign inspiring the reform movement (e.g., Blackburn, 2011; Hochschild, 2005). Though a few parliamentarians worked hard to introduce bill after bill calling for an end to the slave trade, most resisted. The success of the abolition movement was therefore not a case of the ruling politicians leading the way. Hochschild (2005:307) quoted the Edinburgh Review, which concluded that ‘the sense of the nation has pressed abolition upon our rulers’. With the French Revolution very much in mind and despite great interest in protecting their privileges, both houses of parliament passed the 1832 Reform Act in fear of social unrest and pressured by strong public opinion. Although in England, four out of five adult males and all women still were ineligible to vote after the reform, it radically changed the composition of parliament. Parliamentarians with strong economic ties to the sugar and slave trades were almost halved in number as an immediate result (Hochschild, 2005). The reform movement was modelled on the abolition campaign, making use of the mass media, distributing pamphlets, holding mass meetings, and mustering support for petitions to parliament.

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Table 3.1 Types of abolition of slavery.

War-driven/immediate Policy-driven/gradual

State-overturning

State-preserving

Haiti Cuba

USA Jamaica

Source: Sheller, 2000.

3.7.1 The Unending Struggle for Emancipation After the British abolition, slavery remained in the Americas for some time. Slavery ended in the Danish colonies in 1848, in the Dutch Surinam in 1863, and in North America two years later, after the US Civil War, when the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (except as a punishment for crime). Emancipation was not passed in Cuba until 1880 and in Brazil eight years later. Mimi Sheller (2000) provides a simplified schema of various paths to emancipation in the Americas, ranging from those that led to states being overturned to those that preserved the existing statehood, from those driven by war ending in the immediate liberation of slaves to those driven by policy and gradually resulting in full emancipation (Table 3.1). Of course, these types were not always clear-cut, as countries that experienced war-driven emancipation also saw policy-driven initiatives (Blackburn, 2011), but the schema provides a useful overview of the contrasting paths to emancipation in the Americas. As the celebrations of the British Slavery Abolition Act 1833 faded, it became evident that the conditions of the African population remained dire in the British colonies, to the disappointment of abolitionists and freed slaves. Racialised social structures remained and, although they were freed, many former slaves were exploited under indentured servitude. Struggling for their livelihoods, many were forced into long-term contracts with their former masters, and local edicts threatened to imprison as vagrants those not involved in agricultural labour. In addition, land regulations limited the employment choices of most ex-slaves to agricultural wage labour. The need for cheap labour in combination with resistance from the former slaves led plantation owners to import labourers from India and other parts of the British Empire, and most former slaves remained in poverty. Similar experiences followed emancipation elsewhere in the Americas (Blackburn, 2011). The struggle for real emancipation continued and, depressingly, it still does. Slavery has remained in many parts of the world, either overtly or covertly, so much so that the 2015 UN decision on the Sustainable Development Goals clearly refers to modern slavery with regard to Goal 8, to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and

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sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’. The UN urges member countries to: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms. (SDG 8.7)

This is a stark reminder that although one form of slavery has been abolished, abuse of fellow human beings lingers in much of the modern world. Despite major historical advances in liberty and equity, the struggle against exploitation remains. 3.7.2 The Abolition of Slavery as Analogous to Societal Transformations towards Sustainability As discussed above, several factors contributed to making the abolition movement successful in the UK, while abolition was realised more slowly in other countries. A crucial difference between Britain and the USA, Brazil, and Cuba, the last countries to abolish slavery in the Americas, was that there were no slaves in the British Isles. Abolishing slavery threatened the livelihood and way of life of plantation owners, slave-ship owners, and some tradesmen, but had little effect on the daily lives of most Britons and did not, as in the USA, threaten to cause a civil war. Is the key point of this analogy that the crucial factor is whether a transformation directly challenges a society’s way of life? This is only partly the case, as other European countries with no slaves in their homelands took longer to abolish both the slave trade and slavery itself in their colonies. Second, in the end, slavery was also abolished in countries where slavery was more prevalent, sometimes violently, as in the USA, and other times more peacefully, as in Jamaica. Analogies are powerful sense-making devices that help in coming to grips with and describing new phenomena and situations, as well as in anticipating and passing judgement on potential future developments (Schwarz-Plaschg, 2018; Wibeck et al., 2017; Wyatt, 2004). Although analogies can at times be invoked as blueprints, more often, and more productively, they are used as objects of comparison, reference points, and navigation marks in reflecting on the bearings of one’s own situation. While the remainder of this book explores analogies used by various actors in the media, climate negotiations, and focus groups as one way to gain insight into how these actors make sense of transformations, here we use the historiography of the abolition of slavery as a starting point for reflecting on current ideas of decarbonisation. This analogy should of course be used with caution. The varied paths towards emancipation

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illustrate the difficulties of using a single transformation experience as a template for a different country – not to mention that we now live in a very different world and that our fossil-fuel-based economy poses a very different challenge. Taking these caveats into account, there are still lessons to be learnt from previous societal transformations, such as the abolition of slavery, that over very short periods turned the unimaginable into concrete large-scale action. In his 2005 book, Hochschild (2005:86) makes an analogy between criticism of automobiles and the abolition of slavery: For reasons of global warming, air quality, traffic, noise, and dependence on oil, one can argue, the world might be better off without cars. . . . Even if you depend on driving to work, it’s possible to agree there’s a problem. A handful of dedicated environmentalists try to practice what they preach, and travel only by train, bus, bicycle, or foot. Yet does anyone advocate a movement to ban automobiles from the face of the Earth? Similarly, despite the uneasiness some people in the late-eighteenth-century England clearly had about slavery, to actually abandon it seemed a laughable dream. (Hochschild, 2005:86)

This analogy is interesting for two reasons. First, it tellingly illustrates how entrenched even morally questionable practices can be. Second, Hochschild made the analogy in 2005. Just as sentiments on slavery changed rather rapidly, the acceptance of banning internal-combustion engine cars is picking up momentum. Thirteen major cities around the world are starting processes to phase out cars from their centres, with Oslo, the capital of Norway, leading the way with its 2015 decision to ban cars in its city centre by 2019 (Garfield, 2018). Another analogy that could be made is that paying compensation to plantation owners for their economic losses when slavery was abolished, rather than to the enslaved, partly mirrors the debate about compensation to oil producers in today’s climate diplomacy. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other oil-producing states have demanded compensation for economic losses incurred because of stricter mitigation agreements, whereas others are concerned with the moral logic and urge that those who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change or do not have the means to invest in a low-carbon transformation should receive any funds mustered by the international community. The fear of losing out economically relative to other countries, particularly current rivals, is a familiar argument against any domestic action to address transnational challenges. The British concern that France would fill the void left by the British abolition of the slave trade and come to dominate the world sugar market is a type of argument that is echoed today. It features in all countries arguing against showing climate change leadership by taking significant action before other countries. It is interesting to note that, once successful, however, the progress of

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abolition has typically been celebrated in national historiographies (Blackburn, 2011). It remains to be seen what actors will take the lead in rapidly setting the world on a decarbonisation course and guiding societal transformations towards sustainability. As in the abolition movement, international climate politics has seen increasing engagement among civil society groups, business leaders, and local governments pushing for decarbonisation (Bäckstrand et al., 2017; Kuyper et al., 2018). This engagement is now seen as essential to governing sustainable development. In a way, it has led to evolutionary change in the international governance system, particularly in climate change governance, in which the role of non-state actors was formally acknowledged in the decision of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Several governance scholars have identified a hybrid multilateralism in the Paris Agreement, in which states are no longer the sole authorities. The failure to deliver an effective international agreement has led to a search for new ways to govern climate change internationally. State-led action is being combined with the Climate Convention’s effort to orchestrate transnational action, as well as non-state initiatives (Kuyper et al., 2018). Here, just as in the abolition movement, a range of arguments is being invoked to motivate and justify change. As noted by climate communication researchers, earlier narrow framings of climate change as solely an environmental issue are giving way to the co-existence of multiple framings in public debate (Wibeck, 2014a; Zia & Todd, 2010), highlighting, for example, the moral and justice dimensions, security dimensions, economic dimensions (Zia & Todd, 2010), and public health benefits of taking climate action (Maibach et al., 2010). How far can we take analogies? Though abolition can be cited as an example of shifting values aligning with new political and economic interests and power politics, it can equally be used as an example of how one type of exploitation within capitalism can be remedied by internal adjustment within the economic system itself. It can also be maintained that the agents of capitalism simply shifted the means of capital generation: from slavery to the more profitable exploitation of working classes and contract labourers, other species, and natural resources around the world. Nevertheless, it can inspire that contrary to the conventional belief at a time, it is possible to change a horrible situation fairly rapidly. 3.8 Implications for Sustainability Transformations Understanding social change is one of the profound challenges in social science. This chapter has presented a few examples of how transformation can be understood, in terms of both macro-transformations affecting whole cultures over the world, and in terms of smaller-scale, particular transformations that also came to affect society profoundly. The scholarly literature presents many underlying

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PACE Rapid

Quantum leap (e.g., Fourth Industrial Revolution) SYSTEM

Convergent (e.g., abolition of slavery in the British Empire)

Entire civilisation (e.g., Neolithic Revolution) Emergent

Particular segments of a civilisation

(e.g., city transport at the turn of the 20th century) Gradual

Protracted

Figure 3.1 A schematic typology of societal transformations: historical examples. The y-axis indicates the pace of transformations and the x-axis the scale of the transformed systems.

theories of how change occurs and to what extent it can be steered, if at all. We return to this matter in Chapter 7, ‘Governing transformations’. Looking at these historical examples, two defining features of transformation stand out. One is the scale of the societal system being transformed. A system can basically be defined as ‘an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something’ (Meadows, 2008:11), but where the system boundaries are drawn is not a given. To understand transformations it is crucial to scrutinise how actors draw the boundaries of the systems to which they are referring. The other feature is the speed at which a transformation is taking place. We build upon Robert F. Durant and Paul F. Diehl’s (1989) typology of policies for transforming US Foreign Policy arenas, to distinguish between these two aspects of transformations. Figure 3.1 gives a schematic picture of types of transformation along two axes. On the y-axis we have the temporal scale indicating the pace at which a transformation can occur: from the very long period of the Neolithic transformation to the relatively fast 50-year period of the British abolition. The x-axis presents the scale of the system that is transformed, from entire civilisations, such as the mega (major) shifts of the Great European transformation, to the particular (singularised) transformations for instance of transport systems in cities at the

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turn of the century. Durant and Diehl (1989:196) use the evolutionary inspired concept ‘Phyletic transformation’ for the end of the right end of the x-axis to make an analogy with evolutionary change that never branches out, but continues to descend in a single line. That would, for instance, be the case if a renewable energy transformation would never branch out to transformations in other sectors or across society. The cases of industrialisation and modernisation show that even when there is agreement that a major transformation has occurred, there can be a huge range of opinions about what it entails and about its essential qualities, causes, and effects. Analyses of previous historical and emergent transformations provides insights into how transformations can be framed, insights worth keeping in mind as we turn to contemporary articulations of sustainability aspirations. We will address these in the next four chapters. Making sense of transformation ultimately also involves looking at the historical changes underlying specific macro-transformations, whether in society or in nature. The discourse of transformation towards sustainability rarely takes account of the element of societal collapse and loss of complexity, considered central by some scholars of the transformation of past civilisations, such as Tainter (1988), Diamond (2005), and Friedman and Friedman (2008). Rather, the sustainability transformation literature seems to consider predominantly what Butzer and Endfield (2012:3631) have called ‘voluntary transformations’ to distinguish them from transformations accompanying collapse: ‘Voluntary transformation can be painful, but it does offer hope for reconstitution and recovery’. To Butzer (2012), the transformations of Western Europe between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, which he cites as examples of societies averting looming environmental crises by means of sociotechnical innovations, provide a lesson for today’s sustainability discussions. Much of the current alarmist literature that claims to draw from historical experience is poorly focused, simplistic, and unhelpful. It fails to appreciate that resilience and readaptation depend on identified options, improved understanding, cultural solidarity, enlightened leadership, and opportunities for participation and fresh ideas. (Butzer, 2012:3632)

Despite Butzer’s (2012) uplifting optimism, the question remains as to whether his analysis suffices as an explanation of transformational change. Was the change voluntary? Did people just decide to invent modernity, for example? One deeper question to which this book returns concerns what conditions are required for such things to happen. Another question is what these analogies are examples of. Industrialisation, for example, is hardly a model of benevolent change. For a long time, in fact, many thought it was a dreadful transformation, as even a cursory reading of Charles Dickens suggests. Many still think that industrialisation was the

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cause of our current sustainability problems, rather than offering hope for their solution (Hornborg, 2016). The fears and hopes around the ongoing technology shifts reflect these concerns. Where we choose to focus our attention, what perspective we emphasise, how we envision what needs to be transformed, what drivers of change we assume, and the ultimate goal all determine how transformations are presented and made sense of. Also, similar to Hobsbawm’s (1962:1) call to distinguish the features of ‘the great revolution’, such as ‘capitalist industry’ and ‘liberty of the middle class’, we need to be mindful and specific about the specific actors, target groups, and locations of the envisioned transformations. This brings us to the last, and perhaps most fundamental, question concerning historical transformations. To what extent can transformations be governed, and to what extent are they parts of processes far too complex to manage, exceeding the ability of our managerial aspirations? Depending on how we view the drivers of the macro-transformation of Europe, the answer will differ. To Polanyi, the power interests behind the transformation were the drivers, so regulating the market was essential, though the notion of the superiority of a ‘self-regulating market’ must ultimately be abandoned. If we see modernisation as the main way to understand the transformation, the extent to which we can govern the process also needs to take into account, for instance, the emergence of new forms of social organisation, underlying modes of power, and changes in cultural values. Regarding any historical transformation, the literature unsurprisingly suggests competing causalities: religion, population growth, ideas, institutions, economic and technological change, ecological conditions, and depleting resource bases. Are there any general drivers of transformation throughout history, or is every transformation, whether macro or more particular, unique? If anything, these examples illustrate the many interacting environmental, social, cultural, technological, and economic features that influence the transformation of systems. They remind us that we cannot make progress towards identifying whether any current visions of sustainability transformation are possible without identifying its primary drivers. In the next chapter we will return to these manifold aspirations of transformations across societies as they are expressed in research, media and international politics.

Part II Varieties of Transformations to Sustainability

4 Global Arenas of Transformations

Speaking to a General Assembly packed with heads of state and governments from around the world, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in 2015 hailed the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as ‘a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is a universal, integrated, and transformative vision for a better world’ (UN Secretary General, 2015). This was not the first time ‘transformative’ was used to describe the ultimate goal of a political agenda. In development economics, the transformation concept had long been used to capture the combined process of structural change in the centre of gravity of a country’s economy and development (Syrquin, 1988). Many African countries had embarked on a policy process to look into ways to spur such transformations to raise their income levels (Breisinger & Diao, 2008). Moreover, academia had already made calls for sustainability transformations, as there was a small steady stream of research grappling with the concept. From time to time, the concept had been used in the international news media to refer to actions addressing climate and environmental change or broader sustainable development issues. Yet, the UN summit was the first time that almost all nations agreed to take transformative action, and as such it was a true milestone. In the lead-up to the UN summit, the research community was paying increasing attention to transformation, mirrored by growing interest in the international media. As we discuss in this chapter, this trend has continued to become a major framing of the goals and actions of sustainable development today. In this chapter, we analyse how the transformation concept has been used in describing or advocating change towards sustainable development or in addressing climate change in international contexts. First, we consider the general traits of the research field, how it has developed, and what issues it has considered over time. Then we discuss how sustainability transformations have been approached in the news media in various parts of the world. Finally, we turn to how transformations have been conceptualised in international politics. In particular, we turn our 63

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attention to the transformational rationale of the UN SDGs and the many visions of transformation outlined in numerous countries’ contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement. We focus on climate change because not only is the Paris Agreement a major international agreement directly linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but the contributions to the agreement constitute the first international platform in which countries have outlined their visions and efforts to tackle a significant sustainability issue. It is a smorgasbord offering nearly global coverage of climate actions in the context of sustainable development. Here we can find some clues not only to whether transformations are regarded as necessary in order to reach climate goals, but also to how they are framed in various national contexts. 4.1 Societal Transformations in the Research Literature Scientific writing on societal transformations has a long and scattered history. As Chapter 3 illustrated, transformative societal change has been discussed by historians, sociologists, economists, and other scholars since the early nineteenth century. However, so far few analyses have tried to capture the growing field of transformations to sustainability (e.g., Chappin & Ligtvoet, 2014; Fazey et al., 2018; Feola, 2015; Nalau & Handmer, 2015). While a growing literature treats specific examples of transformation, the literature on the methodological and theoretical aspects of transformation has been scant. Comparative studies of how transformation is enacted and understood around the world are even rarer (Driessen et al., 2013; Feola, 2015). However, this situation is rapidly changing. A Scopus database search of the peer-reviewed literature on societal transformations (Figure 4.1) reveals a research area that, after decades of slow activity, is now growing rapidly in breadth and scope. Total peer-reviewed journal output has roughly doubled every nine years since the Second World War and the number of papers in the Thompson Web of Science has a growth rate of 3 per cent per year (Nature, 2014). Still, the sustained surge of an academic output does not fully match the trend of transformation papers, which tripled in the last nine years that are included in our analysis (Figure 4.1). Looking into how Scopus classifies the subject areas of the peer-reviewed literature on societal transformations, we find a research field dominated by the social sciences, six of ten identified papers being classified as such. This area is followed, in descending order, by about one-fifth of papers within arts and humanities, and just under 10 per cent each within: business, management, and accounting; environmental science; medicine; and economics, econometrics, and finance. Moreover, the multidisciplinary character of the research field is illustrated by the many papers coded in more than one subject area. Over half of the papers originate

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1960 1962 1964 1966 1968 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016

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Figure 4.1 Number of peer-reviewed papers on societal transformation found in Scopus (for the search string, see Chapter 2).

from the USA, the UK, Germany, Canada, and Australia, with US-based papers accounting for nearly one-third of all papers identified by our Scopus search. The scholarly literature on societal transformations has shifted in its forms and focal points over time. We can discern three distinctive periods of research since 1970. The first, 1970–1999, is characterised by dispersedness and a wide range of topics. Economics, population, and identity start to emerge as focal points of the analysis, although a wide variety of keywords co-exist. It is worth noting that environment or sustainability do not even appear on the map of recurrent keywords in the literature on societal transformations between 1970 and 1999. The same goes for education, a key topic in, for instance, media texts on societal transformation. As far as the geographical scope of the literature is concerned, the keyword analysis of the first period indicates a focus on France, Japan, Europe, India, the UK, and Israel. The second period – that is, the first decade of the 2000s – saw a consolidation of topics in the literature. During this period, sustainability and sustainable development start to appear to a limited extent as keywords in the scholarly literature. Although climate change became a frequent topic in public discourse at this time, this is not mirrored in the keywords of the research literature on societal transformations. The countries and regions included in the list of keywords are: Poland, Russia, Turkey, Europe, Asia, Africa, China, India, the USA/America, and Australia. In the third period, 2010–2016, the research literature becomes even more clearly characterised by bisection, as two major clusters now dominate the literature. One cluster relates to critical social science and humanities aspects of

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transformation. The second cluster reflects a more managerial perspective. Possibly replacing sustainability and sustainable development, environment surfaces as one of the dominant keywords in the second cluster during the third wave of research. A small cluster lying between these two major ones encompasses governance, civil society, and social issues. In this period, energy emerges as a more prominent keyword than before, in the margins of the second environment–technology–education cluster. In spite of the surge of papers on climate change, it is still marginal in the map of frequent keywords in the transformation literature.1 Countries and regions appearing among the frequent keywords are: China, Russia, Canada, India, Turkey, and the EU. Although sustainability or sustainable development are not dominant keywords per se in the peer-reviewed literature on societal transformations, many of the highlighted topics relate to various aspects of sustainability. In their 2014 review of the transition and transformation literature, Chappin and Ligtvoet (2014:720, emphasis in original) concluded that ‘in transformation literature, energy and sustainability are often placed within a larger change process, such as economic development, demographics, or the change from a communist to a capitalist society. Also, there seem to be fewer normative, prescriptive approaches and more inquisitive, historical practices.’ In contrast, in our broader literature review, we see a hands-on solution-oriented tendency. We can see that interest on the part of the climate research community has been rather low, at least in connecting transformation analyses directly to climate change analysis. Sustainability and sustainable development has played a marginal role in the transformation literature, while environment, technology, information, and management emerged as important keywords during the studied period. The field has bifurcated into one stream of applied, technological, and management-centred research, and another of critical interpretive studies of the conceptual and socio-cultural fundamentals of transformation. 4.2 Societal Transformations in International News Media As news stories dealing with the why, what, and how of transformation spread in the international media, the complexities of grappling with transformations towards sustainability have become increasingly evident. In international media discourse, the transformation concept has clearly displayed its elasticity and numerous potential meanings. 1

In the first period, 1970–1999, climate change was a keyword in only two articles. In the second period, 2000–2009, climate change was a keyword in twenty-nine articles – that is, 1.5 per cent of the whole sample for this period. In the third period, 2010–2016, 132 articles contained climate change as a keyword – that is, 4 per cent of the whole sample for this period.

4.2 Societal Transformations in International News Media Articles on transformation and sustainability

(b)

Articles on climate change

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250,000

Number of articles

Number of articles

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25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 0

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200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000 0

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Year

Year

Figure 4.2 Comparison of international media coverage of (a) transformations towards sustainability and (b) climate change. Number of articles, 2007–2016, identified in the Retriever database. Search words: (a) transformation* AND sustainab*; (b) ‘climate change’.

Understanding how topics emerge and are framed in the news media is important for anyone interested in the shaping of public opinion. As noted by Maxwell T. Boykoff (2007), we live in a rapidly shifting media landscape in which the traditional media’s few-to-many communication faces increasing competition via social media outlets, where a broader spectrum of voices are heard. Yet, the mass media continue to play important agenda-setting roles. Mass media coverage contributes to raising public awareness, drawing attention to particular topics, and legitimising public and policy discussions (Barnes et al., 2008; Bonfadelli, 2010; Holt & Barkemeyer, 2012; McCombs & Shaw, 1972; Schmidt et al., 2013). In the words of an oft-cited argument of Bernard Cohen (1963:13), who first launched the agenda-setting hypothesis: the media ‘may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think but is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about’. The ten-year period, 2007–2016, saw a rapid increase in media attention, especially since 2012 in the nearly 160,000 media items on transformations and sustainability that we identified in our Retriever database search. The increasing frequency in international media coverage in various countries reflects a growing public discourse on sustainability transformations (see Figure 4.2, left-hand panel). The upward trend in the media coverage of transformation and sustainability levelled out between 2014 and 2016 at approximately 30,000 items per year, representing a twenty-fold increase in seven years. In the following two years coverage decreased, and was down to around 24,500 items in 2018, but the first quarter of 2019 saw an all-time high in the number of articles, with almost as many items published from January to March as in all of 2018. However, it is too early to draw any conclusions about whether the coverage has levelled out after the rapid increase since 2012, or whether the coming years will witness new peaks in media attention.

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When narrowing the search to media items explicitly addressing social or societal transformations and sustainability, we obtain a much more limited sample: 2,766 items in total between 2007 and 2018. Here again, we see media attention taking off in 2012, decreasing in 2017 and 2018 compared with previous years, and showing signs of rapidly increasing again in 2019. What is perhaps more interesting than the actual numbers of articles is the pattern of media attention to items on sustainability transformations. To put this in perspective, the pattern could be compared to the international media coverage of climate change, which differs in overall frequency and in distribution over time. Whereas the topic of climate change received about ten times more international media coverage than did transformation or sustainability during the time period represented in the left-hand panel of Figure 4.2, media attention to climate change was uneven, with marked peaks in 2009, the year of COP15 in Copenhagen, and 2015, coinciding with COP21 and the Paris Agreement (Figure 4.2, right-hand panel). The salience of climate-related issues and the pattern of peaks in media attention to climate change correspond to what other studies have identified (e.g., Boykoff, 2011; Schmidt et al., 2013). In fact, fluctuating media attention with clear peaks is identified as typical of coverage of most topics (Schmidt et al., 2013). In view of this, we note with interest that the media coverage of transformation and sustainability differs from the standard pattern of media attention, as it lacks clear peaks but also displays no deep dips in attention during our study period. We can only speculate as to why we see this pattern. One could argue that the major hype surrounding COP15 and COP21, which were expected to deliver an agreement, makes climate a special case. Still, the Rio +20 Conference in 2012 and the UN Summit on SDGs in 2015 could be expected to have had a similar catalysing role, which we do not find. Another possible explanation is that, since both transformation and sustainability can take on many meanings, they are broad enough concepts to be used as background for a variety of more specific topics, and might therefore be less susceptible to the ups and downs of media issue attention cycles. As discussed later in this chapter, however, we can observe variations over time in how sustainability transformations have been framed, for example, as regards the risk-versus-opportunity framing. While including articles from all continents, the media material on social or societal transformations and sustainability is clearly overweight in articles from developing countries. For example, Bangladesh, China, India, Jamaica, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe are among the countries where sustainability transformations feature in the media discourse. The Rio +20 Conference and the years following have coincided with a monumental surge in media coverage, but what, specifically, do these articles

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Development Social People Economic New World Government Africa Business Country National Transformation Growth Education Global 0

2,000

4,000

6,000

8,000

10,000

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Number of uses

Figure 4.3 The fifteen most frequent keywords in international news media coverage of societal transformations towards sustainability, 2007–2018.

talk about? How do they frame sustainability transformations? As with the research literature and policy documents, the concept of societal transformations articulated in the media debate is open to multiple framings. International media coverage of social/societal transformations towards sustainability mainly employs social sustainability and economic growth frames, drawing less on environmental sustainability frames. Looking at frequently used words in the media material, words such as ‘environment’ or ‘ecological’ do not even appear among the top fifteen most frequent words, while words such as ‘people’, ‘education’, ‘economic’, ‘business’, and ‘growth’ are recurrently mentioned in the texts. Energy and technology frames are also largely absent. Moreover, societal transformations are discussed from the global and transnational as well as the national perspectives. The texts frequently refer to the world or the African continent, as well as highlighting the roles of countries and national governments. The most frequently employed word in the media texts is ‘development’ (10,314 mentions), which is more than twice as common as, for example, ‘business’ (4,781) or ‘education’ (4,265) (see Figure 4.3). There are some interesting differences in the framing of transformations depending on in which context the concept is used. When we looked at the concept framed as sustainability transformations omitting the attribute ‘societal’ the focus was

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more on business and finance.2 The word-frequency analysis also suggests that transformation articles with an explicit climate change focus are more concerned with energy, mitigating GHG emissions, and international climate policy and governance (see Table 4.1). Media coverage of sustainability transformations with a particular focus on climate change seems to attract more attention in high-income countries in the Global North than coverage with another focus. This is in line with the results of previous studies that demonstrate that climate change is more salient in media coverage in the Global North (Barkemeyer et al., 2013; Boykoff, 2011; Schmidt et al., 2013), whereas media coverage in the Global South tends to focus more on other sustainability challenges, such as corruption and poverty (Barkemeyer et al., 2013; Hellsten et al., 2014). In addition to the expected news stories from European and US news outlets, such as the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and the Guardian, climate-related media stories during COP22 surged in English-language news outlets in the Arabian Peninsula. Around one in ten items in our climaterelated sample comes from English-language media in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Jordan, although some of these items are opinion pieces authored by European writers. These articles are mainly of two types, representing two divergent views of climate action. One advocates a more incremental approach within present economic and political systems, advancing Saudi Arabia’s agenda for COP22, which emphasises meeting ‘the world’s energy needs through the gradual shift towards a more sustainable environmental future, while taking into account that this transformation must remain economically and sustainably viable from an environmental perspective’ (Ashara Al Awsat, 2016; cf. Arab News, 2016). The other type comprises opinion pieces by European writers advocating systemic societal transformations and global decarbonisation efforts to achieve the targets and ambitions of the Paris Agreement (Fuhr, 2016a, 2016b, 2016c; Schellnhuber et al., 2016). For example, the author of an opinion piece published in Arab News (Fuhr, 2016a), the Jordan Times (Fuhr, 2016c), and the Gulf Times (Fuhr, 2016b) concluded that ‘mainstream politics, by definition, is ill equipped to imagine fundamental change. But last December in Paris, 196 governments agreed on the need to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – an objective that holds the promise of delivering precisely such a transformation’ (Fuhr, 2016b). This statement should be seen in the context of debate preceding the Paris Agreement. The next-to-last draft of the agreement had two options for achieving 2

As outlined in Chapter 2, Retriever database searches 2 and 3 provided a point of reference for search 1, rather than giving a full picture of media coverage over time. This is why the time span covered differs between the searches.

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Table 4.1 Most frequent keywords used in international news media coverage. Retriever database search Retriever database search 1: ‘Soci* transformation*’ 2: Transformation* AND AND sustainab* sustainab* World Environment Day 2007–2016 2015–2016

Retriever database search 3: Transformation* AND sustainab* AND ‘climate change’

Development Social People Economic New World Africa Government Business Country National Growth Transformation Education Global Year Sustainable Public Years African Economy Countries South Work Change

Climate Change Energy World Global New Countries Sustainable Development Paris Now Sector Government Action Agriculture Carbon Africa Need Emissions Agreement Time Urban Green Support Policy

Million* Year Company Business New Quarter Financial Global Development Operating Loss World Growth People Services Results Sustainable Compared Time Ended Africa Years Companies Months Energy

COP22, 2016

Comparison of search terms for: social/societal transformations and sustainability, 1 January 2007–31 December 2016; transformation and sustainability on Earth Day 2015–2017; and transformations, sustainability transformations, and climate change during COP22, 7–18 November 2016. * The word ‘million’ was mostly used to refer to money, but also to, for example, humans, water, and employment.

the global temperature goal of a maximum temperature increase of 2°C or possibly 1.5°C versus pre-industrial levels. The draft, which conveyed the two options in brackets containing alternative wordings that indicate disagreements, stated that

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the temperature goal could be achieved ‘through a global low emissions [transformation towards [climate neutrality][decarbonisation] over the course of the century’ (UNOOSA, 2013:3). According to negotiators to whom we have spoken, fossil-energy producers objected to the decarbonisation language and the word ‘transformation’ was ultimately taken out as well, leaving the agreement with the more fuzzy long-term goal to, in the second half of the twenty-first century, balance the emissions of anthropogenic GHGs with how much GHGs can be captured and stored through sinks, such as forests or carbon dioxide removal technologies. So, it is a clear message to decarbonisation and transformation opponents in oilproducing countries when the article’s author articulates a view of transformation as ‘fundamental change’, which differs significantly from the ‘gradual shift’ advocated in the media articles on Saudi Arabia’s COP22 agenda. It is obvious that the media coverage and framing of societal transformations towards sustainability differs from that of climate change. Other voices are heard in media stories on societal transformations, particularly voices from the Global South, where the media landscape has so far been much less researched (Barkemeyer et al., 2013; Schäfer & Schlichting, 2014). With this broader pattern in the background, an in-depth analysis gives us a richer understanding of how sustainability transformations can be framed around the globe. In the following, we explore various facets of transformation addressed in our sample of media texts on societal transformations and sustainability from 2007 to 2016. 4.2.1 Transformation Scale, Scope, and Approaches The dominant frame when it comes to the scale of societal transformations – employed by more than half of the articles in our sample – is a domestic and/or local frame, highlighting problems, strategies, and impacts for local or national target audiences. Moreover, almost six in ten articles refer to particular transformations of specific societal sectors rather than to major transformations of whole societies, such as transportation in South Africa (van Wyk, 2016), the role of big data and digital technologies in sustainable city planning in Copenhagen (Marketwired, 2016), and the role of the performing arts in societal transformation in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean region (Reckord, 2013). Two frames dominate the media coverage on particular as well as mega transformations: one characterised by a visionary approach and another by a pragmatic approach to transformation. The visionary framing emphasises the need for ‘fundamental changes’ (Scattergood, 2013), to ‘think big’ (Bloomberg, 2015), and to ‘dramatically change’, for instance, current energy systems (Gitlin & Kinniburgh, 2016) or education systems (Bloomberg, 2015). Metaphorical language, such as ‘deep’ transformations (e.g., Alcorn, 2016), ‘sweeping societal transformation’

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(Xinhua News Agency, 2011), ‘a complete break with the past, equitable and democratic’ (Sanwal, 2013b), and ‘giant strides’ as opposed to ‘baby steps’ (Scattergood, 2013), helps reinforce the difference between transformational change and incremental adjustments. In the visionary framing, for example, articles talk about ‘reshaping the world order that until now has served the resources and security needs of 20 percent of the global population into one that will benefit all of humanity’ (Sanwal, 2013a), cite actors who argue that ‘business as usual is not an option’ (Schwartz, 2011), or discuss the need for ‘changed settlement and consumption patterns and better social values’ (Xinhua News Agency, 2011). Moreover, several articles compare sustainability transformations to the Industrial Revolution (cf. Chapter 3). In doing so, the texts categorise sustainability transformations as analogous in scope but particularise them as distinct in time frames. If the visionary framing emphasises that transformation entails new, large-scale, systemic change – or ‘giant strides’ rather than ‘baby steps’ – the pragmatic framing instead draws on the perhaps counter-intuitive notion of ‘stepwise transformations’, an incremental transformative change. For example, in an opinion piece on higher education in South Africa, the authors argue that ‘systemic and societal transformations do not happen in a single moment. If anything, they result from the accumulation of smaller social reforms that then collectively transform our society’ (Habib & Bawa, 2016). Similarly, another opinion piece in the Irish Times (Naughten, 2016) calls for a piecemeal approach to large-scale sustainability challenges: ‘Global issues almost too huge to grasp can be distributed as opportunities and as obligations – one household, one business, one country at a time – across the world.’ The article continues with a call for awareness of the context in which societal changes take place: ‘in making this enormous transition, we must also be mindful of today’s reality’. A similar example is again found in the opinion piece on higher education in South Africa, which states that ‘social change has to happen within its context, and not in an idealised fantasy world’ (Habib & Bawa, 2016). The pragmatic framing emphasises linking existing ongoing transformative changes rather than initiating or inventing them. For example, an article on a report from a scientific conference before the 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations that appeared in similar forms in various media sources calls for both the ‘climate-smart evolution of existing structures’ and ‘large-scale transformational measures’, arguing that ‘linking climate change with broader sustainable consumption and production concerns, human rights issues and democratic values is crucial for shifting societies towards more sustainable development pathways’ (Science Daily, 2009).

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4.2.2 Transformation Goals What should societies be transforming towards? In simple terms, media coverage has treated the objectives of societal transformations in two ways: as turning towards desired goals or as turning away from looming catastrophes – in other words, moving towards a better future versus avoiding worsening conditions. This is a crucial distinction in starting points, reflecting a deep-seated theme in environmental debate: which is more effective in spurring action, emphasising opportunities or risks? We return to this question in Chapter 8. Featuring optimistic prospects is by far the most common rhetorical approach in the media material and includes framing the goals of societal transformations in positive although often vague terms, such as attaining peaceful, prosperous, and inclusive societies. The goal is to ‘make this world a better place for our children and their children’ according to the interviewee in an Al Jazeera (Essa, 2015) news story. Similarly, commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a Guardian piece describes ‘a vision of a world where all children survive and develop to their full potential without discrimination, and are protected, respected and encouraged to participate in decisions that affect their lives’ (The Guardian, 2015). Among the more specific goals of societal transformations, several media texts identify the need for inclusive societies, demonstrated, for instance, by gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, poverty reduction, human rights, and democracy. In a similar vein, improved quality of life for citizens is also mentioned as a goal of transformation, along with the increased availability of education. A frequent topic of the media texts in our sample, education is often seen as both a goal of and a means for transforming societies towards sustainability. Two common goals found in policy documents from low- and middle-income countries are also reflected in the media; the aspiration to move up in the development rankings is found in both the Asian and African media, for example: ‘the mission of transforming India into a developed nation’ (The Times of India, 2013) or ‘the long-term vision of making Ethiopia a Middle Income Economy’ (The Ethiopian Herald, 2015). The other common goal, often found in contributions to the Paris Agreement, is to achieve climate resilience and low-carbon economies. Some earlier texts in particular articulate a different conceptualisation of the goal of avoiding severe climate risks and eventual collapse. For example, media stories on the UN’s 2011 annual World Economic and Social Survey reported that ‘we need to radically overhaul our production and consumption processes or potentially destabilise the planet’s ecosystem’ and ‘we don’t have much of a choice if we want to survive as a species’ (Schwartz, 2011) and that ‘humanity is close to breaching the sustainability of Earth, and needs a technological revolution greater and faster

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than the industrial revolution to avoid “a major planetary catastrophe”’ (Xinhua News Agency, 2011). In the summer of 2009, news of a scientific report on climate change written by leading researchers in preparation for COP15 in Copenhagen was published in numerous media outlets, including the Hindu, the Star (of South Africa), the Sydney Morning Herald, South China Morning Post, San Francisco Chronicle, the Globe and Mail, and several others. This news story summarised the main conclusions of the report: societal transformation is necessary in the face of dramatic climatic shifts that are ‘likely to cause major societal and environmental disruptions through the rest of the century and beyond’ (Science Daily, 2009). More recently, an Irish Times opinion piece (Naughten, 2016) stated: ‘Sustaining what we know is familiar against the detrimental change that has begun and that is wreaking a cost in Ireland already requires that we change before climate change changes everything irrevocably.’ As noted, most of the media items framing the goal of transformation as the avoidance of severe climate risks were published in the first half of the studied decade. It is obvious that this science-based news had a large impact in terms of putting climate risks on the international agenda, with similar news articles being published in a range of countries in most continents. Nonetheless, the risk avoidance framing did not remain predominant over the first half of the 2010s, but was soon overshadowed by numerous varied stories, particularly, from the Global South, emphasising a wide range of goals for more sustainable futures. There is also a notable difference in the risk avoidance media stories and the transformation as collapse theme found in the anthropological and environmental academic literature. In the former, transformation is seen as needed to avert collapse, rather than being the outcome of catastrophic disruptions. 4.2.3 Actors and Drivers of Change Broadly, six main types of drivers of change are emphasised in the media material. Politics and political leadership, with their role in governing transformations, are often said to be drivers of change, suggesting that transformations can and should be governed. For example, an opinion piece in the Guardian lamented the political silence about climate change before the 2015 UK elections, stating: ‘What our political leaders say about climate change matters – especially if they say nothing at all . . . the transition ahead hinges on a societal transformation, a transformation which isn’t going to catalyse itself’ (Corner, 2015). Education is also often seen as a driver of societal change, for example, as expressed in an opinion piece published in the Herald (of Zimbabwe): environmental education ‘is a force of socio-economic transformation that is critically

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important in ensuring a holistic environmental management and law enforcement’ (The Herald, 2013) or in the question asked in an opinion piece in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: ‘How can we expect a sustainable future and have more environmental stewards in our midst when environmental education and training is not prioritised by the government and the schools?’ (Ramos, 2008). The role of technology as a leverage mechanism for change is highlighted mainly in relation to environmental sustainability and climate change, as well as in media stories about the development of information and communication technology to promote increased social cohesion and the development of poor and/or rural areas. The economy as an engine of sustainability transformations is rarely mentioned in isolation, although, for example, a shift towards a ‘green economy’ is highlighted in some articles as a tool to achieve sustainable development (Xinhua News Agency, 2012). Another article dealing with fighting poverty and social exclusion in Haiti states that external financing is necessary for achieving the SDGs. However, this would not be enough. Education and citizen engagement are highlighted as other important leverage mechanisms by which social transformations can achieve the SDGs (Tobin, 2016). The role of public engagement, including civil society action and grassroots movements, in driving transformative change is expressed in statements such as: ‘Any serious effort to keep global warming below a catastrophic 2°C requires an unprecedented challenge to the fossil fuel industry from the grassroots’ (Gitlin & Kinniburgh, 2016), or in an article on eco-entrepreneurs in Egypt: ‘This is a grassroots, bottom–up shift . . . People want to solve problems that the government and, at times, the market have failed to fix’ (Zayed, 2016). Finally, visions, values, public perceptions, and communication form a category of directional drivers, illustrated in the following quotes from three continents: ‘a global vision of sharing natural resources and technology. A shared vision of prosperity for the 4 billion people who have yet to benefit from globalisation will provide the legal basis for reshaping the world order’ (Sanwal, 2013a); ‘What binds people together is a common vision and mission’ (Essa, 2015); and, finally, Dissent Magazine salutes environmental leaders embracing ‘a vision of transformative grassroots change’ (Gitlin & Kinniburgh, 2016). Lifestyle change is highlighted as a second-order driver, coming about due to political decisions, awareness-raising activities, and education, or due to grassroots pressure. Many of the articles do not emphasise only one driver of change, or one category of actors as mainly responsible for transformations. Instead, a wide and varied range of change agents are highlighted, including political leaders, business leaders, grassroots organisations, higher education institutions, and individual citizens. Similarly, although politics is the most frequently

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mentioned driver, many articles identify a combination of drivers as the engine of change, emphasising the interplay between various types of drivers and actors in fostering societal change. Many of the media stories from 2012 onwards address the efforts of formulating and implementing international goals for sustainable development. We shall now turn to the process of agreeing on the transformational focus of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

4.3 Transformation Aspirations in Global Sustainability Governance 4.3.1 The Transformative 2030 Agenda ‘We want to change our world, and we can’, German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed to a crowded UN General Assembly on a sunny September day in 2015. World leaders had gathered for a three-day summit on sustainable development marking the seventieth meeting of the UN. After speeches from Pope Francis and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, and songs from Shakira and Angelique Kidjo, the 193 member countries approved global goals to end hunger and poverty, tackle environmental degradation and inequality, and improve education, human security, and well-being throughout the world. After three years of deliberations and negotiations, the seventeen global SDGs (Table 4.2) were applauded by world leaders, and the decision was clothed in the language of transformation. The title of the approved document was Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, most often shortened to simply the 2030 Agenda. In its goal-setting ambition and comprehensive scope, this ultimate global action programme for sustainable development is a landmark in global governance (Kanie & Biermann, 2017). In the preamble, the signatory states boldly affirmed that they ‘are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path’ (UN General Assembly, 2015). The stated time frame was short: through a full commitment to the 2030 Agenda, the world was to be transformed ‘for the better’ by 2030. South Korea echoes the historic role of the 2030 Agenda in its VNR of its contributions to the SDGs: ‘Encompassing universal, transformative, inclusive and integrated goals and targets that herald a historic turning point for our world, the 2030 Agenda is arguably the most comprehensive global agenda adopted since the launch of the current international system in 1945’ (UN, 2016b:2). The SDGs were to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired in 2015. Inspired by the partial success of their predecessors, the new goals were to be assessed through the use of detailed targets and indicators. In contrast to

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Table 4.2 The seventeen UN SDGs. Goal number

Short title

Goal

1 2

No Poverty Zero Hunger

3 4

Good Health and Well-Being Quality Education

5

Gender Equality

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Clean Water and Sanitation Affordable and Clean Energy Decent Work and Economic Growth

End poverty in all its forms everywhere. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation. Reduce inequality within and among countries. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

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Reduced Inequalities Sustainable Cities and Communities Responsible Consumption and Production Climate Action Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Life below Water Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. Life on Land Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. Peace, Justice, and Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for Strong Institutions sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. Partnerships for the Strengthen the means of implementation and Goals revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

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the MDGs, the new 2030 Agenda was much more comprehensive – too wideranging according to some critics, who feared that it would be unmanageable. The goals expanded in number from eight to seventeen and the targets from twenty one to 169. The 2030 Agenda was to apply to all countries in the world, not just to the poorer ones. Economics professor William Easterly sceptically concluded: ‘The SDGs are a mushy collection of platitudes that will fail on every dimension’ (Jack, 2015). On the other hand, the International Council for Science and the International Social Science Council argued in their advanced review of the proposed targets for the SDGs that their preparation and formulation were overly influenced by silo thinking, and that ‘the level of integration is far lower than justified from a science perspective’ (ISSC & ICSU, 2015). According to system science, the seventeen goals overlap and the goals and targets can have both positive and negative synergies – that is, they can reinforce and/or also be in conflict with one another. Rather than calling for a smaller agenda, the councils criticised the lack of system thinking in how the goals and targets were interlinked (ISSC & ICSU, 2015). This criticism was reflected in the final decision: ‘The interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals are of crucial importance in ensuring that the purpose of the new Agenda is realized. If we realize our ambitions across the full extent of the Agenda, the lives of all will be profoundly improved and our world will be transformed for the better’ (UN General Assembly, 2015). The UN general assembly decision emphasised that not only are the 2030 Agenda’s goals and targets transformative in themselves, but that in aiming to realise them, ‘we are setting out a supremely ambitious and transformational vision’. How was this vision to be achieved? Despite the varied and conflicting priorities and geopolitical positions of the 193 signatory countries, there was some agreement on what was required. New policies were needed that could support structural changes, boost production capacities in all sectors in developing countries, increase employment, increase inclusiveness in financing, and promote sustainable agriculture, pastoralism, and fisheries as well as industrial development. Furthermore, universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services was a prerequisite, as was building sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including transport systems. The Sustainable Development Summit in New York marked the end of a threeyear process launched at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The conference was yet another attempt by the UN in its fourdecade effort to spur international collaboration linking environmental protection with economic and social development (Linnér & Selin, 2013). An important outcome was to initiate the process of identifying SDGs. The resolution issued by the conference made no mention of transformation; instead, it referred in rather

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non-committal language to ‘the transition towards sustainable development as a common undertaking’, for which countries could take whatever courses of action were appropriate for their priorities and plans (UN, 2012, para. 59). The following month, the then UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon appointed a high-level panel of ‘eminent’ persons on the post-2015 development agenda. This advisory group of twenty-six members from governments, the private sector, academia, civil society, and youth groups from around the world served to initiate discussions and advise the secretary-general on the global development agenda beyond 2015. The group had three co-chairs: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK. At its third meeting, held in Monrovia in early 2013, the group discussed economic transformation and how it could be spurred to achieve social inclusiveness and environmental protection. The restoration of Monrovia was itself cited as an example: ‘We saw with our own eyes the extraordinary progress that can be made when a country once ravaged by conflict is able to build peace and security’ (UN, 2013a:iv). The output of the panel – a report to the secretary-general entitled A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development – outlined five transformational shifts, applicable to both developed and developing countries (UN, 2013a). The panel concluded that business-as-usual is not a viable alternative but that the world needs a new paradigm, to be achieved through the five transformative shifts. These were: (1) Leave no one behind, which implies eradicating poverty, ending hunger, and safeguarding a basic standard of wellbeing. (2) Put sustainable development at the core. (3) Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth, which means ‘a quantum leap forward in economic opportunities and a profound economic transformation to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods’ (UN, 2013a:2). (4) Build peace and effective, open, and accountable institutions for all. The envisioned transformations also included ‘a fundamental shift – to recognize peace and good governance as core elements of well-being, not optional extras’ (UN, 2013a:9). The fifth and final element, forge a new global partnership, emphasises the change in relationships and attitudes: ‘Perhaps the most important transformative shift is towards a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual accountability that must underpin the post-2015 agenda’ (UN 2013a:v). The panel identified a wide range of actions to drive these five transformations, such as: improving the quality of education and skills; providing higher-quality healthcare; supplying clean water, electricity, telecommunications, and transport infrastructure; upholding the rule of law and property rights, freedom of speech and

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the press, free political choice, and access to justice; and holding government and public institutions accountable. The panel’s report served as key input to the secretary-general’s report to the special event intended to follow up on efforts to achieve the MDGs, marking the beginning of the process to forge a post-2015 development agenda in September 2013 (UNOOSA, 2013). Ban Ki-Moon summarised the main message of the report as calling ‘for major transformative economic and institutional shifts: a new global partnership and a data revolution for monitoring progress and strengthening accountability’ (UN, 2013b:3–4). The UN secretary-general concluded that to ‘realize this agenda, all countries need to recognize the profound transformations required to address the emerging challenges of sustainable development. These include economic shifts to sustainable patterns of production and consumption, effective governance and a renewed global partnership and means of implementation’ (UN, 2013b, para. 116). Two years later, these transformative ambitions were translated into the 2030 Agenda. Just two months after the 2015 UN summit, it was time for the second major catalyst of the UN sustainable development agenda that year: the climate negotiations in Paris in December 2015, which were to deliver the first major global climate agreement in eighteen years. 4.3.2 The Paris Agreement The transformation concept figured in the drafts of the Paris Agreement. As mentioned in the section on media coverage, after long negotiations, the concept was dropped from the final version of the agreement. Still, the concept is often referred to when implementing the Paris Agreement. For instance, enthusiastically addressing the climate negotiations in Bonn in 2017, French president Emmanuel Macron outlined his vision for reaching the Paris goals, frequently referring to the transformation of industrial models, economic practices, energy models, and international aid. Transformation was also invoked by forty-six countries in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted before the implementation of the Paris Agreement.3 Thirty of these countries referred to general societal transformations towards, for example, low-carbon development or climateresilient societies, but also moving from the lower- to upper-income levels. Also in the VNRs of the SDGs, several low- and middle-income countries expressed this to be a primary goal for the sustainability transformations (e.g., Bangladesh, 3

As the countries subsequently ratify the agreement, they drop ‘intended’ (to become NDCs) as these have become their official contributions.

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Kenya, and Nepal). Other countries referred to particular transformations of certain parts of society, such as the energy or transport sector, whereas still others referred to the transformation of values. 4.3.3 Transformation Scale, Scope, and Approaches In the Paris contributions, there are very few distinctions between transformation and other forms of change. Several countries used transition synonymously with transformation, the major distinction being that transformation involves change over a longer time horizon. Costa Rica marked the profoundness of its ambition for an economy-wide transformation to low emissions by calling it a ‘historical commitment’ (UNFCCC, 2015c:10). None of the NDCs refers to immediate transformations. However, the time frame varies significantly, ranging from mid to long term. For instance, in the long-term, Ethiopia ‘intends to achieve its vision of becoming carbon-neutral, with the mid-term goal of attaining middle-income status’ (UNFCCC, 2015a:1). Several low- and middle-income countries specifically referred to existing economic and social transformation strategies. These are typically associated in the INDC titles with an end year for realising the vision, such as the Gambia’s 2020 (UNFCCC, 2015b), Turkmenistan’s 2030 (UNFCCC, 2015d), and Uganda’s 2040 vision (Uganda, 2010). The Gambia’s aspirations may seem to be for rapid transformation; however, the Gambia formulated its vision in 1996, making it a transformation over twenty-four years, which is typically defined as a generation. Mostly transformation is framed as an unequivocally desirable process. There are only a few exceptions. In the Vision 2020 cited in its NDC, the Gambia recognised that social transformation driven by economic development unavoidably creates ‘imbalances’ between the people in a society and the environment. Forming a cohesive, tolerant, egalitarian, and supportive society, distributing resources fairly, and promoting good governance can convert the potentially negative side effects of the Gambia’s economic development into a sustainable transformation (The Gambia, 1995). Bolivia stands out as the only country talking about transformation in distinctly negative terms, and its criticism of capitalist transformation echoes Polanyi’s criticism of self-regulated market transformations: ‘The capitalist system seeks profit without limits, strengthens the divorce between human beings and nature; establishing a logic of domination of men against nature and among human beings, transforming water, earth, the environment, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice and ethics into goods. In this regard, the economic system of capitalism privatizes the common good, commodifies life, exploits human beings,

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plunders natural resources and destroys the material and spiritual wealth of the people’ (UNFCCC, 2015e:2). Broadly, we can see four overarching types of transformation in the countries’ contributions to the Paris Agreement. First, complete, systemic change is economywide or involves entire populations. These are in the minority but are expressed by several low- and middle-income countries. Second, transformation of the energy sector can either result in limited changes or have implications for the entire economy, as energy consumption and production is fundamental to countries’ economies, regardless of whether they are dominated by industry, trade, or agriculture. As the countries were requested to outline how they would reduce GHG emissions, this is hardly surprising. The third is transformation of other specific sectors, such as agriculture, transport, and housing, and the fourth is transformational adaptation to climate change. Then there are what we would call the signalling transformations or, somewhat provocatively, ‘buzzword transformations’. Labelling these signalling transformations does not mean that the countries announcing them are not sincere. However, when we find no substance regarding what is to be transformed, how, or to what end, but only ‘flag-waving’ invoking international initiatives to spur transformation, we regard the expressed transformation as being used to signal the concept itself, rather than conveying specific notions of what such a transformation would concretely entail and lead to. One example of transformation being used directly for support is when Micronesia’s INDC calls for ‘transformational adaptation investment plans’ supported financially by the UNFCCC’s financial mechanisms (UNFCCC, 2015f:4). The Gambia similarly spoke of its ‘comprehensive transformational adaptation investment plan’ for which it expected the Paris Agreement to provide adequate support (UNFCCC, 2015b:9). In all fairness, in the rush to complete their INDCs, many countries relied on consultants who were likely to stress the right international jargon, rather than capturing how transformation was to be made sense of in individual countries. Similarities in formulations between countries could be an indication of consultancy signalling-concept formulations. However, most countries seeking support were explicit of the specific sectors that needed transformative backing. Tonga, for example, referred specifically to the World Bank having seed funds to initiate transformation in electric power distribution systems. 4.3.4 Transformation Goals Transformation goals vary significantly among the INDCs. Most common is to establish low-carbon development as the transformation goal (thirteen), followed by the transformation of energy systems (ten), some type of economic

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transformation (seven), adaptation or climate-resilience transformation (five), agricultural transformation (five), and transformation of other sectors (three). To cite a few examples, Cabo Verde, highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, was early in including the transformation concept in policy reports addressing both mitigation and adaptation (African Development Bank, 2012). Its INDC explicitly emphasises the need for societal transformations promoting low-carbon and climate-resilient development. Uganda aspires to improve quality of life by transforming Ugandan society from ‘a peasant to a modern and prosperous nation’ (UNFCCC, 2015g:3). Moldova spoke of transformation in terms of moving from a centralised to a market economy (UNFCCC, 2015h). Like Cabo Verde, the United Arab Emirates emphasised the significant societal and economic transformations that the country has undergone since it became independent (UNFCCC, 2015i). As mentioned, the transformation plans of several countries, such as Belize, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe, tie into existing plans for economic transformation. This indicates that the concept was in use in many countries well before the SDGs and climate discourse applied the concept to the change needed for a profound turn towards decarbonisation, climate resilience, and the 2030 Agenda. The GHG mitigation goals of several countries, for example, Belize, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Somalia, South Africa, and Tuvalu, rely largely on the significant transformation of these countries’ energy sectors. Referring to its Vision 2020, the Gambia spelled out its goals: ‘to transform The Gambia into a financial centre, a tourist paradise, a trading export-oriented agricultural and manufacturing nation, thriving on free market policies and a vibrant private sector, sustained by a welleducated, skilled, healthy, self-reliant and enterprising population, guaranteeing a well-balanced ecosystem and a decent standard of living for all, under a system of government based on the consent of the citizenry’ (UNFCCC, 2015b:20). Although climate change is not mentioned in the Vision 2020 from 1996, the Gambia’s INDC is framed as supported by its implementation. Food security is the ultimate objective of Nigeria’s agricultural transformation. This entails not only improving yields, but improving diets, enhancing investment in rural communities, and keeping children in school, while reducing imports and thus GHG emissions from transport (UNFCCC, 2015k). Togo is among the countries seeking long-term societal transformation, including of its key sectors of energy, agriculture, land-use change, and forestry, which should make the country an emerging economy within the next fifteen to twenty years (UNFCCC, 2015j). Only a few countries have outlined an entirely different vision of transformation. We mentioned Bolivia’s critique of capitalism. Similarly, Ecuador has set out on

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the fundamental transformation of its economic and institutional power relationships. The country referred to its National Plan of Good Living 2013–2017 as a guiding pillar of the transformation envisaged as contributing to the Paris Agreement (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013). In Andean communities in South America, the Quechua expression ‘sumak kawsay’, in Spanish ‘buen vivir’, often translated as ‘good living’, is forwarded as a noncolonial alternative to mainstream development models whether capitalist or socialist. It connotes a harmonious collective development between human beings and with the natural environment. It is now in some form included in the constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia and inspires civil society movements around the world (Kaijser, 2013). At the heart of Ecuador’s vision are developments since ‘the Citizens’ Revolution’ (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:17) of 2007, which the plan attributes to former president Rafael Correa. The proclaimed aspirations to transform the economy and political institutions, termed a ‘silent revolution’ (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:17), involve the decentralisation of power as part of democratisation. To continue Ecuador’s ‘historic transformation’, the plan sets out a long list of aims pointing to the macro-transformation of society: To consolidate democratic governance and construct the people’s power. To foster social and territorial equality, cohesion, inclusion and equity in diversity. To improve the quality of life of the population. To strengthen citizen capacities and potential. To build spaces for social interaction and strengthen national identity, diverse identities, pluri-nationality and interculturality. To consolidate transformation of the judicial system and reinforce comprehensive security, with strict respect for human rights. To guarantee the rights of Nature and promote environmental sustainability globally. To consolidate the social and solidary economic system, sustainably. To guarantee dignified work in all its forms. To promote transformation of the productive structure. To ensure the sovereignty and effeciency [sic] of the strategic sectors for industrial and technological transformation. To guarantee sovereignty and peace, enhancing strategic insertion worldwide and Latin American integration. (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:17)

The transformational language of the INDCs was inspired not only by ongoing planning processes and the 2030 Agenda, but also by the climate convention’s support mechanism, which has transformation as an explicit goal, namely, the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). This major official support mechanism for the Paris Agreement at the time, aim to incentivise developing countries to take climate action. Applicants are specifically asked to clarify how their actions shall contribute to societal transformation (Gardiner et al., 2015). Mathias Fridahl and Linda Johansson (2017) argued that the NAMA proposals

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showcase initiatives with high transformative potential. However, these proposals refer only to developing new technological niches and only in a few cases to broader socio-technical landscapes. Besides developing technological niches as a key to transformation, building networks, and streamlining climate policies and measures with development strategies, Nigeria goes one step further in envisioning transformation, as the country relies on its NAMA framework to ‘develop strategic, long-term, participatory, transformational measures and comprehensive programmes in driving towards a low carbon climate resilient and pro-growth and gender sensitive and sustainable development path’ (UNFCCC, 2015k:19). We will return to the role of niche developments contra large-scale transformative policies in Chapter 7. 4.3.5 Agents and Drivers of Change The types of actions required for directly initiating transformation are typically not defined when it comes to general societal transformation. However, there are a few exceptions. For example, Cabo Verde, which set out an ambitious transformation agenda, reflected on how the world economy constrains national transformation aspirations, seeking ways to capture windows of opportunity in an economically transforming world. A few countries envision comprehensive efforts throughout society. The Dominican Republic, for example, envisions ‘a transformation of society to a culture of sustainable production and consumption’, to be achieved by becoming ‘a prosperous country, where people live with dignity, attached to ethical values and in the context of a participatory democracy that guarantees the social and democratic rule of law and promotes equity, equal opportunities, and social justice, and that manages and uses its resources to develop in an innovative, sustainable and territorially balanced and integrated way, competitively inserted into the global economy’ (UNFCCC, 2015l:1). This transformation also entails equitable and efficient risk management, environmental protection, resource conservation, and climate change adaptation. Liberia aspires to transform itself into a middle-income nation by 2030. This is to be achieved through a comprehensive societal strategy involving five pillars: ‘Peace, Justice, Security and Rule of Law; Economic Transformation; Human Development; Governance and Public Institutions; Cross-Cutting Issues including environment and gender’ (UNFCCC, 2015m:2). The process of planning Liberia’s INDC was based largely on the country’s ongoing Agenda for Transformation (Liberia, 2013), in which key change agents are, according to the INDC, not only government agencies and ministries, but also civil society, local leaders, the private sector, women’s groups, youth and student representatives, and other NGOs.

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Egypt, in contrast, stressed four key technology developments as essential for its transformation: continued improvement of energy conversion efficiencies, carbon capture and storage, construction of power plants that can use both fossil fuels and biomass, and combined heat and power plants. In this effort, professionals with the capacity to develop or deploy new technologies are key actors, along with international bodies supporting technological transfer (UNFCCC, 2015n). Similarly, Bangladesh has identified thirteen ‘Fasttrack Transformational Projects’ in its VNR of the SDGs. They include building bridges, rail links, metro rail, a nuclear power plant, gas pipe lines, coal terminals and developing the petrochemical industry in coastal areas (Government of Bangladesh, 2017). Here, transformation refers to the economic transformation with the hope of spurring industrial development, rather than specifically to achieve the basket of SDGs. ‘Going green’ is not only used metaphorically to describe Burkina Faso’s lowcarbon ambitions to turn away from a resource-consumption economy, but literally describes the greening of this semi-arid country (UNFCCC, 2015o). The key to this transformation is integrated adaptation, which requires huge investments in energy technologies, irrigation and monitoring technologies, integrating water, agriculture, forest, and land-use policies, participative development, land restoration, and transparency. Most contributions to the Paris Agreement are vague about how to achieve the required transformation. The more sector-specific a mentioned transformation is, however, the more detailed it typically is. For instance, Nigeria’s agricultural transformation requires improved seeds, fertilisers, and innovations in irrigation systems as well as finance (UNFCCC, 2015k). Burundi aspires to transform subsistence farming into profitable market agriculture managed by professionals (UNFCCC, 2015p). Energy transformations are often quantified in terms of specific renewable energy targets. The Somali energy transformation will be achieved by providing 100,000 households with ‘sustainable and affordable solar energy’ (UNFCCC, 2015q:10). In the Cook Islands, transformation similarly refers to transitioning from having half their electricity generated using diesel in 2015 to being fully renewable five years later (UNFCCC, 2015r). Jordan will transform its energy sector by going from a mix of energy sources relying heavily on oil and natural gas, to including a ‘higher proportion’ (UNFCCC, 2015s:4) of energy from oil shale and renewables. Morocco’s ‘major transformation of the energy sector’ (UNFCCC, 2015t:3) involves having over 50 per cent of installed electricity production capacity based on renewable sources by 2025; reducing the country’s energy consumption by 15 per cent by 2030 through reducing fossil fuel subsidies; significantly

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increasing natural gas use; supporting infrastructure projects that will enable imports of liquefied renewables; and replacing old, inefficient coal-fired power plants with more modern high-efficiency coal-fired power stations. In general, the countries referring to energy transformation distinguish it from other forms of change in the energy sector by emphasising greater use of renewables, typically solar and wind. In Guyana, the mining sector is to be transformed by employing ‘mineral mapping in the mining districts to identify economically exploitable deposits’ (UNFCCC, 2015u:9), which, according to its INDC, will halt deforestation as the forest will not be cleared where there are only minor mineral deposits. Furthermore, programmes to increase awareness and incentives to turn away from mercury-based mining technology and to reforest already mined areas will be implemented. Reducing the negative impacts of mining is, of course, an important cause, but quite different from actions to systematically change the entire economy or the lifestyles of the population. Belize’s transformation to a low-carbon economy by 2033 is to be achieved through energy efficiency and conservation in transport, industry, and buildings and through climate policy market mechanisms (UNFCCC, 2015v). Strengthening Belize’s human, technological, and institutional capacity, in order to increase the uptake of government initiatives, is also emphasised as a driver of change. Pakistan seeks a development transformation based on affordable power generation and infrastructure expansion, an effort in which industry is to play a leading role (UNFCCC, 2015w). Changing the mindsets of societies is said to be the recipe for lasting transformation in several, quite diverse, countries. In its Vision 2020, the Gambia said: ‘major efforts to change attitudes are called for. Although this is a learning process, induction to new forms of socialization must commence in earnest in order to smoothen the transformation into a middle-income country’ (The Gambia, 1995:18). Similarly, Papua New Guinea (UNFCCC, 2015x:2) aims for transformation of ‘the nation’s mind-set and attitude’. Italy’s VNR elaborates its notion of a ‘culture of sustainability’ (UN, 2017a:95), which must permeate all levels of society from companies over civil society to public institutions, and involve lifelong learning both in formal and informal education. This is seen as the most important leverage for triggering the crosscutting goals of the SDGs. It can transform the current model for development while providing the required skills and competences and spur lifestyle changes. In the German VNR, the need for a new culture is just touched upon (UN, 2016c). The concrete suggestions still revolve around policies for transforming the German economy to be less carbon intensive, doubling its international climate finance, mobilising private investments, supporting climate research, but also to attain civil

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and political rights, which is highlighted as essential for communities to achieve transformative social, economic, and environmental change. Transformation towards climate adaptation or resilience is not just a matter of economic restructuring or a change in energy systems. Rather, investments and fundamentally community-driven capacity building are the main drivers specified in the contributions to the Paris Agreement. For instance, the transformational change in vulnerable communities envisioned by Dominica to help the country adapt to climate change, gives households and individuals a leading role in fostering resilient communities rather than relying on scarce government finance (UNFCCC, 2015y). The INDCs are decided and submitted by states, so by default the state has an important role for the actions submitted. Still, different types of statehood are reflected, with more or less distinct or central roles for transformative actions. Ecuador’s aspirations to transform power relationships within its economy and institutions make the state a key actor. Achieving these will require renewed public planning, control of finance and banking, higher minimum wages, distributive policies, and expanding geopolitical relationships to like-minded countries to become less vulnerable to global trade. Critical of the capitalist, American-dominated world order, recalling world system and dependency theories, Ecuador seeks ‘to transform the international context, especially of any situation that supposes the domination and exploitation of some societies over others’ (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:86–87). Means of realising this transformation include strengthening South– South cooperation and ‘counter-hegemonic’ (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:33) measures, such as quitting the Agreement on Settlement of Investment Disputes and bilateral investment treaties. Four countries – Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Uganda – have emphasised transformed gender roles and relations as essential to achieving low-carbon and climate-resilient development, making it a cross-cutting issue in their national development models. For example, the Dominican Republic’s INDC explains that the ‘role of women as agents of change is recognised, and their participation is encouraged in the transformation of society towards a low-carbon and resilient development’ (UNFCCC, 2015l:3–4). Uganda (2010:97) concluded that it ‘will be paramount in the next 30 years to reduce gender inequalities as a prerequisite for accelerating and sustaining socio-economic transformation’. The key actors naturally also differ between countries depending on what actions are seen as essential. Overall, few actors are specifically mentioned in relation to specific transformations. In particular, actors are less specified with regard to transformations framed as low-carbon development and energy system transformations, other than the industry or business sector in general. Countries

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targeting macro-transformations go into more detail in their INDCs about what actors are involved. In particular, countries that see more inclusiveness as an important means to spur transformation towards sustainability often list a broad set of actors, not only the typical non-state actors of businesses and influential NGOs, but also civil society at large including ordinary people in their capacity as citizens. Global governance is carried out not only by international and national institutions. In the formal contributions to the Paris Agreement, 114 parties explicitly state their resolution to involve non-state actors (Jernnäs & Linnér, 2019). Several countries emphasise in their VNR to the SDGs that transformation requires a high-level coordination within governments as well as involvement of non-state actors (e.g., UN, 2016c, 2017b). Denmark emphasises that the transformation of the SDGs cannot be met without public–private partnerships and exemplifies the Danish experience on research and development that can spur small- and medium-sized enterprises (UN, 2017c). Slovenia, on the other hand, emphasises the formative voice of civil society, in particular young people’s engagement for spurring social transformation (UN, 2017d). Finland calls for structural changes in organisational culture which involves citizens and stakeholders to create a profound ownership of the sustainable development agenda (UN, 2016d). For many years, researchers and policymakers have turned their attention to the increasing importance of the less-hierarchical networks linking traditional institutions and transnational actors (Bäckstrand et al., 2017). Non-state actors involved in global climate and sustainability governance include business and industry, environmental and development NGOs, indigenous people, cities, trade unions, and women’s groups. They all are perceived to fulfil different governance functions, such as implementing action, providing ideas or expertise, raising awareness, proposing solutions, influencing decisions and policymakers, evaluating consequences of policies and measures, monitoring progress, and representing public opinion and marginalised voices (Nasiritousi et al., 2016). These actors interact at multiple levels – international, regional, national, subnational, and local. In the lead-up to Paris, interactions heightened between state-led actions through the NDCs and the climate convention’s orchestration of non-state initiatives, to the extent that scholars have labelled it a hybrid architecture, marking a new phase of climate governance (Kuyper et al., 2018). In Chapter 7, we will return to how this is mirrored in the literature on governance of transformations. In sum, several countries frame transformation in existing economic and social policy strategies. There are great differences in the goal of the transformation and what is to be transformed, which ranges from all of society, gender relationships,

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and mindsets to particular energy or agricultural systems, from the capitalist world order to the introduction of carbon capture and storage technologies. 4.4 Implications for Sustainability Transformations The concept of transformation has a long history, but, during the second decade of the twenty-first century, it increasingly permeated the UN sustainable development discourse and concurrently attracted greater attention in academia and the media. In policy documents, media texts, and the research literature alike, we have identified multiple framings of the transformation concept that can be grouped according to two overarching meanings identified in the literature on historic transformations: macro-transformations involving entire civilisations, and particular transformations, referring to profound changes of particular segments of socio-economic or socio-technical systems. In an era of globalisation, macro-transformations span the globe. This is particularly evident in the report of the UN secretary general’s high-level panel on preparing the SDGs (UN, 2013a). Yet, of the countries envisioning macrotransformations in their Paris Agreement contributions or background documents, only a few considered these transformations on a global scale; others focused on particular sectors or just waved the transformation flag. Considering the general lack of conceptual discussions of what transformation entails, in particular on a civilisational scale, this is perhaps not so surprising. Still, countries only would have had to turn to the UN reports underpinning the 2030 Agenda decision to get some food for thought. So, more importantly, any official national contributions involving transformative actions seeking a fundamental change of societal structures requires a domestic political discussion, which requires a profoundly more demanding process of preparing and deciding on contributions to the Paris Agreement. Scanning the scholarly literature on societal transformations reveals a research field that has gone from fragmentation via consolidation to bisection, in which most literature has bifurcated into two streams: one of applied research, focusing on technology, management, and education, and another of critical studies of the conceptual and socio-cultural fundamentals of transformation. To borrow Giuseppe Feola’s (2015) distinction, transformation research with descriptive– analytical versus solution-oriented approaches evolved into two separate categories. In the media texts, this is reflected in the distinction between visionary and pragmatic approaches. With the exception of New Zealand, only middle- and low-income countries refer to transformation in their INDCs to the Paris Agreement. In fact, even New Zealand dropped the reference to transformation in its formal submission to the

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ratified Paris Agreement, which is no longer ‘intended’ but a proper contribution (UNFCCC, 2015z). This is in stark contrast to the abundant peer-reviewed academic literature on societal transformations, predominantly authored in the Global North. The absence of the references to transformation among high-income countries in the INDCs is also striking as many of them provided rather advanced discussion on the necessity of transformations in their VNRs (e.g., Germany, Italy, South Korea and Switzerland). In the international media debate, a dividing line is found between articles concentrating on climate change and articles treating sustainability transformations more broadly. The climate change-related articles, with a thematic emphasis on energy, mitigating GHG emissions, and international climate policy and governance, are often found in media in the Global North. Media articles on sustainability transformation are often encountered in media outlets in the Global South and concentrate on the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. Replete with bottom-up stories about local or individual actions and initiatives, these texts suggest a wide variety of goals of sustainability transformations, often interlinking multiple goals. This media material also emphasises the interplay between drivers and presents a wide array of actors as responsible for and capable of driving societal change. In the NDCs and VNRs, variation in interventions reflect the different end goals of transformations: from more trade under capitalism to a new economic world order , from stimulating technological innovation to lifestyle changes, from economic incentives to gender equality and consciousness-raising education. What we identify as leverage mechanisms determines the extent to which transformations can be governed. The diversity in goals and interventions thus creates a monumental challenge for international diplomacy concerning the governance of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. We conclude that there is a gap in the research literature on sustainability transformations. As this literature originates mainly from the Global North and largely, although not exclusively, focuses on high-income and major emerging economies, the academic community might overlook what could be learned from contexts outside Europe and North America, such as ways of forging inclusive processes, building community, and shifting mindsets. Also, as is evident in the NDCs, many countries in the Global South find it important to align their climate actions with the SDGs and their transformational imperative. Many of these countries are building on ongoing policies of economic and social transformation that are not emanating from the sustainable development discourse, but rather from development economics or human development theory. Even though only a minority of low- and middle-income countries’ contributions to the Paris Agreement are aligned with the creed of A New Global

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Partnership, the report on the post-2015 development agenda, to transform more than just the economy and technology, several of these countries nevertheless outline visions of how institutions, governance practices, power relationships, gender structures, and mindsets all play roles in transformations. As we will see from the five cases presented in the next chapter, approaches to transformation in different locations around the world, despite their commonalities, can differ profoundly.

5 Localising Transformations

How do people make sense of the changes occurring around them? The societal transformations required for sustainability are presented in different ways in different fora and sites around the world. So far, we have looked at how historians, anthropologists, sociologists, economists, and other analysts have narrated historical shifts in Chapter 3 and at how transformations have been envisioned in public spheres in Chapter 4. To understand how transformation is made sense of in different societies around the world, we now focus on five specific cases. This chapter takes a closer look at local, regional, and/or national perspectives on transformational change through examining sense-making in five case study settings: Santiago and other islands in Cabo Verde; Guangzhou in the Pearl River Delta, China; the city of Nadi as well as a small village in Fiji; Östergötland County in Sweden; and the city of Boulder in Colorado, USA. In each case study, after first giving brief background and contextual information, we then discuss how societal transformations towards sustainability are framed in official policy documents. Policy documents can always be criticised for not really mirroring actual political ambitions. How well the policy documents mirror the ambitions of a country’s politicians is not for us to say. We conclude that they do reflect the way officials want to portray their countries’ ambitions and, as such, provide excellent material for studying sense-making. It is equally important to explore in depth how ordinary citizens relate to key concepts addressed in the policy documents. Each case study therefore ends with brief insights into how lay participants in focus groups discussed societal transformations (the focus group results are discussed in greater depth in Wibeck et al., 2019). In each case, we will return to the six categories of transformation introduced in the previous chapters: scope, scale, goals, periodisation, actors, and drivers. 94

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5.1 Cabo Verde: The Bridge Builder Located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of West Africa, the Cabo Verde archipelago consists of ten volcanic islands and eight islets with a total population of just above half a million. Since its independence from Portugal in 1975, Cabo Verde has made a predominantly peaceful transition into a stable representative democracy – an important part of the country’s self-image. With the elections of 1991, a multi-party system became the backbone of the political system. However, since Cabo Verde politics is in effect dominated by two large parties, the African Party for the Independence of Cabo Verde (PAICV) and the Movement for Democracy (MPD), taking turns at being in power, it has been argued that the country in practice has more of a two-party than a multi-party system (Furtado, 2014). Graduating from the UN’s list of least developed countries in 2008, Cabo Verde is now aspiring to become an upper middle-income country. Cabo Verde has been referred to as a success story of African development (African Development Bank, 2011), having a high-growth economy with among the strongest social indicators on the continent. It also scores relatively high on good governance, political stability, civil liberty, and democracy indexes (African Development Bank, 2012). For example, media freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, and the country ranks 29th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index (Reporters without Borders, 2018). Cabo Verde has few natural resources and imports over 80 per cent of its food (de Carvalho, 2013), as no more than 10 per cent of the country’s land area is arable (World Bank, 2019a). The economy is predominantly service oriented, with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of roughly USD 3,200 (World Bank, 2019b). Primarily due to a quickly growing tourism industry, the GDP has grown rapidly since independence in 1975. However, the government is now seeking to diversify the country’s sources of income by turning Cabo Verde into a trade and transport hub (World Bank, 2019a). Nonetheless, Cabo Verde still struggles with high unemployment and poverty affecting around one-third of the population (World Bank, 2019a). Cabo Verde has a large public debt, which in 2018 amounted to nearly 130 per cent of the country’s GDP (World Bank, 2019a). Moreover, the country suffers from cyclical droughts, permanent water shortages, desertification, and food insecurity (de Carvalho, 2013). Over the years, many Cabo Verdeans have emigrated, and more Cabo Verdeans live abroad than in the country (Central Intelligence Agency, 2017). With a human development index (HDI) value of 0.654, Cabo Verde ranks in the lower half (125th) of the world’s countries in terms of HDI (UNDP, 2018).

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Cabo Verde is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly extreme weather events, sea level rise threatening infrastructure and agriculture in coastal areas, and the degradation of fish stocks (de Carvalho, 2013; UNFCCC, 2015aa). The country was therefore early in adopting the societal transformation concept, formulating an Agenda for Transformation already in 2002–2003 (African Development Bank, 2012). Cabo Verde ratified the Paris Climate Agreement in September 2017. Its NDC explicitly highlights the need for societal transformations that favour low-carbon and climate-resilient development (UNFCCC, 2015aa). Cabo Verde formulated its ambitious transformation agenda with the ultimate aim of becoming an upper middle-income country, and in the process enhancing low-carbon energy access, reducing poverty, and securing water and sanitation access, etc. However, official reports reflect on the constraints that the world economy imposes on national transformation aspirations. The trick for Cabo Verde, so the argument goes, is to seek ways to capture windows of opportunity in a world in the process of economic transformation (African Development Bank, 2012). Moreover, the same report, which underpinned the country’s contribution to the Paris Agreement, argues that a requirement for the transformation agenda to go from merely being a piece of paper to actual implementation is that citizens become directly engaged (African Development Bank, 2012). This can be challenging because, according to Cabo Verdian sociologist Cláudio Alves Furtado (2014:435), ‘political participation platforms outside the partisan context are relatively few; we thus have a democracy of political parties, rather than a democracy of citizens’. In its NDC, Cabo Verde presents itself as ‘an emerging nation with a strong and transformative development agenda’ (UNFCCC, 2015aa:8). Transformation is an important concept in Cabo Verde’s planning for the future. In its NDC, it commits to: a global low-carbon transformation, which decouples economic growth from emissions, provides for the sustainable use of natural resources, limits average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, with the ultimate goal of achieving 1.5 degree Celsius in the long-term, and assists nations with adapting to the consequences from sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and other effects of a changing climate. (UNFCCC, 2015aa:9)

These transformation aspirations are not only for the distant future. Cabo Verde’s transformation agenda for 2030 is intended to guide the government’s short-term planning process on climate change. Domestically, the transformation agenda, among other things, states that Cabo Verde should aim for energy independence through 100 per cent renewable energy sources. This goal should be seen against

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the background of Cabo Verde’s current energy situation in which, while the country is still largely dependent on imported fossil fuels, it has started to increase the proportion of solar and wind energy in its energy mix, from just above 1 per cent in 2010 to approximately 25 per cent in 2015. In addition, Cabo Verde intends to prioritise climate resilience, water-use efficiency, and sustainability with regard to the economy and tourist infrastructure. Not only does Cabo Verde aspire to be a regional leader in Africa’s energy transformation (UNFCCC, 2015aa), but it also seeks a role as a bridge builder between Europe and Africa. This mediating role goes both ways: while good examples of energy innovation may be disseminated from the EU to African countries, Cabo Verde can, for example, highlight Ghana’s efforts to reduce gender inequality and domestic violence as an example for European countries.1 To make sense of alternative futures for Cabo Verde and its transformation agenda, the report Cape Verde – The Road Ahead produced by the African Development Bank (2012) elaborates on four metaphors, each representing a different scenario for the year 2025: the ostrich, the tortoise, the Atlantic fox, and the Atlantic tiger. The report employs these metaphors deliberately and reflexively, explicitly pondering on the role of scenarios and imagery in sensemaking about the future: Scenarios are stories about the future, capturing images of potential futures depending on the assumptions of the interplay present in the key variables. The scenarios methodology presents an approach to help make sense of the world in a more complex and unpredictable global environment. The images of the future allow decision makers to better understand the wide range of possibilities and how the future might unfold. (African Development Bank, 2012:60)

The four scenarios illustrate how Cabo Verde, rather than simply leading and shaping transformation, needs to relate to ongoing global change, particularly with respect to developments in the world economy such as global economic recessions or expansions. The ostrich – hiding its head in the sand – represents a situation in which the global economy is in recession and Cabo Verde becomes overwhelmed by the international crisis, its leadership unable to respond or continue to advocate transformation within the country. In the tortoise scenario, the external conditions are different, as the international economy is booming, but Cabo Verde’s political leadership still deflects agency and the country is ‘coasting along like a Tortoise’ (African Development Bank, 2012:69), barely surviving despite the favourable economic climate. The Atlantic Fox scenario unfolds in an economic environment as weak as that of the ostrich 1

Authors’ interviews with Cabo Verdean municipal officials 170214, 170222, minister of education 170214, and UN representative 170215.

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scenario, but in it Cabo Verde behaves like a fox, seeking and seizing opportunities everywhere, well prepared to cope with uncertain conditions. The Atlantic tiger scenario, finally, presupposes a strong international economy and represents a future in which Cabo Verde realises its transformation agenda, moving from being a lower- to an upper middle-income country, as the country ‘is ruling the mid Atlantic; has broken into the global marketplace with knowledge-driven services and [is] winning’ (African Development Bank, 2012:69). Although the report positions Cabo Verde as dependent on international developments, it still has room to manoeuvre. The report makes strong claims for agency at the domestic level, such as: ‘Cape Verde is a tiny country without a margin for safety or error. It has neither control nor any influence over the global environment and health of the world economy. But it fully controls its own course of actions and decisions regarding its internal capacities’ (African Development Bank, 2012:70), or: ‘The goal for Cape Verde, given that it has no control or influence on how the external environment or world economy turns out, is simply to be prepared and ready to compete in order to achieve its national objectives no matter the challenges and opportunities presented by the world economy’ (African Development Bank, 2012:103). To realise transformative change, the report uses the fox and tiger metaphors to urge Cabo Verdian leaders to increase the country’s resilience by seeking ways to be prepared for adapting to harsh external conditions, or by taking advantage of favourable conditions, positioning the country as a node for partnerships with public and private actors in West Africa, Micronesia, and Europe. The report illustrates one transformation strategy. It does not address the drivers of macro-transformation but states that, through influencing more particular transformations, the country can be prepared, no matter how the world system develops. The most critical drivers of Cabo Verde’s ability to navigate macro-transformations are ‘institutional reforms, quality of education and its relevance for the national transformation agenda’ (African Development Bank, 2012:11). These factors are emphasised even more than the almost obligatory policy references to efficiency, innovation, and competitiveness. In addition, improved infrastructure and, not least, ‘ensuring social cohesion’ are vital drivers when outlining a new strategy for transformation. 5.1.1 Cabo Verde Focus Groups The consequences of globalisation and the implications of Cabo Verde’s position between Africa and Europe, as well as the country’s harsh environmental conditions together formed an important backdrop for lay discussions in focus groups. When brainstorming about the type of society they would prefer for the future, the

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focus group participants paid considerable attention to environmental sustainability. They argued that a more sustainable environment would tangibly affect many other dimensions of life for the better. For example, participants often mentioned that better environmental conditions would increase public health, access to food and water, and household income while, on an overall level, facilitating conditions for better quality of life. The need for environmental sustainability was set against the multiple challenges facing Cabo Verde, such as poverty, water shortage, lack of waste management and recycling systems, health and sanitation problems, natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, and a scarcity of natural resources that has led to dependency on imported goods. Of particular gravity was the problem of natural disasters, with participants stressing that vulnerable communities located near the active Fogo volcano lack access to information on threat levels. Two examples of unsustainable practices were frequently mentioned in the focus group discussions as symptoms of the country’s problems: lack of recycling of imported plastic items, which are often thrown out as garbage in the streets, on the beaches, and in the ocean, harming the marine environment; and excavating sand from beaches for use as construction material, contributing to beach erosion. Despite the severe problems affecting much of Cabo Verde’s population, most participants displayed a positive outlook on the possibility of transformational change. This optimism was partly based on the historical experience of rapid change from extreme poverty after independence from Portugal in 1975. According to one participant: The country we have now and the one in the past, 30 or 40 years ago, the change is like from water to wine. Before it was a desert, there was nothing. I went to Guinea as a child with my family and came back at 20 years of age, and I was shocked at the dryness. The name is Cabo Verde, which means ‘green’ in Portuguese, and everything was done . . . to change, and it was achieved, so the changes so far have been from good governance . . . A lot has been done, like in energy, there is a lot done about renewable energy and . . . things are better, fewer blackouts from the work that has been done. So we are doing something to achieve our vision.

When discussing what drives change, the participants in all groups repeatedly cited key concepts such as information, awareness raising, consciousness, and education as means to initiate transformative action. According to the participants, first, there is a need to raise public awareness of societal and environmental problems and what causes them. Second, once people are aware of the problems, there is need for formal and non-formal education, professional training, and capacity building to address the problems. Third, there need to be alternative options to replace unsustainable actions.

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Across the groups, participants shared many stories of local community projects often intended to solve multiple interlinked problems simultaneously. For example, participants highlighted gardening projects in schools with the purpose of enriching school meals while teaching students to take responsibility for the environment and training them in gardening practices. Another example concerned alternative income sources for women involved in extracting sand from the beaches. These would have the benefits of decreasing health problems caused by harsh working conditions, increasing climate resilience by reducing erosion that allows seawater to inundate houses, preserving beaches for local and tourist recreation, and increasing and stabilising household incomes. The position of Cabo Verde in Africa and in the world was another recurrent topic when discussing the role of the country in sustainability transformations. Cabo Verde could be seen as the ‘gateway to Africa’, a platform for enabling transformation beyond the country’s borders. For example, one participant, recalling the history of slave trade, distinguished between the past and present roles of Cabo Verde by arguing that: In the past, Africa was a place to get slaves and Cabo Verde was an important platform for selling them to the rest of the world. Today we can invert that and instead of selling slaves from Africa, sell resources to Africa, and Cabo Verde can be a platform again, to get what the rest of the world needs, to transform, add value, and export, with Cabo Verde being the gateway to Africa.

However, participants also identified problems related to the country’s double quandary: Should the country act as part of the African continent or not? How should the sometimes neglected smaller Cabo Verdean islands attract attention when most political and commercial attention rests on the capital Praia? 5.1.2 Varieties of Transformation in Cabo Verde In terms of scope, Cabo Verde is seeking particular transformation strategies that can tap into an ongoing global economic macro-transformation. The country’s economy is heavily affected by global economic upturns and downturns, changes that a micro-economy can do little to influence. Rather than addressing the global system, as envisioned by Bolivia (see Chapter 4), the scale the country must relate to is that of its own particular transformations. However, as the ultimate goal is to become an upper middle-income country in global terms, the strategy ultimately must relate to a global macrotransformation. Interestingly, there is no reference in the studied policy documents to this macro-transformation being governable; rather, its driving forces are seemingly out of control for Cabo Verdeans.

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Domestically, the ultimate goal is not to create a low-carbon society. Rather, a low-carbon transformation process was envisioned in the early 2000s as a means to become an upper middle-income country. For an international audience, however, the goal of the transformation is expressed as a condensed version of the UN’s transformative 2030 Agenda. Cabo Verde’s NDC thus reflects the process of an international framework being appropriated domestically and made to fit and influence a national policy process. According to the African Development Bank (2011), the ‘transformational era’ started in 2001, overlapping Cabo Verde’s transformation agenda for 2030, which is intended to guide the government’s shortterm planning on climate change up to 2030 – a relatively short transformation period. The optimism about achieving transformational change draws on the experience of rapid progress from being a low-income country at the time of independence in 1975. A wide range of drivers is highlighted. A recurring theme evident in focus groups, policy documents, and interviews is that education in a broad sense, ranging from public information to an improved school system, can supply the necessary leverage to accomplish transformation. This in turn requires change in the political system towards inclusive citizen dialogues, as there are currently few participatory platforms (Furtado, 2014). This is particularly vital as citizens are highlighted as principal actors whose engagement guarantees that the strategy will move from words into practice. 5.2 Guangzhou, Pearl River Delta, China: A Chinese Model The Chinese case study was undertaken in the Guangzhou/Pearl River Delta region, the world’s largest mega-city region. The region has already experienced rapid social, environmental, and economic change, particularly due to urbanisation (World Bank, 2015). China, with a population of 1.3 billion, has the world’s second largest economy (World Bank, 2019c). The country has rapidly grown from being a low- to a middle-income country, with a GDP per capita of slightly below USD 9,000 (World Bank, 2019b). The desire to keep developing, but at a lower environmental and social cost, is reflected in the thirteenth five-year plan (2016–2020), which speaks of the ‘transformation of the growth model’ and stipulates transformations in a long list of areas: the Chinese economy, government functions, manufacturing, service provision, energy production and consumption, industry in general and the oil refining and mining industries in particular, infrastructure, specifically rural broadband and roads, housing, water and sanitation, lighting and fire-fighting facilities, and foreign trade; it also calls for ‘the transformation and development of resource-dependent cities’ and promotes ‘the transformation of public

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institutions engaged in production and business operations into enterprises’ (People’s Republic of China, 2016). Through the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative – or the ‘New Silk Road’ – China is striving to enhance connectivity and co-operation between Eurasian countries through a land-based economic belt and maritime road, against a background of ‘complex and profound changes’ in the global economy and development (People’s Republic of China, 2015). The initiative aims to promote the transformation not only of western China, but ultimately of large parts of Eurasia. However, it does not stop there. Within a time frame of approximately thirty-five years, Chinese interests will have increased in the Middle East and North Africa as well. At the core of the New Silk Road initiative are modernised and expanded transcontinental railway routes, highways, and port facilities as well as pipelines for natural gas and oil (Ferdinand, 2016; People’s Republic of China, 2015). Over sixty countries with a combined population of 4 billion people could potentially be involved in the initiative. Taken together, the markets of these countries represent around one-third of global GDP (Ferdinand, 2016). In describing China’s ambitions, president Xi Jinping used metaphorical language, stating that ‘the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road are the two wings of China [the great eagle]. Once they are constructed, China the eagle can fly higher and farther’ (quoted in Ye, 2015:219–220 and Kaczmarski, 2017:1363). In the words of Peter Ferdinand (2016:955–956), ‘The hopes for the impact of the “one belt, one road” initiative are grandiose, and if it is realized in full, it will indeed fundamentally transform the geography of global affairs, though the timescale over which this is envisaged as taking place is a long one.’ Two impetuses behind the strategy are to strengthen China’s geopolitical position in world affairs and to become a supplier of public goods, not least in renewable energy, although it is far from the main focus (Kaczmarski, 2017). Domestically, China has recently undergone rapid development towards ultimately becoming a low-carbon economy, in terms of both investments in green technology and policy initiatives for energy reduction and pollution control (Stalley, 2015). Sixty per cent of the world’s photovoltaic cells were manufactured in China in 2014 (Liu et al., 2015), and in 2015 the country was the biggest investor in renewable energy (Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, 2016). Motivation for this development is found in Chinese leaders’ aspirations to increase energy security, rebalance the Chinese economy, and address urgent air pollution problems (Stalley, 2015). Following the initiation of market reforms in 1978, China turned towards a market-based economy characterised by rapid economic and social changes. However, while China’s GDP has grown almost 10 per cent per year and the country reached all the MDGs by 2015, the country still suffers from poverty,

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especially in rural areas. More than 70 million Chinese in rural areas were classified as poor in 2014 by the World Bank. Moreover, China struggles with demographic challenges caused by the internal migration of labour and an ageing population. Rapid economic development has also brought with it other challenges related to, for example, urbanisation, environmental pressure, and social inequality (World Bank, 2019c). Restrictions of human rights and democracy prevail, and China ranks among the lowest in the World Press Freedom Index list, ranking 176th of 180 countries (Reporters without Borders, 2018). China’s HDI is 0.752, making it number 86 in the world (UNDP, 2018). When it comes to public views and values, the World Values Survey (www .worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSContents.jsp) positions China in a cluster of countries characterised by Confucian values. Here, China scores relatively high on secular–rational values, while leaning more towards survival values, emphasising physical and economic security, than self-expression values. The national political leadership encourages the dissemination of the ‘China dream’, which, according to Ferdinand (2016:941), is intended to encourage China’s citizens to ‘restore optimism and enthusiasm about its future, particularly among young people’, framing China as a rich and powerful socialist country permeated by the so-called core values of socialism. On a national level, these are prosperity, democracy, civility, and harmony; on a societal level, they include freedom, equality, justice, and rule of law. Patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship are encouraged as core values for the individual. These values are upheld and disseminated through the media and the educational system. The ‘China dream’ promoted by the country’s political leadership is first and foremost a dream for the nation, not for individuals, and it is often set in sharp contrast to how Chinese leaders perceive other nations’ or regions’ visions and self-images, in particular ‘the American dream’ (Ferdinand, 2016). China is a key player in climate politics due to its rapidly growing economy, large population, and large GHG emissions. For many years, China’s GHG emissions have been on a rapid and steady rise. Between 1990 and 2011, the increase was 300 per cent (Stalley, 2015). The country, which has among the world’s largest coal reserves, is still heavily dependent on coal (Stalley, 2015). At the same time, compared with many other countries, China is more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (Wang et al., 2016). China’s NDC demonstrates that the country is now seeking a ‘new normal’ based on transforming the industrial sector and adopting a low-carbon development pathway (Wang et al., 2016). The Chinese government’s ‘new normal’ strategy aims to slow the high rate of China’s economic growth, in which the focus has been on low-value-added manufacturing, and instead prioritise medium-speed, innovation-based growth fuelled by domestic consumer demand (Arcadis, 2015). To

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achieve this ‘new normal’, large-scale transformational change is envisioned. For example, the report Pursuing an Innovative Development Pathway: Understanding China’s NDC (Wang et al., 2016), highlights particular transformations, such as the ‘transformation of the industrial sector’ (p. 1), ‘technical transformation’ (p. 14), ‘economic transformation’ (p. 31), ‘energy transformation’ (p. 34), and ‘the economic and social transformation of urban environments to a low-carbon model’ (p. 34). Urbanisation is a key national priority for China, and as such is a large-scale project envisaged as a cornerstone of the country’s economic transformation (World Bank, 2015). The Pearl River Delta region has now overtaken Tokyo as the world’s largest metropolitan area in terms of both population and area. Including the cities of Shenzhen, Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Guangzhou, Foshan, and Zhaoqing as well as the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, the Pearl River Delta metropolis region in 2015 accounted for almost a tenth of China’s GDP, nearly a fifth of foreign direct investments, and 25 per cent of China’s trade (Arcadis, 2015). While China is striving to assume international leadership in climate policy and the low-carbon energy transformation, the Pearl River Delta Region is envisaged as a leader within China in promoting greater innovation and more sustainable growth, serving as a role model for polycentric city development (Arcadis, 2015; Asia Business Council, 2011). Guangzhou, mainland China’s third largest city, is striving to brand itself as a sustainable city, for example, by balancing economic growth with efforts to protect the environment, integrating urban and rural areas, preserving green spaces in the city, improving infrastructure for public transport, reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and controlling river pollution (Asia Business Council, 2011; Xue et al., 2014). 5.2.1 Guangzhou Focus Groups When discussing future societies, the Guangzhou focus groups chose to concentrate on either a ten- or twenty-year perspective. These relatively short temporal perspectives were motivated by the rapid pace of recent change, not least in the technological developments that participants had experienced during their own lifetimes. In view of the rapid experienced changes, for example, in communications technology, they found it difficult to imagine what types of changes could occur further into the future. The discussions tended to revolve around challenges and opportunities facing current rather than future generations. When asked to reflect upon a longer time horizon, one group distinguished between short-term transformations, which arise from the societal system, and long-term ones, spurred by people’s attitudes to life.

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Across the focus groups, participants highlighted the need to address problems of social and environmental unsustainability. They expressed their wish for a future Guangzhou characterised by more real-life interaction between people, clean air and water, better traffic conditions, more affordable housing, and better sewageand waste-management systems. Much of the discussion about preferred futures concerned either cleaner environmental conditions, which would bring about better health, or better social security in terms of pensions and elderly care, less criminality and corruption, less stress, and peace. Some participants also highlighted their wish for a society characterised by more and deeper social contacts between people – or, as was expressed in one focus group, ‘we should communicate from our hearts rather than just in words’ and ‘in the future, people will live with warm hearts’. Drawing on distinctions between urban and rural China and between rich and poor citizens, some participants also emphasised the need to address inequalities and narrow the gaps in living standards. Across the focus groups, participants described how the rapid urbanisation and reconstruction of Guangzhou had brought about changes in the social structures and sense of belonging among the city’s inhabitants. According to some participants, Guangzhou is often perceived as a tolerant city with beautiful natural features where it is easy to make money. Despite this, many focus group participants expressed a sense of loneliness and noted a loss of social cohesion, demonstrated by fewer contacts with and diminished trust in their neighbours. Participants talked about being worried about retirement and pensions, lack of affordable housing, and increasing criminality. Moreover, as the city is expanding, the lack of waste-management systems and pressure on the transport infrastructure, with resulting traffic congestion, have surfaced as urgent problems. Wasteful lifestyles and waste of natural resources were cited as among the root causes of unsustainability. Still, as one of the most developed cities in China, participants argued that Guangzhou should play an important role in sustainability transformations, acting as a role model for other cities. Another argument for taking action on the local level in Guangzhou city was that it is important for change to start on one’s own doorstep, otherwise it may take a long time before transformation initiated at the national level reaches Guangzhou. However, participants claimed that, for transformation to happen at the local level, people’s moral values need to be strengthened. This claim was recurrent across the focus groups, and was often illustrated by everyday behaviours that participants did not approve of, such as littering the streets, neglecting to return shared bicycles in the city’s bike-share system, and not switching off air conditioners and electric lights when leaving home. This lack of moral values was also sometimes attributed to enterprises exceeding emission standards, thereby contributing to increased air pollution and climate change.

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Among the participants in each group, views differed as to whether individuals could actually bring about change through their lifestyle choices. While some participants highlighted the need for sustainable everyday habits, others argued that government regulations would be needed, for example, to tackle climate change, since individual actions such as refraining from frying foods to reduce fumes would have little effect. Overall, the participants expressed a relatively limited sense of individual agency and emphasised the need for collective, government-led action to increase sustainability. While emphasising the importance of government regulation and control, participants sometimes said that management and supervision need to be more efficient as well, for example, when it comes to reducing pollution from factories. At times, participants problematised and reflected on the potential goal conflicts embedded in efforts to achieve environmental, economic, and social sustainability at the same time. For example, some claimed that, while the environment would benefit from the closure of large enterprises such as steel plants, or from better bike-share or public transportation systems, this might lead to decreased economic activity and increased unemployment. Across all the focus groups, participants displayed great confidence in the ability of science and technological innovation to tackle current and future environmental sustainability problems, particularly those related to climate change and energy production. 5.2.2 Varieties of Transformation in Guangzhou, China The Chinese five-year plan, naturally, has a national focus, whereas the One Belt, One Road strategy primarily has a regional-scale focus, targeting western China, but ultimately large parts of Eurasia as well, involving countries that represent around one-third of global GDP. Although this might imply a macrotransformation, it is still primarily specific sectors that are targeted. The documents covered in our analysis indicate a specific rather than a major transformation in this case. This is also indicated by the engine of change of this transformation, which is improvement in infrastructure. China has also committed to a global green lowcarbon transformation, which is not specified in further detail. The NDC expresses slightly different versions of particular industrial, technical, economic, energy, and energy-conservation transformations. In particular, urban areas are highlighted, especially through the transformation of ‘industrial bases and resource-based cities’ (UNFCCC, 2015ab:6). Guangzhou can be something of a role model for such a transformation, as it is an old industrial city with petroleum, textile, chemical, steel, and iron industries and where some of the heavy industry has been asked to relocate outside the city. Although some secondary industries,

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such as cars, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemicals, are still important for the city, tertiary industry – that is, the service sector – is the largest and most steadily growing sector (HKTDC, 2017). In both the official documents and the focus groups, the envisioned transformations build on amalgamation with ongoing initiatives. The participants in the focus groups related to a short time period for societal changes, based on the rapid urban development of the Pearl River Delta. However, we also saw that a long-term perspective could be employed when focusing on changing values. While low-carbon development is a committed feature, the ultimate goals are a ‘moderately prosperous society’ by 2020, but ‘a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally developed and harmonious modern socialist country by the middle of this century’ (UNFCCC, 2015ab:4). Two engines of change were particularly evident in the focus groups. First, as in the official documents, government regulations were seen as a driver of transformation. Second, a strengthening of moral values, particularly concerning environmental behaviour, was said to be necessary by many participants. This is also reflected in the NDC, which emphasises enhanced ‘education for all citizens on [a] low-carbon way of life and consumption’, including a ‘healthy and civilized way of life’ (UNFCCC, 2015ab:11). The focus group participants generally argued that individual lifestyle changes needed to be backed up by government regulations. While many focus group participants believed that individuals had an important role, the government was the principal actor not only in the official documents, but also according to the focus groups in general. 5.3 Fiji: Leadership of the Vulnerable Located in Melanesia, in the southern Pacific Ocean, Fiji has a population of around 900,000 inhabitants. The country consists of 332 islands, of which about 100 are inhabited (Bola, 2016). A vast majority of the population lives on the Viti Levu and Vanua Levu islands. Since 2013, Fiji has been considered an upper middle-income country, with a GDP per capita of slightly above USD 5,500 (World Bank, 2019b). The country has abundant forest, mineral, and marine resources, and sources of foreign exchange include sugar exports and the tourist industry. Despite these resources, economic exclusion prevails, with a 45 per cent incidence of poverty as well as high unemployment, particularly among the young (SDG Fund, 2016). Following state coups in the 1990s and 2000s, Fiji has seen a large outflow of emigrants, particularly skilled professionals, which has negatively affected the country’s economy (Reddy et al., 2004).

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According to the Pacific Regional Millennium Development Goals Tracking Report (Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, 2015), Fiji achieved five of the eight UN MDGs by 2015: MDG 2 – achieving universal primary education; MDG 4 – reducing child mortality; MDG 5 – reducing maternal mortality; MDG 7 – ensuring environment sustainability; and MDG 8 – developing a global partnership for development. The goals of eradicating extreme poverty (MDG 1), promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls (MDG 3), and combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases (MDG 6) remain unfulfilled (UNESCAP, 2015). In introducing Fiji’s work on the UN SDGs, UNESCAP (2015) highlighted four main challenges: (1) financing; (2) developing statistical monitoring and evaluation capacity; (3) developing ownership among all stakeholders; and (4) fostering public awareness. Fiji’s 2018 HDI score was 0.752, putting the country in the middle (92nd) of the global HDI rankings (UNDP, 2018). With over 800 villages and settlements, the community level is an important facet of Fiji’s cultural and political life (Kitolelei & Sato, 2016). Traditional social systems and decision-making structures still have a strong hold in the communities, with village chiefs, elders, and religious leaders being important leaders and knowledge brokers (Bola, 2016; Hassall, 2005; Kitolelei & Sato, 2016). Traditional practices of, for example, marine stewardship through the tabu tradition, which prohibits fishing in particular areas at particular times, are still prevalent in coastal villages as a means to prevent overfishing, along with traditional village practices of collaboration in community activities and natural resource management (Kitolelei & Sato 2016). Another traditional practice, which is also gaining increased attention in international climate policy through the UNFCCC facilitative dialogue, is talanoa, a Pacific deliberation process involving the ‘sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling’ (UNFCCC, 2018). Fiji’s recent political history has been plagued by controversies. In 1970, Fiji gained independence from Great Britain after almost 100 years as a British colony. In 1987, two military coups took place, resulting in a shift of ethnic majority in Fiji. Tensions about the composition of government, which was perceived as dominated by the Indian community, led to the coups. Following the introduction of a new 1990 constitution that increased Melanesian control of Fiji, a large proportion of the Indo-Fijian community emigrated, establishing ethnic Melanesians as the country’s new majority (Hassall, 2005). However, other coups were to follow, first a civilian coup in 2000 and then a military coup in 2006. After a long period of political turmoil and postponed elections, elections were finally held in 2014, resulting in a win for the 2006 coup leader and self-appointed prime minister, Voreque (Frank) Bainimarama. As a low-lying island developing state, Fiji is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, such as sea level rise and the increased intensity and frequency

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of extreme weather events (Barros et al., 2014). In 2014, Fiji became the first country in the Pacific to relocate a village due to flooding and coastal erosion attributed in part to climate change (OCHA, 2014). In February 2016, Fiji was severely hit by Cyclone Winston, ‘the strongest cyclone ever recorded to hit the South Pacific nation’ (Noy, 2016:343). This category-five storm resulted in fortyfour deaths and damaged or destroyed 40,000 homes. Approximately 350,000 people (~40 per cent of Fiji’s population) were significantly affected by the storm, with total damage costs amounting to USD 1.4 billion. In the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, Fiji’s minister responsible for disaster risk management issued the following statement: ‘Fiji recognizes the importance of building resilience to this new norm of frequent natural hazards and effects of climate change to ensure sustainable development and saving lives in the future. These changes to our environment are evident with the recent Cyclone Winston’ (Republic of Fiji, 2016a). Prime Minister Bainimarama has repeatedly highlighted the climate change risks facing Fiji, for example, in a statement at the UN high-level debate in April 2016 on the achievement of the SDGs, in which he stated that climate change posed a particular threat to achieving societal transformation towards sustainability: Climate change is threatening the social and economic wellbeing not only of Fijians but the people of small and vulnerable developing states the world over. It is impeding our ability to develop strong economies. And unless we can overcome the challenge that climate change poses, there is little hope of countries like Fiji meeting their Sustainable Development Goals. And being able to make the fundamental transformation in the lives of our people that the 2030 global agenda entails. (Republic of Fiji, 2016b)

Fiji has taken an increasingly active role in international policy and debate on climate change. Prior to the COP 21 in Paris, Fiji was one of the parties behind the Suva Declaration on Climate Change (Pacific Islands Development Forum Secretariat, 2015) that, among other matters, called for ‘the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement to limit global average temperature increase to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in order to transition towards deep decarbonisation’. Fiji was the first country in the world to ratify the Paris Agreement ahead of the signing ceremony in April 2016. In 2017, Fiji hosted COP 23. In collaboration with Sweden, Fiji co-chairs the Ocean Pathway Partnership that was launched during COP 23, and the two countries co-hosted the 2017 UN Conference to support the implementation of SDG 14 (‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’) in New York. Fiji’s sustainable development aspirations are organised through the country’s Green Growth Framework. Launched in 2014, this framework strives to be

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‘innovative in finding new transformative solutions to long-standing problems’, highlighting the need for ‘a paradigm shift in thinking which will result in change that is transformative’ (Republic of Fiji, 2014:11–12). While emphasising the need for economic development, this report states that such development must meet sustainability standards. It is estimated that implementing this framework will bring about the unconditional one-third reduction in emissions pledged in Fiji’s NDC, while the other two-thirds are conditional, depending on external funding. While striving to expand renewable energy for electricity generation, Fiji is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels for transport. This is particularly notable in the case of sea transport, which is crucial for fishing, as well as for local transport and inter-regional maritime transport, all of which are fossil fuel dependent (Bola, 2016). Although sea transport is highlighted as a prioritised area in the Green Growth Framework, the main focus is on the access to and safety of transport, fossil fuel dependence being mentioned only in passing in the ambitions to ‘incorporate incentives for trialing and adoption of low carbon technologies for domestic shipping in relevant strategies, policies and plans’ and to ‘support initiatives that assist in the transition to a low carbon sea transport future such as the Oceania Centre for Sustainable transport’ (Republic of Fiji, 2014:88). What this transition entails, how it should come about, and what is meant by ‘low carbon’ are, however, not clarified in the Green Growth Framework. 5.3.1 Fiji Focus Groups When the focus group participants in Fiji were asked what type of society they would like to see in 2050, they described a future characterised by social and environmental sustainability. Social sustainability was stressed as an overarching goal by all groups, signalled by recurrent key words such as ‘peaceful’ and ‘friendly’ with reference to society. The need for modern and well-functioning infrastructure, not only in tourist areas, but benefitting all citizens, was also emphasised. Among the barriers to achieving a peaceful society, focus group participants cited problems related to corruption and police brutality as areas in particular need of change. Environmental sustainability was framed as a matter of creating a ‘pollutionfree’ and ‘clean’ society in which current problems of littering and poor waste management are solved. To achieve an environmentally sustainable society, participants pointed to the importance of raising awareness in communities, initiating education efforts in primary schools, working through family and village structures, and developing well-functioning systems for recycling. Both social and environmental sustainability were framed in relation to the impacts of global climate change and Fiji’s vulnerable position as a low-lying

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island state. For example, participants pointed to the need for climate change mitigation and adaptation by telling personal stories about how they experienced changes in crops and how extreme weather events such as Cyclone Winston affected their villages, with social implications such as infrastructure damage or the possible relocation of entire communities inland. When envisioning the future in 2050, the Fiji focus groups framed a sustainable future in collective terms. The use of the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘us’ abounded in participants’ discussions of pathways towards sustainability, and the participants frequently used the stock phrase ‘working together’ when discussing how to attain sustainability. The idea of ‘working together’ became a leitmotif in a narrative about the need for collective action and a sense of unity between leaders and citizens as well as between generations. In the collective action narrative, education and awareness raising stand out as key features that will enable the transformation towards sustainability. This is well in line with what other studies have documented as part of traditional decision-making systems in villages in Fiji, where there is a strong emphasis on collaborative work to attain community goals (Kitolelei & Sato, 2016). Within this common narrative, however, participants differed in their interpretations of who should initiate the joint work. Some advocated state-led initiatives with the aim of raising awareness among citizens; others advocated a bottom-up approach in which small communities could initiate change, becoming role models for others to follow. In the focus group discussions, participants articulated three views of the changes needed in order to achieve sustainability and of how it should come about. One argument emphasised the need to return to traditional ways of life and to learn from the past how to handle present and future challenges. In this view, change should not occur for its own sake, and there needs to be careful consideration of which societal structures to keep and which ones to change. Another version of this argument was that sustainable futures could be attained by relying on local and traditional knowledge of how the environment was stewarded in the past. In this view, change will take place through returning to older traditions, although for a new purpose, namely, to achieve environmental sustainability. A second argument was that changes towards sustainability would emerge from the grassroots level, which could be scaled up over time and become a way of leading by example. Here the community level was seen as key to initiating incremental change. A third argument saw change as transformational, as comprising ‘big shifts’. Here, focus group participants advocated new ways of thinking about sustainability and responsibility, changing ‘the whole mindset’ of people in villages as well as in cities regarding how they treat the environment, particularly when it comes to littering and recycling.

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5.3.2 Varieties of Transformation in Fiji Fiji’s main transformation goal is to achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda. This target marks the periodisation for at least the first stage of the Fiji transformation, according to the government documents, while the focus groups instead had a three-decade perspective. In the focus groups, a socially inclusive society was the overarching goal. Both the official documents and the focus groups were aligned in stressing that these goals were primarily to be propelled by new thinking, with education and awareness raising as principal drivers of change. A secondorder driver identified by some participants was a desire to look to traditional ways of life as a guide for the future. Fiji stands out among our cases in emphasising the collective as the primary actor in achieving transformation towards sustainability. This could be done in two ways, through government-led incentives or by small communities taking the initiative, stepwise scaling up their efforts over time and inspiring others to follow. While the scope of most focus group discussions as well as the official documents pertains to particular transformations, the focus group data indicate that there were some discussions of larger transformations – that is, ‘big shifts’ in mindsets. However, even these big shifts referred to shifts in mindsets related to particular issues seen as especially problematic, mainly littering and recycling.

5.4 Sweden: Towards a Fossil Free Welfare State Sweden exemplifies a high-income country with the political ambition to be one of the world’s first fossil-fuel-free welfare states. With 10 million inhabitants, Sweden has a GDP per capita of USD 53,400 (World Bank, 2019b) and an HDI score of 0.933, giving it an HDI ranking of 7th in the world (UNDP, 2018). Of all ninety-seven countries included in the World Values Survey (2016), Sweden displays the highest score on self-expression values and the second highest score, following Japan, on secular–rational values. According to other surveys, Sweden also displays a high degree of public concern about environmental degradation and climate (Bergström & Oscarsson, 2017; European Commission, 2017). Over the past few years, societal transformation has become an integrated part of Swedish mainstream climate and environmental policy discourse. Since Sweden is part of the EU, its contribution to the Paris Agreement is the EU’s NDC, which does not mention transformation or transition. However, Sweden has explicitly communicated its political intention to take leadership in societal transformations towards decarbonisation by mobilising domestic non-state actors and challenging other countries to follow this example (Statens Offentliga Utredningar, 2016:21). A government-led initiative, called Fossil Free Sweden, was launched in 2015 to

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bring together different types of organisations, including businesses and municipalities, in a network showcasing how Swedish actors are working towards decarbonisation (Government of Sweden, 2015). The Fossil Free Sweden initiative is a contribution to the Lima–Paris Action Agenda, with measures reviewed and registered in the NAZCA Global Climate Action database. Moreover, the Swedish government has explicitly stated that Sweden should be leading in implementing the 2030 Agenda (Government of Sweden, 2016). Since 1999, Sweden’s domestic efforts to achieve environmental sustainability have been organised through a system of national environmental quality objectives, targets, and assessment indicators. The idea is to integrate environmental concerns into all sectors of society (Nilsson et al., 2009). In 2016, the Cross-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives composed of members of parliament, advisers, and experts from NGOs and government ministries, proposed a climate policy framework for Sweden. The resultant climate law took effect in January 2018. The CrossParty Committee as well as the government stress the need for societal transformation to achieve international as well as national climate goals. According to the climate policy framework, Sweden’s goal is to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2045. The Swedish case study was carried out in Östergötland County, which markets itself as a hub for industrial ecology and the circular economy and has invested heavily in, for example, facilities for biogas production (Clean Tech Östergötland, 2018). 5.4.1 Swedish Focus Groups When brainstorming about the type of society the Swedish focus group participants wanted to see in the future, most of their comments related to either social or environmental sustainability. When discussing social sustainability, participants often cited examples from developing countries outside Europe. Recurrent key words in their discussions of social sustainability referred to global issues such as peace, democracy, an open society, human rights, health, education, equality, and global justice, as well as domestic welfare issues related to the preservation of a good standard of health care, education, employment, and food quality. The realism of wishing for a peaceful world was debated across the groups, especially against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Syria and the many refugees seeking asylum in Sweden. The discussions of environmental sustainability were recurrently cast in a technology framing, emphasising the need for resource efficiency and the development of low-carbon energy technologies such as solar and wind power. Electric cars in particular stood out as a symbol of modern, eco-friendly societies. Another

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recurrent frame was the ‘nature’ frame, in which participants tended to distinguish themselves and their everyday lives from nature, stressing ‘nature’ as a place for human recreation and pointing to the need to decrease human impact on nature, for example, by reducing chemical use, farming organically, and preserving biodiversity. A recurrent sense-making resource in the Swedish focus group discussions was the participants’ use of distinctions, notably, between ‘us’ and ‘them’. They particularly distinguished Sweden and/or high-income countries in the Global North from developing countries in the Global South, mainly in discussions concerning the social sustainability theme. Using the metaphor of ‘balance’, participants highlighted inequalities in living conditions between different parts of the world, and argued that citizens in highincome countries need to lower their material living standards to allow poorer societies room to increase theirs. Participants often referred to problems of, for example, conflict, public health, and gender inequality in countries other than Sweden. When discussing societal change, participants were fairly optimistic about the possibility of changing societal norms and habits, although this may only happen slowly. For example, one group illustrated their line of reasoning by drawing analogies with the introduction of women’s right to vote. When specifically discussing measures to tackle climate change, participants regarded technological innovation and lifestyle changes as most efficient. However, participants often questioned the effectiveness both of their individual actions and of Sweden’s efforts, on the grounds that these actions were perceived as limited in scope. They emphasised that other people and other countries need to take similar actions in order to justify any lifestyle changes. Sweden, according to the participants, might be a role model for other countries, but will not have real impact until bigger countries take action. Here, the ‘us versus them’ distinction became a leitmotif in a collective action narrative that stressed responsibility and burden-sharing among many actors, at a global scale. 5.4.2 Varieties of Transformation in Sweden Swedish documents stand out in emphasising that the country should achieve national climate goals as well as contributing to international climate action. According to the national climate policy framework, Sweden should have succeeded in reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2045. The focus groups homed in on environmental and social sustainability goals. Grand global issues, such as democracy, an open society, human rights, equality, and global justice, took centre stage. Domestically, welfare issues such as

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employment and food quality were in focus. On the global as well as the local level education and health were key goals. In terms of drivers of change, Sweden stands out as optimistically emphasising energy technology innovations, this being true of both the studied official documents and the focus groups. The latter were also optimistic about the prospects of influencing societal norms and habits over a longer time period. In terms of scale, the focus groups distinguished between goals for Sweden and/or high-income countries in the Global North and those for developing countries in the Global South. Yet, focus group participants frequently questioned the effectiveness of smallscale initiatives, whether their own or those of Sweden as a country, as these actions were framed as small relative to the challenges. Participants stated that the bigger emitters need to take action. Officially, Sweden itself was seen as an important actor, by taking leadership in societal transformations towards decarbonisation. An important part of this leadership is to mobilise domestic non-state actors, not least through platforms for businesses and municipalities to showcase Swedish solutions. 5.5 Boulder, Colorado, USA: A US Frontrunner The USA, with a population of around 323 million inhabitants (US Census Bureau, 2017), ranked thirteenth among the world’s countries in the human development ranking in 2018. The country has an HDI of 0.924 (UNDP, 2018) and a GDP per capita of USD 59,532 (World Bank, 2019b). Together with China, the USA was the first of the high-emitting countries to ratify the Paris Agreement in September 2016. Its NDC does not mention transformation, but refers to what is often seen as the less comprehensive version of systemic change: transition. The USA boldly declares that its 2025 target (i.e., GHG emissions 26–28 per cent below 2005 levels) is consistent ‘with a path to deep decarbonisation’ with ‘economy-wide emission reductions of 80% or more by 2050’. This pathway is itself part of rapid global transition to a low-carbon economy. The concept of ‘deep decarbonisation’ is defined in transformational terms. For example, the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project, which clearly has had some policy impact, explains that ‘limiting global warming to 2°C or less will require global GHG emissions to be greatly reduced by 2050. This will require a profound transformation of how energy is supplied and used around the world’ (DDPP, 2017). At least indirectly, the US contribution to the Paris Agreement is clothed in transformational parlance. However, the fact that the US ratification was based on the president’s signature and not on a senate decision testified to the sharply divided domestic political

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landscape with regard to climate change. Under the Trump administration, further polarisation surfaced, with environmental and climate policies being revoked, climate sceptics being appointed to leading cabinet positions, and the USA announcing its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. More broadly, the USA displays a mixed pattern as regards public views and values. According to the World Values Survey (2016), the USA somewhat paradoxically scores high in both traditional values and self-expression values. While the former ‘emphasize the importance of religion, parent–child ties, deference to authority, and traditional family values’, the latter ‘give high priority to environmental protection, growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality, and rising demands for participation in decision-making in economic and political life’. However, when it comes to environmental protection, 74 per cent of respondents in May 2016 agreed with the statement that ‘this country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment’, while no more than 23 per cent agreed that the USA ‘has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment’ (Pew Research Center, 2016). Data from the Pew Research Center (2016) indicate that US survey respondents were relatively pessimistic about the future. To the question, ‘In general, would you say life in America today is better, worse, or about the same as it was fifty years ago for people like you?’, 35 per cent said it was better, 43 per cent worse, and 15 per cent about the same. Prospects for younger generations were seen as even more dire, with only one of four respondents thinking that the next generation of Americans will have better lives than those of today. Almost half of the respondents instead envisioned a darker future for the young (Anderson, 2016). Public views of climate change have attracted particular attention from environmental social scientists. In the USA, the public is largely divided on this issue. Since 2008, Yale University and George Mason Institute have conducted repeated surveys about how climate change is perceived by US respondents. According to various dimensions, including climate change beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviours, these surveys segment the US public into six different groups: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive. In December 2018, 18 per cent of respondents of the Global Warming’s Six Americas study were categorised as doubtful or dismissive of anthropogenic climate change, while 59 per cent were reportedly alarmed or concerned. Seventeen per cent were categorised as cautious and 5 per cent as disengaged (Leiserowitz et al., 2019). In this polarised landscape of public values and priorities, we chose to focus our case study inquiries on the city of Boulder in Colorado. Far from being a typical US city, we selected Boulder as a case because it positions itself as an advanced environmental city that explicitly refers to the need for transformation. The city is sometimes referred to as the ‘People’s Republic of Boulder’, signalling a self-

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image as a broad-minded city that, along with several other mid-west university towns, was a popular hippie destination in the 1960s. Boulder has a culture of probing new policy pathways; for example, the city pushed Colorado’s decision to legalise marijuana use and it was the first city in the state to ban smoking in bars. Boulder frequently ranks among the US cities with the highest quality of life. It has been ranked number one in Forbes’ America’s Top 25 Towns to Live Well (Woolsey, 2009) and at the top of the 10 Happiest Cities in the USA, according to Moneywatch (Fried, 2011). Boulder County’s Environmental Sustainability Plan underscores the need for local partnerships to develop strategies for residential construction, energy efficiency, natural resources, reducing waste and pollution, enhancing public transport, and creating markets for local sustainable food production. In 2006, city of Boulder voters approved a ‘carbon tax’ on fossil-fuelgenerated electricity, the first of its kind for a municipal government in the USA, to be used to implement the Boulder Climate Action Plan. The Boulder Climate Commitment refers to both transformation and transition: For our community, climate action is about resilience and transformation: we need to adapt to the climate changes that are already in motion, as well as reduce the emissions-heavy activities that drive future climate change. We face a great challenge but also a great opportunity to make Boulder better – to create a healthier, safer and more prosperous community. We need your help to make it happen! (City of Boulder, 2018)

This goal includes transitioning to clean, renewable, and locally generated power. The city explains that what it calls ‘total transition’ entails minimising coal and reducing the use of petroleum and natural gas. The Climate Commitment also involves using resources wisely and restoring urban, farming, and natural ecosystems. The city further emphasises the co-benefits of the transformation, such as creating local jobs and clean air for future generations. 5.5.1 Boulder Focus Groups In the Boulder focus groups, participants expressed a self-identity similar to that conveyed in Boulder’s official documents on sustainability, climate, and transformation. This identity according to the participants differs considerably from that of the average American public in terms of the stated interest in environmental, sustainability, and climate issues and in terms of politically liberal views. When envisioning future societies, the focus group participants emphasised the role of values, and often described preferred futures in relational terms, stressing their desire for sustainable relationships between people and between generations. They repeatedly brought up key words such as empathy, respect, and generosity. There

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was also considerable emphasis on the role of face-to-face interaction between citizens in creating sustainable futures. The focus group exercise was experienced as a good model of arenas for envisioning pathways towards sustainability. A common argument in the focus groups was that the very act of talking about visions of the future is an important part of shaping it, and that the creation of visions can itself be a driver of change. Nonetheless, there was tension in the focus groups between two different views of human nature and of human driving forces for sustainability transformations. One view started from the assumption that people are fundamentally driven by a desire to do good and therefore mainly need arenas for communication about visions, pathways, and lifestyle choices for sustainable futures. In this view, participants stressed the virtues of a sharing society, characterised by generosity within and across generations. These accounts often took their starting point in ecocentric arguments, with participants, for example, stating that ‘if, in my awareness, I know that my life is connected to the whole web of life, I get a different way of behaving’. By contrast, other participants argued that people’s inability to take action for the sake of future generations testifies to the inherent selfishness of human nature. This inability to take appropriate and timely action to protect the environment may lead to abrupt and inadvertent rather than deliberate change. According to this view, changes towards more sustainable everyday choices should not be expected from citizens on an altruistic basis, but need to be motivated by economic incentives, forced through government regulations, or come about in response to tragedies that open people’s minds, such as severe climate change impacts in the forms of floods or droughts. Participants drew analogies with cancer in the family or relatives killed in war, to make the argument that people usually do not think about or react to problems until they are personally affected. A recurrent theme in the focus group discussions therefore concerned what drives change. These discussions related to a question discussed in the social science literature on societal transformations: to what extent does transformation proceed via exogenous versus endogenous processes (Feola, 2015)? Two opposite views co-existed in the focus groups. In the first view, participants argued that transformative change will be triggered by dramatic and negative external events, for example, changes in ecosystem balance caused by climate change. While dire prospects for humanity were mainly foreseen in this view, some participants saw other possibilities, claiming that ‘crises are gonna spark change’. The second view held that change needs to come from within individuals. Here, participants emphasised the role of education and awarenessraising activities to make people conscious of current sustainability problems and take action to change their behaviours, informed by values of co-operation,

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sustainability, and respect for other people and the environment. In the words of one participant, changes ‘need to happen on the inside of human beings’ for institutions to change. Overall, the participants emphasised lifestyle changes, arguing across the groups that fundamental changes can come about through a stepwise approach in which individuals and local communities lead by example to inspire others. However, although bottom-up change was highlighted by many participants as key, this did not mean that the need for top-down action was ruled out. The promise and perils of technology was another topic of much debate in the focus groups. While the need for rapid increase in the use of renewable energy technologies was often stressed as one key to sustainability transformations, participants also raised concerns that a one-sided focus on and excessive hopes for technological innovation would divert attention and reduce the urgency of changes in lifestyle, societal norms, and values, which many claimed were necessary complements to technological development. 5.5.2 Varieties of Transformation in Boulder, Colorado, USA Co-benefits were an important aspect of the rationale for Boulder’s goals: while the appropriate environmental initiatives would result in clean air for coming generations, the city would also prosper from more jobs, better health, and enhanced safety and resilience. For the city, the engines of change indicate a transformation that is limited in both scope and scale. In addition to new and innovative technologies for energy production and carbon sequestration, the primary drivers of transformation were seen to be local partnerships. They were key agents in realising strategies in construction, energy, transport, recycling, food production, residential construction, energy efficiency, natural resources, waste reduction, pollution, enhanced public transport, and creating markets for local sustainable food production. In contrast, the focus group participants emphasised the role of values and creating visions. Whereas the Fiji focus groups emphasised the collective, the Boulder groups talked about personal contributions to sustainable relationships between people and between generations – an individual collectivism. An important enabler for change was new participatory governance platforms such as websites for personal interaction between citizens. In the focus groups, the view of human nature influenced the view of actors. For those seeing humans as fundamentally good, communicative resources were among the principal drivers. For those who emphasised that humans are inherently selfish by nature, involuntary and abrupt transformation was a plausible outcome. The Boulder focus

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groups stand out as the only ones in which the notion of collapse as a catalyst for transformation was clearly articulated. 5.6 Implications for Sustainability Transformations Low-carbon societies are a goal in the case study countries’ contributions to the Paris Agreement. In the other studied documents and in the focus groups, it was the 2030 Agenda and socio-economic development that were the ultimate goals of the three middle-income countries, whereas green growth and climate objectives dominated the official declarations of the high-income cases. The US NDC, while not explicitly using the term transformation, committed to the transformational concept of deep decarbonisation, which in turn was to be part of a radical global transition to a low-carbon economy. The focus groups in all countries centred on environmental and social sustainability goals. National income levels are intertwined with global economic trends. Yet, it was only Cabo Verde among the three middle-income countries that explicitly pondered how it would avert its negative exposure to, or piggyback on, emergent global economic transformations. In the Fiji focus groups, some participants sought an entirely different type of transformation: the alteration of mindsets within the country’s cities and villages. The primary scale across all five case studies was the national arena. However, Guangzhou participants, living in a mega-city region, and the Fiji participants, for whom the village was often an important point of reference, also had the local as a major focus. The focus group participants in Boulder frequently emphasised the importance of a bottom-up approach, in which change comes about through individual and local community actions that can inspire others to act. Cabo Verde and China placed their official national visions of transformation within a regional context. While Sweden emphasised national transformation goals, its success was hoped to influence other countries. The scope in all five case studies, documents and focus groups was primarily on particular, sector-specific transformations, mostly related to energy production and consumption. As we saw in Chapter 4, only a few countries applied a century temporal perspective, which still would be a short time span for the major historic transformations addressed in Chapter 3. Among the focus groups in this chapter, Boulder participants envisioned changing societal norms and habits over the course of the century. A more common argument in most focus groups, though, was that it is too difficult to envisage changes that occur too far in the future. In all five cases, the envisioned transformations represented amalgamations between older and new emerging structures. However, the discussions in some of

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the Boulder focus groups reflected the collapse framing, which surface in environmental civilisation critique as well as in some of the academic analyses of macrotransformations covered in Chapter 3. Participants expressed divergent views of whether societal transformations will primarily be constructive, bringing about increased sustainability as result of positive visions and deliberate action from a range of societal actors – the most common framing across the focus groups – or whether transformation will be the inescapable consequence of environmental and societal crises or collapse caused by humans who are inherently selfish in nature. While the envisioned actors and drivers naturally differed between the case study sites, there were some commonalities. Citizens as key actors and the importance of spurring engagement and creating platforms were common themes across the focus groups and were often highlighted officially as well. Correspondingly, education and capacity-building were frequently identified as engines of change in all case study sites. However, in none of the study sites did the participants trust only ‘change of heart’ or more knowledge as the sole driver of change, and some were even sceptical of the possibility of transforming human nature. Regardless, government regulations were frequently proposed to be a vital driver, on their own or as a complement. These two views mark a dividing line in the focus group data related to whether transformation needs to be a top-down, government-led process, or whether it should start from the bottom and work upwards, involving local communities, grassroots movements, and engaged individuals who, although uncoordinated, may contribute to major change. Participants in the Guangzhou groups often pointed to the role of the central government in initiating change, but they also stressed the responsibility of individual citizens in contributing to sustainability through their everyday actions and choices. In the Swedish focus groups, somewhat contrary to the national ambition to act as a sustainability leader on the international stage, participants questioned the effectiveness of individual citizen actions and of a small country taking actions if others are not doing the same. In the Boulder, Fiji, and Cabo Verde groups, participants often emphasised that sustainability transformations need to start from the bottom and work upwards. Here, the role of local agents in instigating change, acting as role models, and pushing political leaders to take action was highlighted. In line with the bottom-up framing of transformation, education and awarenessraising among citizens were seen as key prerequisites for change. This was particularly the case in the Fiji and Cabo Verde focus groups, in which participants stressed the need for further basic information about environmental and health risks and about how to protect oneself from such risks, in combination with further possibilities for professional training and capacity building.

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A striking difference between the national contributions to the Paris Agreement and the focus groups was the latter’s relatively little interest in new technology, particularly for energy production. It was primarily in the Swedish and Guangzhou groups that technological optimism was a dominant theme. One recurrent theme across the focus groups concerned the role of visions and values in societal transformations towards sustainability. In most focus groups, these were highlighted as crucial to achieving transformation, and participants repeatedly acknowledged what they saw as the value of participating in the focus group sessions: engaging in structured conversation about sustainable societies and visions of the future, and reflecting on what it will take to get there. Articulating visions of the future, some participants claimed, is crucial for transforming societies towards sustainability. Analogies to earlier particular transformations, such as women claiming their right to vote, the shift from analogue to digital societies, or Cabo Verde’s rapid shift from a least developed to a lower middle-income country, fuelled participants’ arguments that sustainability transformations are indeed possible. Regardless of whether we identify visions as the primary engines of change or just as reflecting pre-existing experiences, participants from all five case study areas found them to be empowering. Nonetheless, some focus group participants questioned the realism of the visions, calling for a pragmatic approach to transformation that takes into account the hardships and preconditions facing each particular country.

6 Transformation Narratives

All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan. We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind . . . We resolve, between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. (UN General Assembly, 2015:preamble and para. 3, emphasis added)

Societal transformation is often treated as a consensus concept. Yet, as we have seen in previous chapters, transformation carries different meanings in different countries, times, and circumstances. After looking into sense-making in scientific exploration, media reports around the world, high-level UN politics, Paris Agreement contributions and accompanying background reports, and focus groups, we see multi-faceted meaning-making as inherent to the concept, yet with some common themes. In this chapter, we take a look at the narratives of transformation. We identify five core narratives, all found in the quotation at the start of this chapter from the UN’s Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: transformation as a journey, a building process, a war, co-creation, and recuperation. Transformation can be seen as a journey, signalled by metaphorical usages such as ‘steps’, ‘path’, and ‘embark’. The building narrative highlights another view of transformation, as being about ‘building peaceful, just and inclusive societies’. Yet another core narrative tells the story of transformation as a war, whereby the planet will become ‘secure’ and ‘protected’ and humans will be freed from the ‘tyranny’ 123

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of enemies such as ‘poverty and want’ through engaging in ‘combat’ against inequality. This stands in contrast to the co-creation narrative, with its emphasis on ‘collaborative partnership’ and ‘inclusive societies’. Finally, the recuperation narrative tells about ‘healing’ and restoring the planet, conveying a call to heal or restore a society that is sick or broken, but not yet destroyed. The quotation from the 2030 Agenda also illustrates how a single text can convey multiple narratives that are by no means mutually exclusive. 6.1 Transformation as a Journey Sustainability transformation as a journey is one of the more common core narratives, particularly recurring in the media material, NDCs, and policy reports. It is a story of individuals, actor groups, and countries leaving behind unsustainable conditions and practices, finding or blazing new paths while overcoming obstacles, and moving towards a brighter future. In this narrative, as it plays out in our material, metaphors such as ‘pathway’, ‘direction’, and ‘embarking’ are common. For example, as countries embark on a low-carbon development pathway, they will require certain mechanisms to keep up the momentum and head in the right direction. Usually these mechanisms take the form of long-term international co-operation and financial support. The narrative also implies that this journey is needed because progress has stalled, that things need to change, and that the journey encounters many obstacles and crossroads. The journey is a frequent conceptual metaphor (Lakoff, 1993) used in many languages (Ritchie, 2008) and can be mapped onto a variety of domains, as in ‘love is a journey’ (Lakoff, 1993), ‘grief is a journey’ (Ritchie, 2008), ‘argument is a journey’ (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), or even ‘life is a journey’ (McEnteeAtalianis, 2011; Turner, 1990). Journeying connotes change, progress (Milne et al., 2006), movement, speed, and overcoming obstacles (McEntee-Atalianis, 2011). Journeying is also sometimes associated with risks and dangers, as in traditional folk tales of heroic quests. In fact, Harré et al. (1999) argued that environmental narratives closely follow the structure of traditional storytelling. The story starts with the citizens of a country living harmoniously in a pristine state of nature; a threat emerges, often in the form of a villain (e.g., an environmental hazard). In response, the hero or heroes set out on a difficult journey to counter the threat and solve the problem: for example, researchers make discoveries, civil society mobilises, and politicians take bold action. The hero experiences hardships and failures (e.g., setbacks in environmental actions) before finally accomplishing the mission, and life for the inhabitants of the country, although changed, returns to a happy state

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(e.g., pollutants phased out, environmental degradation reduced, and environmental prospects improved). The journey metaphor also crosses cultures. Joseph Campbell (2008) famously compared mythologies from different parts of the world that have persisted for thousands of years. In myths around the world, he found a fundamental archetypical journey on which heroes embark – hence the title of his famed book: The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell’s analysis of a universal monomyth has been discussed at length in academia, but also found its way into popular culture, as many authors and script writers have used the schematic elements of the journey that Campbell identified. For instance, film-maker George Lucas acknowledged the influence of the hero’s journey archetype in creating the Star Wars trilogy (Campbell, 2003). Campbell summarises the hero’s journey narrative as follows: ‘A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder (x): fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won (y): the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man (z)’ (Campbell, 2008:23). Campbell’s monomyth structure has been criticised by many contemporary scholars as ‘highly general and universal’ (Northup, 2006:8), obscuring the many cultural differences across time and space. This observation should be recalled in this discussion of common transformation narratives. Just because certain narratives share a structure and metaphors, this does not mean that people in different settings and times will make sense of them in the same ways. Regardless of whether Campbell’s elaborated structure and his framing of multiple stories as a monomyth hold, the journey as a metaphor has undoubtedly permeated myths over time and around the world. Similarly, we conclude that, even though the meanings of metaphors and leitmotifs change over time and space, they still provide some common clues to making sense of transformations. Although the folk tale and the hero’s journey structures can be identified in many framings of environmental problems, the journey narrative is certainly not restricted to these structures. As we shall see, the journey narrative can take several forms. A prime example of the journey narrative in sustainability transformation discourse is found in a press release produced by the press agency of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and quoted by international media during COP21 in Paris. The press release briefly set the context for the 2015 Paris climate negotiations by pointing out that ‘thousands of companies and investors and thousands of mayors and regional governments announced their commitment to the essential economic and social transformation to low-carbon, sustainable growth and development’. It then continued, quoting the COP21 opening speech of then UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres:

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Ms. Figueres said that the past year had been a turning point and that after many years of hard work, the world was finally seeing that the direction towards a low-carbon, resilient future was irreversible. ‘This turning point is truly remarkable, but the task is not done. It is up to you to both capture this progress and chart an unequivocal path forward, with a clear destination, agreed milestones and a predictable timeline that responds to the demands of science and the urgency of the challenge’. (UNFCCC, 2015ac, emphasis added)

Employing metaphors such as ‘direction’, ‘chart a path’, ‘destination’, and ‘milestones’, the text depicts a linear journey that progresses from a departure point to an end point (cf. Hultman & Nordlund, 2013). It positions world leaders as having both the agency and the responsibility to deliberately steer transformation. Their agency is seen as limited, however, as humanity has come to a ‘turning point’ after which business as usual is impossible, as the ‘direction’ towards a low-carbon future is ‘irreversible’ and therefore now a precondition on which all actors must base their actions and decisions. In the quotation from COP21, the turning point metaphor evokes more deterministic images of transformation dynamics than that of simply charting paths. Nonetheless, the passage starts by stating that the turning point has been reached after long and hard work, implying the same deliberate and steered transformation mentioned later in the excerpt. The quotation exemplifies a common notion in policy texts on transformation: that, as we have agreed on what the ultimate destination should be like (i.e., low carbon and resilient), we know what and where the destination is and consequently not only agree on the direction, but also share the road to the goal. Considerable agency is assigned to the all-embracing ‘we’ in the UN 2030 Agenda. For example, paragraph 53 states: ‘We have mapped the road to sustainable development; it will be for all of us to ensure that the journey is successful and its gains irreversible.’ Moreover, the preamble of the 2030 Agenda, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, speaks in metaphorical language about the need for ‘bold and transformative steps’ to ‘shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path’. Here, again, journeying is portrayed as a heroic endeavour, and the roads towards sustainability are mapped and agreed on. This version of the journey narrative contains two sub-narratives: the dominant one of transformation as a path, and another focusing on the driver metaphors. For example, in a media text reporting on the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association and a keynote speech on lessons learnt from Kenya, it was argued that the Kenyan judiciary needed to ‘transform itself first so that it could be imbued with the ethos of the transformative constitution to lead the change and be the true engine of societal transformation’ (This Day, 2015). Uganda’s Vision 2040 (Uganda, 2010) singled out institutions propagating cultural attributes,

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including attitudes, values, skills, and knowledge, as drivers of its socio-economic transformation. Nigeria invoked both these sub-narratives as it set out to review its climate commitments to the Paris Agreement within a framework ‘intended to enable Nigeria to develop strategic, long-term, participatory, transformational measures and comprehensive programs in driving towards a low carbon climate resilient and pro-growth and gender sensitive and sustainable development path’ (UNFCCC, 2015k:18, emphasis added). In their NDCs, almost fifty countries specify either that their actions should lead to transformation of some kind, or that transformation is essential in order to reach particular political goals. The most common transformation is that towards a lowcarbon course of development, the pathway metaphor frequently being employed in expressing this (cf. UNFCCC, 2015a, 2015g, 2015j, 2015z, 2015ad). Some of the countries envisioning a pathway towards transformation, indicate that the transformation itself is the goal, whereas others, such as Georgia, state that transformation will put its economy on a ‘low carbon and climate resilient pathway’ (UNFCCC, 2015ae:4, emphasis added). Both Mexico and Lesotho declare that they are ‘responsible part[ies] committed to tackling global climate change by transforming . . . [their] development route to a low emissions pathway, which requires progressive decoupling of carbon emissions from economic growth’ (UNFCCC, 2015f:17, 2015g:3, emphasis added). For some countries, the long-term destination of the journey along the pathway is to rise from being a low- to a middle-income country, while mitigating GHG emissions (e.g., UNFCCC, 2015k, 2015m). Embarking on a journey not only entails travelling towards something, it also presupposes leaving something behind. The journey narrative of societal transformation departs from unsustainable conditions, manifested, for example, in focus group participants’ accounts of: poverty, water shortage, health and sanitation problems, and unpreparedness for natural disasters in Cabo Verde; waste management problems and traffic congestion in Guangzhou; corruption, littering, and cyclone damage in Fiji; unsustainable production and consumption patterns in Sweden; and lack of public engagement with environmental issues in Boulder (cf. Wibeck et al., 2019). Nonetheless, the main focus of the journey narrative, as it plays out in our material, is not on the past, but on the present. Situating the journey in time and space is an important component of the narrative. Particular attention is paid to the act of embarking, signalling that from now on things will be different – the journey has finally started. For example, returning to the UN 2030 Agenda, paragraph 52 emphasises the here-and-now of societal transformations: ‘“We the peoples” are the celebrated opening words of the Charter of the United Nations. It is “we the

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peoples” who are embarking today on the road to 2030’ (UN General Assembly, 2015, emphasis added). What are the implications of conceptualising societal transformations towards sustainability as a journey? In a way, this conceptualisation seems inevitable, since the transformation concept itself (‘towards sustainability’) indicates movement. This taken-for-granted presence of the journey narrative makes it all the more important to reflect on what dimensions of transformation the narrative highlights and what dimensions it hides. Starting with potential risks, we would like to point out two aspects of the journey narrative that can be problematic: opaque goal setting and the neglect of ongoing transformations. First, it has been argued (Milne et al., 2006:825) that a potential problem with the journey metaphor is that organisations adopting it ‘are (re)presenting themselves as doing some things to change and are aware that they have to do more, without necessarily specifying in any particular detail what the ultimate destination of their respective journeys will be’. As we saw in Chapters 4 and 5, however, our data included relatively numerous mentions of varied transformation goals, some rather vague, others more specific. At the beginning of their paper ‘Creating Adventures in Wonderland’, which explores the use of the journey metaphor in business discourse on sustainability, Markus J. Milne et al. (2006) quoted a passage from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that they see as analogous to much of the sustainability discourse based on the journey metaphor. When Alice first met the Cheshire cat after arriving in Wonderland, she asked it about the way, and the following conversation unfolded: ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to’, said the Cat. ‘I don’t much care where –’, said Alice. ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go’, said the Cat. ‘– so long as I get somewhere’, Alice added as an explanation. ‘Oh, you’re sure to do that’, said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough’. (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, quoted in Milne et al. (2006:802))

This, Milne et al. (2006) suggested, recalled how sustainability was often framed in the business reports, advertisements, and commentaries they studied: the important part of the journey was embarking and getting going, while the destination was rarely clearly stated. In this view, the journey metaphor becomes problematic, since it – as in Alice’s conversation with the Cat – puts the spotlight on movement and change as worthwhile in their own right, while shunning any deeper discussion of how to know when the journey has reached its end. When sustainability becomes

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a process rather than an end state, Milne et al. (2006:813) argued, the journey narrative ‘precludes the disruptive and radical leap in imagination that is utopianism’. In other words, using the journey narrative becomes a way to depoliticise sustainability transformations, framing them as uncontested positions, rather than as issues about which there are varied politically, even ideologically, contested standpoints. Depoliticising fundamental societal problems can serve the purpose of maintaining power structures, preventing regulation, shunning ideological debate, and ultimately sidelining transparent decision-making. Second, while this emphasis on embarking on new endeavours may rally actors to the cause of sustainability transformations, it also risks downplaying efforts already made by others. In contrast, the following quotation from a Cabo Verde focus group, in which participants discussed how the country had changed for the better after independence from Portugal in 1975, despite poor economic conditions, describes how these changes can be used as a template for further transformations: After independence there were a lot of good things, and all of us know what the income of the government finance sector was. It was miserable and a lot was done then, and that is what makes me proud of this country, of those who made this country, and I will fight to the end to leave a country that the kids will be proud of also. (Cabo Verde focus group 2)

In Cabo Verde, our studies found that the transformation notion often was seen as continuing the transformation that commenced in the 1970s (cf. Wibeck et al., 2019). Rather than starting a new journey of transformation, the task is to adjust the course of an ongoing journey. While the use of the journey metaphor has been heavily criticised for downplaying responsibility, as actors can conveniently hide behind statements such as ‘we have embarked on this journey, we are on our way’ (cf. Milne et al., 2006), it is arguably equally problematic when actors claim that, rather than having recently embarked on the journey, they have already arrived at the destination. This was the pattern found by Ihlen and Roper (2011) in their analysis of non-financial reports from the world’s largest corporations, in which many companies did not present themselves as on a journey towards sustainability, but emphasised that ‘they have already integrated sustainability principles and that they have worked like this for years’ (Ihlen & Roper, 2011:42). While an ahistoric journey narrative may downplay past struggles for sustainability and divert attention from much-needed deliberations on what sustainability means as an end goal in different groups and different societies, the journey narrative also highlights the importance of moving forwards, and not ceasing in efforts to transform societies towards sustainability. Just as the abolition of slavery

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did not reach a firm end point with the signing of the British Slavery Abolition Act (cf. Chapter 3), sustainability is not a simple end goal that will once and for all be achieved at a single point in time. Analogous to the present-day SDG 8.7, stressing the need to continue working against contemporary slavery, societal transformations towards sustainability may be seen as continuous processes, a utopian quest in the sense that the good place does not exist as a destination to arrive at, but as an aspiration to guide actions. Even if sustainability would be achieved, in its social and environmental dimensions, changing conditions will necessitate constant adjustments for it to be maintained. Narratives, in this case based on the journey metaphor, relate to sequences of linked events. The journey narrative communicates that the sustainability transformations called for will not transpire of their own accord, but rather require active choices to leave behind current conditions. It may also indicate that the transformations will require a series of events extended over time, for example, as signalled by ‘milestones’. Using the journey narrative can be an effective way to communicate several fundamental assumptions about the implications of the transformation concept. 6.2 Transformation as a Building Process Another common core narrative, accentuated in media texts, contributions to the Paris Agreement, and policy reports, is the building narrative. This narrative comes in at least two versions. The first version is future oriented, telling the story of how something new is constructed through the joint efforts of architects and builders (Hagelsteen & Becker, 2013; Walters, 2007). New buildings are either constructed on previously uninhabited ground or on cleared sites after old buildings are torn down. The second version is simultaneously both forward looking and retrospective, as it presupposes that buildings are already in place, but that thorough restoration and/or expansion of the old is needed (cf. Lu & Ahrens, 2008). The building narrative draws on metaphors from the house and building domains, such as ‘blueprints’, ‘foundation’, ‘structure’, ‘architects’, ‘cornerstones’, and ‘pillars’. The house metaphor has a long history, having been used in different ways in various societies over time. As noted by Paul Chilton and Mikhail Ilyin (1993:8), ‘the metaphor has profound linguistic–cultural roots. In many parts of the world a traditional house schema was, and sometimes still is, a cosmological metaphor’. Building metaphors are frequently used in political discourse (e.g., Chilton & Ilyin, 1993; Koteyko & Ryazanova-Clarke, 2009; Lu & Ahrens, 2008; Musolff, 2000; Zinken, 2003). For example, Andrew Goatly (2011) demonstrated how ‘a society is a building’ is a common root analogy in the English

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language. In English and many other languages, it is commonplace to compare institutions to buildings, using the terminology of ‘architecture’ and ‘structure’ (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). Policy discourse about Europe and the EU has frequently drawn on building metaphors, from Winston Churchill’s 1950 advocacy of ‘setting up a European army as a message “from the house of Europe to the whole world”’ (Musolff, 2000:221) to Gorbachev’s notion of a ‘common European house’ (Chilton & Ilyin, 1993:7) in the 1980s and public discourse on the EU in the 1990s, crediting politicians as ‘architects’ of the evolution of European political and economic co-operation, portraying political plans for the European Union as ‘blueprints’ and describing diplomatic relations as the European Union’s ‘cornerstones’ (Musolff, 2000). A media article entitled ‘UNESCO report rethinks education for the 21st Century’ (Bloomberg, 2015) illustrates the use of building metaphors in the societal transformation discourse. In connection with its launch, the article summarises the UNESCO report Rethinking Education: ‘Rethinking Education’ provides a blueprint of the type of education needed for the 21st century, with a focus on respect for life and human dignity, social justice, and a shared responsibility for a sustainable future . . . Inspired by the 1996 publication, Learning: The treasure within, also known as the ‘Delors report’, ‘Rethinking Education’ is drawn from its four pillars of education: learning to know; learning to do; learning to live together, learning to live with others; and learning to be . . . ‘I am convinced we need to think big again today about education’, ‘for these are turbulent times’, stresses the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in the report’s foreword. ‘The world is changing – education must also change’. She also notes that societies everywhere are undergoing deep societal transformation, calling for new forms of education to foster the competencies that societies and economies need, today and tomorrow. A quality basic education is the necessary foundation for learning throughout life in a complex and rapidly changing world, she adds, acknowledging that access is not enough . . . Viewing education as ‘an essential common good’ and ‘key to the global integrated framework of sustainable development goals’, Bokova insists that there is ‘no more powerful transformative force than education’ to promote human rights and dignity, eradicate poverty and deepen sustainability, build a better future for all, founded on equal rights and social justice, respect for cultural diversity, and international solidarity and shared responsibility. (Bloomberg, 2015, emphasis added)

Focusing on the role of education in sustainable futures, the article describes how education needs to be carefully and intentionally changed according to a ‘blueprint’ such as the Rethinking Education report. The stale metaphor ‘founded’ signals what is seen as most essential for the ‘better future for all’ to come about – the very foundation on which the building will rest – namely, ‘equal rights and social justice, respect for cultural diversity, and international solidarity and shared responsibility’. However, the ‘better future’ cannot be built without ‘quality education’, which is at

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the same time presented as another ‘necessary foundation’ of a society already characterised by ‘deep societal transformation’ and as a ‘powerful transformative force’ in and of itself. ‘Buildings stand as long as their walls are intact. When these “links” between the floors break, the building crashes down’, Jörg Zinken (2003:517) commented in a paper on metaphors in political discourse. In the quotation, the inter-floor ‘links’ that hold up the building are the four pillars of education. Several scholars note that building metaphors tend to have positive connotations, as they accentuate ‘progress towards long-term social goals’ (Charteris-Black, 2004:71), ‘co-ordinated human effort’, and ‘collective effort, which makes building metaphors an effective device for emphasizing the consolidation of society in pursuit of a common goal’ (Koteyko & Ryazanova-Clarke, 2009:120). This can be illustrated by a quotation from paragraph 50 in the 2030 Agenda, which draws on the building metaphor to encourage current generations to take measures to ‘build a better future for all people, including the millions who have been denied the chance to lead decent, dignified and rewarding lives and to achieve their full human potential’. Along similar lines, Papua New Guinea’s INDC (UNFCCC, 2015x) illustrates a line of reasoning in which transformations of mindsets and attitudes are envisioned as means to achieve an ‘educated, healthy and prosperous society’, where the wider community will be involved as builders in a collective effort, constructing a new strategy for the future, accentuated in its strategic development vision for 2050: In October 2009, the Government launched a 40 year development strategy: PNG Vision 2050. The intention is to transform the nation’s mind-set and attitude and align the people, institutions and systems into [an] educated, healthy and prosperous society. The vision stresses the importance of engaging the community into the process of building a strategy for sustainable development for all. (UNFCCC, 2015x, emphasis added)

This passage illustrates the forward-looking version of the building narrative, in which something new is being built. In Papua New Guinea’s INDC, the government can be seen as the architect behind the vision for 2050, whereas the country’s citizens are simultaneously the builders and the building’s future inhabitants. Engaging communities in building the sustainable development strategy is highlighted as a means to ensure that this strategy eventually is ‘for all’. The building narrative also comes across in the high-level panel report A New Global Partnership (UN, 2013a; see Section 4.3), but here it emerges in its second version, integrating future-oriented and retrospective views and using the building metaphor to emphasise how the post-2015 agenda is situated in the context of and expands on previous UN meetings and the MDGs.

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In a sense, A New Global Partnership is a journey narrative, relating the actual travels made by the high-level panel to various sites around the world, where conversations with a number of stakeholders generated material for the topics addressed in the report. From New York to London to Monrovia to Bali, the group engaged in conversations with citizens, indigenous communities, civil society organisations, political leaders, business leaders, and experts. As discussed in Chapter 4, these journeys and meetings resulted in a report to the UN secretary general that stressed the need for ‘five big transformative shifts’ to achieve sustainable development, and that formed an important background to the UN Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. In line with their guidelines from the then UN secretary general, the high-level panel emphasised that the post-2015 agenda for sustainable development should not discard previous efforts, and the group strove to ‘demonstrate how a simple clear agenda building on the MDGs and the Rio+20 process might be elaborated’ (UN, 2013a:i, emphasis added). The 2030 Agenda reinforces the reconstruction variant of the building narrative, emphasising that the new agenda is not a completely new endeavour, but one that ‘builds on’ the ‘foundation’ laid out in previous UN summits and in the MDGs – only, this time, the new agenda will be bigger, more ambitious and more encompassing: 11. We reaffirm the outcomes of all major United Nations conferences and summits which have laid a solid foundation for sustainable development and have helped to shape the new Agenda. 16. . . . The new Agenda builds on the Millennium Development Goals and seeks to complete what they did not achieve, particularly in reaching the most vulnerable. (UN General Assembly, 2015)

The building narrative presupposes considerable agency on the part of a multitude of societal actors. Building, reconstructing, or renovating a house takes planning, skill, effort, and determination. It also presupposes collaboration between professionals with different skills, as well as insight into the needs, preferences, and priorities of the future users or inhabitants of the building. As we have seen, the building narrative, and the metaphors it rests on, can be used to inspire audiences to engage in joint efforts to achieve societal goals. Construction metaphors imply creativity among the actors involved in designing and building societies, institutions, policies, and so on. They also imply that actors need to share a vision of the end state of the construction process – that is, designing and building sustainable societies – for blueprints to be agreed on and construction work to be managed and conducted. Like the journey narrative, the building narrative has also been criticised for downplaying previous achievements and existing capacities. In particular, this

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criticism has been strongly voiced in the area of capacity development, where the notion of ‘capacity building’ is increasingly contested. The OECD (2006:12) report The Challenge of Capacity Development: Working towards Good Practice advocated a shift from the capacity-building to the capacity-development concept, stating that ‘the “building” metaphor suggests a process starting with a plain surface and involving the step-by-step erection of a new structure, based on a preconceived design’. This quotation was picked up by Walters (2007) and Hagelsteen and Becker (2013) in arguing for the recognition and encouragement of existing capacities among individuals and organisations in capacity-building activities, such as disaster risk reduction. However, as seen from our analysis, the building narrative does not inherently neglect previous achievements; rather, the way it is used in our data is often in the context of building on the basis of earlier transformation efforts. As such, it is clearly aligned with the amalgamation framing of transformations, rather than the collapse framing. It is not the destruction of old buildings in order to raise new structures that is envisioned, but building on existing foundations. 6.3 Transformation as a War In the policy documents – particularly the background documents to the INDCs and the UN 2030 Agenda – and some of the media texts, we found a number of metaphors and concepts related to a narrative that positions sustainability transformations as a war. Drawing on metaphors such as ‘eradicate’, ‘combat’, ‘fight’, ‘frontline’, ‘mobilise’, ‘mission’, ‘struggle’, and ‘plunder’, the war narrative positions humankind as threatened by powerful enemies such as poverty, inequality, hunger, terrorism, organised crime, forced labour, human trafficking, and climate change – enemies to be combatted and overcome. The war narrative has reoccurred in the development politics since the early post-war years. For example, the former US president Lyndon B. Johnson declared ‘war on poverty’ in the 1960s (Duggan, 2003, cited in Cohen, 2011:200), So, not surprisingly, it also features in environmental and the broader sustainability discourses (Cohen, 2011; Doulton & Brown, 2009; Nerlich & Jaspal, 2012; Princen, 2010; Romaine, 1996). War metaphors come across, for example, in expressions such as the ‘war against climate change’, proclaimed by many political leaders, scientists, and heads of state (Cohen, 2011), including former US president Bill Clinton (Princen, 2010) and Queen Elizabeth II, who, in a 2004 statement, beseeched the USA to ‘join in “war against global warming”’ (Nixon, 2004, cited in Cohen, 2011:205). Moreover, the full title of the 2015 report of the high-level panel of eminent persons on the post-

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2015 development agenda is: A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development (UN, 2013a). The war narrative accentuates features such as ‘strategies, winners, losers, and risks’ (Romaine, 1996:178). It presumes an enemy, ‘a foe to be vanquished, an attacker to be deterred’ (Princen, 2010:63). For example, in the 2030 Agenda, in which war metaphors recur, the enemies to be ‘combatted’, ‘eradicated’, or ‘fought against’ include poverty, hunger, inequality, climate change, desertification, diseases, terrorism, organised crime, forced labour, and human trafficking. These enemies had been confronted before, for example, through the MDGs, but with only partial success. In the words of the New Global Partnership report: ‘As world leaders agreed at Rio in 2012, new goals and targets need to be grounded in respect for universal human rights, and finish the job that the MDGs started. Central to this is eradicating extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030’ (UN, 2013a:iii, emphasis in original). As highlighted in the extract from the 2030 Agenda cited at the beginning of this chapter, we see that in transforming the world by 2030, the signatory states take on the task of finally winning the war by ‘eradicating poverty’, ‘ending hunger’, ‘combating inequalities’, ‘protecting human rights’, and ‘ensuring the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources’. In the New Global Partnership report, the high-level panel expands on what is needed from the international community in the war against the unprecedented threats of climate change and environmental degradation, and in aspiring to eradicate poverty once and for all: For twenty years, the international community has aspired to integrate the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability, but no country has yet achieved this. We must act now to halt the alarming pace of climate change and environmental degradation, which pose unprecedented threats to humanity. We must bring about more social inclusion. This is a universal challenge, for every country and every person on earth. This will require structural change, with new solutions, and will offer new opportunities. Developed countries have a special role to play, fostering new technologies and making the fastest progress in reducing unsustainable consumption. Many of the world’s largest companies are already leading this transformation to a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. Only by mobilizing social, economic and environmental action together can we eradicate poverty irreversibly and meet the aspirations of eight billion people in 2030. (UN, 2013a:iv, emphasis added)

Unlike the journey and building narratives, the war narrative departs from a catastrophe framing. It is threats in the forms of, for example, poverty, environmental hazards, and food insecurity that must be confronted. It is interesting to note that, when the quotation shifts away from the dangers to emphasising the opportunities, the journey narrative metaphors ‘progress’ and ‘leading’ are employed, as

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are the metaphors related to service (‘offer’) or the bringing up of children (‘fostering’). To win the war, mobilisation is needed. The quotation from the report A New Global Partnership highlights the need for the mobilisation of ‘social, economic and environmental action together’. The metaphor ‘mobilise’ is more specifically used in the 2030 Agenda in connection with mobilising financial resources (15a, 15b, 17.3, 17.16), knowledge, expertise, and technology (17.16) ‘to overcome shared challenges and identify new and emerging issues’ (73), and, with mobilising, ‘the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people’ (preamble). The mobilisation metaphor, popular among climate activists, accentuates the need to assemble actors and means for a common cause. The message does not primarily concern combatting an enemy, but rather suggests that, in times of war, societies can endure great suffering, build citizen solidarity, emphasise moral stances, and make people willing to subordinate their interest to a common goal (Anshelm & Hultman, 2015). Along similar lines, Cohen (2011) suggests that war metaphors can be useful in communicating the gravity of a situation, urging actors to unite, and arguing for the allocation of financial means, as well as motivating long-term political commitment and emphasising that the public must be prepared to make sacrifices for the common good. However, as the war narrative draws on a conflict frame, it has also been argued that it ‘tends to mask options like conciliation or compromise’ (Carew & Mitchell, 2006:225). The war narrative therefore stands in stark contrast to the co-creation narrative to which we will turn next. 6.4 Transformation as Co-creation The transformation as co-creation narrative is a story about how societal transformations towards sustainability occur through collaboration with and the engagement and inclusion of a wide variety of state and non-state actors, experts, and laypeople, co-creating a sustainable future through science, policy, and everyday action. The co-creation narrative is signalled by key words and metaphors such as ‘include’, ‘engage’, ‘align’, ‘link’, ‘transparent’, ‘bottom-up’, ‘grassroots’, ‘participation’, and ‘partnership’. An example of the co-creation narrative is found in the following excerpt from the report A New Global Partnership (UN, 2013a:v, emphasis added), which stresses the need for co-operation, solidarity, and the involvement of multiple actors in societal transformations:

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Perhaps the most important transformative shift is towards a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual accountability that must underpin the post-2015 agenda. A new partnership should be based on a common understanding of our shared humanity, underpinning mutual respect and mutual benefit in a shrinking world. This partnership should involve governments but also include others: people living in poverty, those with disabilities, women, civil society and indigenous and local communities, traditionally marginalised groups, multilateral institutions, local and national government, the business community, academia and private philanthropy. Each priority area identified in the post-2015 agenda should be supported by dynamic partnerships . . . And since this partnership is built on principles of common humanity and mutual respect, it must also have a new spirit and be completely transparent. Everyone involved must be fully accountable.

Drawing on stale metaphors such as ‘involve’ and ‘include’ and key words such as ‘mutual’, ‘common’, and ‘shared’, this extract emphasises the role of the partnership between state and non-state actors, including groups of citizens who have been ‘traditionally marginalised’ in high politics. For this to be possible, the high-level panel distinguishes between themselves as a group and the ‘grassroots’. Summarising what they learnt from their meetings and dialogues with people around the world while preparing the report, the high-level panel drew on the metaphorical notion of ‘understanding the world through their eyes’: We realized that the next development agenda must build on the real experiences, stories, ideas and solutions of people at the grassroots, and that we, as a Panel, must do our best to understand the world through their eyes and reflect on the issues that would make a difference to their lives. (UN, 2013a:1, emphasis added)

In a similar vein, several of our focus group participants argued for the importance of combining ‘bottom-up engagement’ with ‘working together’ at all levels of society. For example, in the Boulder focus groups, participants told stories of the impacts of ‘grassroots’ actors on policymakers when pushing for larger-scale societal change. The idea of working together across all levels of society is recurrent in the co-construction narrative. An example of this notion comes from Fiji, from an urban focus group of university students in which participants emphasised the need to work in a structured way towards engaging multiple societal actors in achieving sustainability goals: So we should work together, I think government, like NGOs, those who are really there . . . the health department, the environment department. They should put up workshops down to community level. Most of them are not aware of these things, so if they do workshops with posters and everything . . . they can educate and they can help. Raise awareness from grassroots level, then they can help each other so when they are educated they can build on it . . . think of our younger generation, work together. (Fiji focus group 3)

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Furthermore, the co-creation narrative emphasises the role of directional drivers such as empathy, dialogue, common visions, values, and mindsets in societal transformations. A slightly different version of the co-creation narrative comes across in research policy discussions of societal transformations towards sustainability, for example, in the large-scale international research platform Future Earth, launched in 2012 with the aim of ‘providing the knowledge and support to accelerate transformations to a sustainable world’ (Future Earth, 2016). In this version of the co-creation narrative, the main focus is on knowledge production and interactions between academia and stakeholders. The 2025 vision of Future Earth ‘is for people to thrive in a sustainable and equitable world. This requires contributions from a new type of science that links disciplines, knowledge systems and societal partners to support a more agile global innovation system’ (Future Earth, 2014:1, emphasis added). In other words, the knowledge required for societal transformation towards sustainability should be produced through co-creation between academia and stakeholders – by doing ‘science together with society’ (Mauser et al., 2013:428). The co-creation of knowledge – or co-production as it is interchangeably labelled – encompasses co-design of the research agenda, co-production of knowledge, and co-dissemination of the results (Mauser et al., 2013). Sandra van der Hel (2016) argued that the co-production approach of Future Earth rests on three logics: first, the logic of accountability, in which scientists design their research with stakeholder perspectives and societal usefulness in mind, fulfilling their part of a social contract in which society provides science with resources in return for useful results; second, the logic of impact, in which science is seen as gaining legitimacy through stakeholder engagement throughout the research process, ultimately resulting in increased prospects for science to be used for desired social change; and, third, the importance of social norms for publicly legitimate actions and the recognition that upholding those norms is a condition for successfully addressing sustainability challenges. The argument goes that researchers in sustainability sciences must incorporate meaning-making, norms, and values in their knowledge production by allowing for inclusive discussion and community engagement (van der Hel, 2016). As co-production, deliberative democracy, and co-creation have become celebrated modes of governance and research practice, critics have noted the risk of potentially unequal procedural access to deliberative processes. Whereas co-creation approaches largely rest on consensus-oriented views of change, co-creation could potentially be Janus faced, actually involving a select few in deliberative practices – out of habit, for efficiency, or to favour some voices over others – while others are effectively excluded. This approach risks marginalising the most vulnerable, such as women, disabled people, the poor, or the illiterate.

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Parkinson (2003:181) noted that ‘deliberative decisions appear to be illegitimate for those left outside the forum, while bringing more than a few in would quickly turn the event into speech-making, not deliberation’. Anticipating this risk, theorists suggest that deliberative processes can be made more inclusive, but doing so requires due attention to process and procedural justice, reflecting the full range of distributed forms of engagement (Beck, 2019), as well as co-creator roles and how they represent different geographical sites, capabilities, interest, and positions in societal hierarchies (André et al., 2012; Filipe et al., 2017; Sovacool & Linnér, 2015). In some of our case study areas, there is the awareness and readiness needed in order to deal with the procedural challenges of co-creation. In both our Fiji and Cabo Verde focus groups, local co-organisers drew attention to the importance of finding ways to include, for instance, illiterate participants or participants from remote areas. However, as the narrative goes, these concerns seem to be at too detailed a level. The narrative emphasises the need for co-creation, but does not specify it in detail. If so, it would have been a programmatic declaration rather than a structured story about how and why transformations can be achieved. The narrative simply points the way; policies and measures as well as practices should fill in the details. 6.5 Transformation as Recuperation The recuperation narrative articulates transformation as restoring or healing the planet or society. In some focus groups, this was conveyed as a desire to regain something that was lost, such as the old ways of living in the urban groups in Fiji and the previous social inclusiveness of traditional Chinese society in the Guangzhou focus groups. Calling for new indicators of well-being, Ecuador’s National Plan of Good Living 2013–2017, invoked a combination of the co-creation and recuperative narratives, with holistic citizenry, in which people are active participants in their own transformation and are able to recuperate their human values . . . Therefore, the Ecuadorian Government’s strategy for transformation aims to recover the main capacities of State action (leadership, planning, regulation and supervision) in order to implement an efficient, decentralized, participatory management model. (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:24, emphasis added)

In a call for ‘Another Scotland, another world: a declaration of radical intent’, the Scottish magazine Ekklesia, with the tag-line ‘transforming politics and beliefs’, observed ‘a renewal of faith, hope and commitment to societal transformation.

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Hearteningly, the political was also recognised as personal, too. For society to change, people need to change too’ (Barrow, 2013). In addition to value-focused examples of recuperation, the narrative can also be found in city planning. For example, India seeks to realise its Paris Agreement objectives through the government’s ‘schemes for transformation and rejuvenation of urban areas’ (UNFCCC, 2015ah:13). Metaphors similar to recuperation but with different connotations are the recreation and rebirth metaphors, which, while not being central to environmental discourse, still have persisted from former nuclear debates to today’s climate discourse (Lilley et al., 2012; Linnér, 2003; Rosenthal, 1991; Weart, 1988). These metaphors stems from a particular version of apocalyptic thinking that does not anticipate final doom, but rather sees catastrophe as ushering in a new beginning. Apocalyptic thinking often contains a notion of catastrophe as providing the impetus for recreation. There is a millennial aspect to such thinking: ‘Paradise shall be reopened . . . No, or little, hope might be given to this present civilization but out of the catastrophe something new shall sprout’ (Linnér, 2003:100). In his analysis of apocalyptic thinking in twentieth-century Germany, historian of literature Klaus Vondung (1988) argued that the fundamental characteristic of these visions of collapse is the transformation of doom to utopia. The old culture is so bankrupt and flawed that it evidently has to collapse; however, out of this catastrophe, a new creation, a new culture, will arise. As the rebirth metaphor recurs in some environmental discourse, we could anticipate that the collapse element of transformation, as discussed in Chapter 3, would surface somewhere in our extensive data sets. However, none of the texts we examined signalled that collapse would be a necessary feature of transformation. Rather than the rebirth or recreation of a wasteland, it is healing what is suffering but not dead, or mending what is broken but not destroyed that is emphasised. In line with Butzer and Endfield’s (2012) critique (see Chapter 3), in the recuperation narrative it is not collapse that is the prerequisite for transformation, but rather restoration. In addition, the recuperation narrative is expressed through metaphors also found in the journey narrative (e.g., returning to traditional ways) or the building narrative. The latter is exemplified by ‘[l]egislature as instrument of social change’ in The Guardian Nigeria (Ihedioha, 2015), which explains societal transformation as underpinned by social change that improves living conditions in society, which ‘implies reconstruction or re-engineering’. Such combinations of metaphors are not uncommon in transformation storytelling, constituting a narrative in themselves: transformation through different leverage mechanisms. Take, for example, Zimbabwe’s Agenda for Sustainable Socioeconomic Transformation, which claims to be ‘crafted to achieve sustainable

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development and social equity anchored on indigenization, empowerment and employment creation which will be largely propelled by the judicious exploitation of the country’s abundant human and natural resources’ (UNFCCC, 2015ad:1). Propelling a ship while it is anchored would not normally constitute good seamanship, but, as a narrative of transformation, it conveys a sense of a society not abandoning fundamental values while seeking to reach new socio-economic goals through exploiting resources. 6.6 Implications for Sustainability Transformations When making sense of environmental and social change, language is key in giving shape to global issues and mediating political and social interests. The concepts we encounter and use structure how we construe our existence, surroundings, and relationships. Harré et al. (1999:4) pointedly describe language ‘as the most significant and dominant “psychological tool” in the business of human meaningmaking’. For this meaning-making process, metaphors are fundamental. In the words of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980:3) ‘the way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor’. We have to be conscious that the connotations in the different metaphors underpinning the narratives differ in various cultural contexts. For example, the house as a metaphor has different connotations in Fiji and in Boulder. As is the case for any metaphor, it is important to keep in mind that people’s views of houses are shaped by different culturally informed understandings of their characteristics: ‘Houses are conceptualized prototypically and stereotypically in different ways from culture to culture: there are variations as to size, shape, layout, surrounding space, surrounding barriers, rules about coming and going, visiting and receiving, cohabiting, and so forth’ (Chilton & Ilyin, 1993:13). While particular metaphors may not have the same connotations across cultures and social groups, the difference between journey, building, war, co-creation, and recuperation nonetheless signals five overarching structures in sense-making. So, rather than seeking to unravel individual interpretations of transformations, we treat the five narratives as different frameworks that contribute to shaping sense-making. Narratives can have several functions. First, as they abridge or simplify a chain of events or relationships linking identified problems, envisioned goals, and recommended actions or designated actors, they can obscure more complex realities and challenges. However, such narration can also have an opposite, illuminating effect: a schematic story, particularly through the use of analogies and metaphors, can impose logic, order, and contours on abstract or entangled

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phenomena. This can make them into helpful sense-making tools with which to attain new awareness of or insight into how to address societal challenges. Second, narratives provide elasticity in making sense of new phenomena. The multiple narratives in the present case do not simply indicate five distinct ways to make sense of transformations. Rather, they are, as narratives, simplifications of an array of ways to make sense of transformations. In practice, the narratives are often combined when describing transformations. The fact that multiple narratives often appear in a single document indicates that we may need several mental models to orient ourselves around a novel or complex phenomenon. Similarly, in studying the use of sustainability metaphors in environmental engineering education, Anna L. Carew and Cynthia A. Mitchell (2006) concluded that these metaphors each provided relevant perspectives on sustainability, but none of them conveyed a definitive image of what sustainability may entail. There is not a definite conceptualisation of sustainability. We need multiple meaning-making resources to make sense of a phenomenon that is so complex, with so many different aspects. We only have to think of the seventeen SDGs and 169 targets which is just a first attempt to capture the varied understandings and priorities across the globe. Correspondingly, the use of multiple transformation narratives does not necessarily reflect opposing ideas of how to transform; rather, this diversity can serve as an asset that provides a palette of complementary transformation models addressing different aspects of transformation, providing flexibility to tailor calls for transformation to particular sustainability challenges in different contexts over time. Third, leading to the next chapter on transformation governance, the examined transformation narratives with their integral metaphors convey distinct policy implications. For example, the transformation as co-creation narrative stands in contrast to the conflict-oriented war narrative, which presupposes top-down management, clear chains of command, and strong measures to address urgent threats. In contrast, recuperation points to means for healing and restoration. Like the building narrative, transformation as co-creation is a story about collaboration and inclusion. Building and co-creation are creative processes. The co-creation narrative differs from the building narrative, however, in emphasising bottom-up, often uncoordinated, and spontaneous actions. Furthermore, narratives can have important roles in identifying avenues for international co-operation on sustainability transformation. The unconsidered employment of transformation narratives can hamper international collaboration. Romaine (1996:185) pointed out that some metaphors could obstruct agreement and understanding in international negotiations, as parties may employ similar metaphors, for example, war metaphors, with consensus neither on the goal of the ‘war on the environment’ nor on who should be seen as enemies and victims.

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Chilton and Ilyin (1993:10) emphasised that metaphors can provide tools for understanding and mutually reconsidering existing policies. Metaphors may facilitate diplomatic endeavours and interpersonal contacts by leaving space for negotiation: ‘A new metaphor, or new use of a metaphor, can break up the rigid conceptual frames of an existing political order, introducing new options and stimulating political thought and imagination.’ When critically examining the use of linguistic resources, we risk discussing only the potential intended or unintended connotations. Yet, as metaphors, the narratives can clearly help us attain new insights into, perceive new meaning in, and think anew about societal challenges. To critically scrutinise the narratives does not mean that they should be avoided, but rather serves to remind us that they comprise living metaphors. It is when we take analogies too far, when they become too literal, or we use them to avoid clarity or to close dialogues that they become problematic. Finally, the fact that the narratives often mixed in transformations proposals can actually be helpful, in that it helps us to internalise different aspects and open up for new perspectives on transformations. Most importantly, systems theory shows that our ways to acquire knowledge struggle to grasp the intricate relationships of socioecological system changes over time. Narratives in policy documents, everyday conversations, or art, thoughtfully reflected upon, can help us to make sense of these relationships. They are also indispensable for our ability to think anew. We will return to these uses of transformation narratives in our final chapter after discussing ideas on how to govern transformations, where indeed narratives also can play an important role.

Part III Manoeuvring in a Multi-transformational World

7 Governing Transformations

7.1 Guiding Change How large-scale transformations can be triggered and steered has concerned politicians, activists, and scholars at least since the nineteenth century, as we saw in Chapter 3. As the realisation has grown that incremental change will not suffice to cope with surging energy demand, rapid urbanisation, climate change, biodiversity losses, and other unprecedented global environmental changes, interest has risen in how governance can help advance transformations to sustainability. Whereas Chapter 4 illustrated how scholars and policymakers have struggled to find effective governance structures for guiding transformation, the analysis of core narratives in Chapter 6 demonstrated how different metaphorical conceptions of transformation accentuate particular goals and means for transformative change. The previous chapter also illustrated how sense-making on sustainability transformation occurs in the midst of multiple, sometimes overlapping and sometimes contradictory, metaphors and narratives. In this chapter, we explore the broad and diverse literature on transformation governance. By governance we refer to processes whereby governments and other power-wielding bodies, such as organisations, businesses and socio-political groups, seek to steer societal processes through formal laws, procedures, resources, norms, and language that define how people make decisions, exercise power, prescribe responsibility, and command accountability (e.g., Bevir, 2013; Patterson et al., 2017). So, even if governance often is associated with public policy, also in the field of transformation, it goes well beyond that to include various roles of non-state actors. We organise insights from a reading of how the transformation governance literature makes sense of steering, managing, or acting on transformations around three key questions: (1) What type of transformation is being governed? (2) What 147

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factors enable and restrict transformation? (3) What roles do different actors play in the governance of transformations? Before digging into these questions, however, we need to take a step back and reflect upon to what extent, if at all, societal transformations can be governed: Can transformations be instigated and steered, or only reacted to? We analytically distinguish between emergent and deliberate transformations, although most analysts agree that transformation processes combine both types. Some processes emerge outside our control, whereas, in other instances, governance efforts can influence emergent transformations (Feola, 2015). The European Commission’s analysis of a new long-term climate strategy for 2050 under negotiation in 2019 illustrates that politicians and planners need to consider how emergent transformations affect deliberate actions: Deep decarbonisation will not be the only transformative trend that will affect the EU and global economy over the coming decades. For example, the transformation will take place in a context of an ageing EU population and evolving globalisation as well as some effects of climate change (much more moderate though if decarbonisation objectives are achieved). (European Commission, 2018:217)

As the effects of carbon dioxide emissions work on a longer time scale than just a few decades, the quotation also illustrates how protracted transformation processes interact with more rapid ones. Although transformations cannot be precisely managed, governance can set conditions that allow them to take certain paths (WBGU, 2011). This leads us to the need to consider governance for and governance of transformations (Table 7.1). Governance for transformations seeks to create conditions fostering or triggering large-scale systematic changes within specific sectors, larger socio–technical– ecological systems, or entire cultures. Governance of transformations, in contrast, seeks to guide or control ongoing transformations, whether deliberate, such as organising transformative learning (e.g., Crowell & Reid-Marr, 2013), or contingent, such as Cabo Verde seeking to avoid the negative effects of global economic developments and exploit opportunities for the islands. In the governance of transformations, we find anticipatory as well as reactive approaches (Table 7.1). For instance, in the context of transformation efforts in climate change adaptation, Robert W. Kates et al. (2012), distinguished between transformative efforts made in response to the experienced impacts of environmental change and those that prepare societies before such impacts. Climate change will transform our societies one way or another, even if we abstain from any mitigation or adaption efforts. Reactive transformations refer to those actions intended to effect major system changes as a way to cope with the effects, ongoing, of emergent transformation. Anticipatory transformations are consequently efforts

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Table 7.1 Key distinctions in the literature on governing transformations. Concept

Definition

Governance for transformations

Seeks to create conditions fostering or triggering large-scale non-linear systematic changes within specific sectors, larger socio–technical–ecological systems, or entire cultures. Seeks to guide or control ongoing transformations.

Governance of transformations Anticipatory transformations Reactive transformations Practical sphere of transformation Political sphere of transformation

Efforts made to change the capacity of societies to exploit opportunities or be resilient in the face of environmental and societal disruptions. Actions intended to effect major non-linear system changes as a way to cope with the effects of emergent transformation. Concrete actions and applied innovations in technology and management strategies. Addresses institutional aspects, such as rules, standards, regulations, and agreements as well as power struggles, collective action problems, and conflicting interests. Sense-making processes, world views, values, and ideologies.

Personal sphere of transformation Mega-transformations Transformation of entire civilisations or societies. Particular transformations Transformation of particular segments of a civilisation, or of particular sectors. Abrupt transformations Sudden, sometimes disruptive, systemic changes. Protracted transformations Gradual, evolving non-linear systemic change. Quantum leap approach Sudden and abrupt changes in which a new politics appears as ‘mutations’ breaking with a steady progress of current governance practices. Emergent approach An evolutionary change that usually relies on conceptual breakthroughs that recombine elements of familiar policies. Convergent approach Familiar initiatives recast in such a way that they produce sudden changes in particular segments of society. Gradualist approach Piecemeal targeted governance approach. Existing initiatives are combined or repackaged to achieve progress towards a goal targeting a specific issue or segment of society. Oscillating transformation Efforts intended to be transformative, but which, because of rebound effects, do not over time significantly depart from the status quo.

made to change the capacity of societies to exploit opportunities or be resilient in the face of environmental and societal changes. One such example is again Cabo Verde’s strategy to anticipate the ongoing emergence of the transformation of the global political economy, for instance, by raising the level of education or diversifying the economy, to become more resilient as a nation.

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The five core narratives of transformation discussed in Chapter 6 – transformation as a journey, a building process, a war, co-creation, and recuperation – all presuppose some form of deliberate transformation, assuming that at least some degree of governance is not only possible, but necessary. However, as seen from previous transformations, such as the great European transformation, the automobilisation of cities, and the abolition of slavery, societal transformations are complex processes involving interaction between cultural, social, technological, economic, and political processes. What aspects should be governed to push conditions towards the desired transformation can therefore be difficult to determine, and the literature is far from conclusive on this. As we will see in this chapter, many scholars have asked about what should be governed, how and by whom. Per Olsson et al. (2010) introduced the concept of ‘transformative capacity’, which is achieved by ‘understanding where you are, determining where to go, and devising ways to get there’ (Plummer, 2013:6), leading to two questions: What needs to be transformed? How should this transformation be accomplished? Similar questions were brought to the fore in the UNFCCC facilitative Talanoa dialogue in 2018, where story telling around the questions ‘where are we, where do we want to go, and how do we get there?’ guided the efforts to progress towards the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement and to facilitate the preparation of NDCs (UNFCCC, 2018). Throughout the many diverging visions of transformation in the previous chapters extends the basic realisation that things must change and the acknowledgement that we must identify how to make this change happen. In the words of James Patterson et al. (2017:2), ‘transformations towards sustainability are deeply and unavoidably political, and need to be recognised as such’. In this chapter, we will introduce a number of key concepts from the literature (Table 7.1) and explore a variety of positions. For instance, some analysts advocate the technological leverage of transformation, some economic incentives. Others identify a need for education or for shifts of mindsets. Still others advocate a combination of these approaches, or the fundamental restructuring of the economic world order. These positions partly mirror the historiography debates on what have spurred transformation, presented in Chapter 3, but with the distinction that they do not only seek to identify what is necessary to spur change of today’s societies, but also anticipate what will be needed in the future as transformations progress. 7.2 What Transformation Is Being Governed? The question of what transformation is being governed is surprisingly often absent in transformation and transition literature (Hjerpe et al., 2017; Rauschmayer et al., 2015; Turnheim et al., 2015), and the literature that addresses it represents a wide

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spectrum of targets. The transformation visions, policies, and measures presented in previous chapters range from mega-transformations to transformations targeting quite specific areas within society, from transformations that seek to alter the global capitalist system or bring about a new fossil-fuel-free industrial revolution to those targeting particular sectors, such as energy, education, or finance, or specific policy areas, such as solar energy or public transport (Table 7.1). In other words, the previous chapters have sketched a diverse landscape of various types of transformation endeavours. To analytically approach the question of what transformation is being governed, we need to understand the target system and the scale of particular interventions. We also need to think about the depth of transformation and to what extent it concerns the practical, political, and/or personal spheres (Table 7.1). Furthermore, we need to scrutinise the normative aspirations and the intended outcomes of transformations. In the following, we will take a deeper look at how the scholarly literature has addressed each of these areas. 7.2.1 Understanding the Target System Societal transformations can differ in terms of target system, scale, and the pace of change. To make sense of different types of transformations it is therefore helpful to return to the typology referred to in Chapter 3 (Figure 7.1 and Table 7.1). It draws on Durant and Diehl’s typology (1989) for analysis of agenda procedures for transforming US foreign policy arenas. It distinguishes between different types of change targeted by policy initiatives. We have found it to be a useful starting point for thinking about the different pathways by which policies and measures are expected to spur transformation. In the typology, the transformational goals lie along a continuum on the target system axis, extending from major to particular systems, or even parts of systems, with the policy alternatives ranging from those that directly target megatransformation to those that seek more specific changes within particular systems. On the time axis, we see actors ranging from those who seek sudden, abrupt change to those seeking protracted transformation (Table 7.1). Similarly, the proposed institutions, actors, policies, and measures range from those intended to promote gradual, evolutionary change to those intended to instigate sudden disruptive change. In the upper-left quadrant of the system and time axis we find the quantum approach. Here, Durant and Diehl (1989) place ‘mega policies’ in international and domestic politics, such as the Truman Doctrine or the New Deal in American politics that aimed for ‘quantum leap’ transformations. Using terminology from evolution science, they refer to a punctuated equilibrium in which a new politics does not evolve steadily, but rather emerges disruptively after opposition has reached a breaking point, and a ‘mutation’ occurs in the political system.

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Governing Transformations PACE Rapid

Convergent

Quantum leap (e.g., UN 2030 Agenda)

SYSTEM

(e.g., expansion of mega-cities, Energiewende in Germany)

Particular segments of a civilisation

Entire civilisation (e.g., globalisation)

(e.g., renewable energy sector)

Emergent

Gradual

Protracted

Figure 7.1 A schematic typology of societal transformations. The y-axis indicates the pace of transformations and the x-axis the scale of the transformed systems.

In the lower-left quadrant, the emergent approach signifies an evolutionary change that usually relies on rapid conceptual breakthroughs that recombine elements of familiar policies that produce qualitatively novel outcomes in terms of social organisation and world views. The authors cite the example of the agricultural practices evolving since the 1940s of developing new crop varieties dependent on new irrigation, fertilisers and pesticide practices, and large-scale farming, which is often referred to as the Green Revolution. These optimally combined familiar agricultural policies and practices. It built on long experience of agricultural best practices and policies to enhance crop development and spur industrialtype agricultural production. Yet, it was conceived, overall, as a profoundly novel initiative to transform agriculture in many countries, particularly in the Global South (Pielke & Linnér, 2019). The upper-right quadrant – the convergent approach – contains familiar initiatives recast in such a way that they produce sudden changes in particular segments of society. According to Durant and Diehl (1989), the convergent approach governance initiatives can occur when social, economic, or ideational contexts change,

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making previously debated, neglected, or dismissed options acceptable to more actors. The lower-right quadrant – the gradualist approach – contains piecemeal targeted governance approaches, in which familiar initiatives are combined or repackaged to achieve progress towards a goal targeting a specific issue or segment of society. The four quadrants represent a stylised conceptualisation of different policy approaches to instigating transformational change that can be helpful to sort out what type of transformations that authors, policymakers and other actors talk about. If we apply this typology to sustainability transformation governance, we find proposals along the whole spectrum. For example, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber et al. (2010) made the case that the environmental threats facing humanity require quantum leap transformational change across the board in modernity – in technology, energy, politics, and lifestyles. It is a task that poses unprecedented governance challenges and calls for ‘mega policies’. Haley Stevenson (2015) reserved the concept of transformation for a particular discourse of economically sustainable development, distinguishing ‘radical transformationism’ from ‘cooperative reformism’ and ‘statist progressivism’. Radical transformationism here refers to a complete rejection of the capitalist system, whereas co-operative reformism rejects fundamental social and economic structural change. Statist progressivism is different: it rejects economic growth as an end in itself, but does not seek radical economic change, instead emphasising the fundamental role of the state in restructuring the economy towards citizen well-being. Kelly Levin et al. (2012) criticised the ‘quantum leap’ approach to transformation, which they described as a ‘one-shot “big bang”’ approach, seeing such policies as having unrealistic expectations in addressing ‘wicked’ problems, assuming a simplistic cause-and-effect linear process, or resulting in policy ‘shocks’ that reduce legitimacy and compliance. Instead, Levin et al. (2012) saw more promise in gradualist and emergent approaches. Similarly, Patterson et al. (2017) advocated achieving transformations by means of an incremental approach, referring to Karl Weick’s (1984) call for a ‘small wins’ strategy, which advocates ‘concrete, complete outcomes of moderate importance’ that can set in motion large-scale change. Weick (1984:43–44) explained the rationale of the strategy: ‘careful plotting of a series of wins to achieve a major change is impossible because conditions do not remain constant’. Patterson et al. (2017:4) argue for a governance strategy, where keeping the eye on the ambitious sustainable development strategies ‘helps to orient incremental efforts (such as policy change) within a broader narrative of transformative change’. Rejecting the dichotomy of radical versus incremental change, Maja Göpel (2016:7) introduced the concept of radical incremental transformation. She argued

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that ‘seeking to change a system too swiftly or too drastically is likely to create selfdefensive or destabilizing reactions’. The radical aspect lies in the goals, intentions, and strategies, whereas the leverage mechanism is incremental interventions, which have smaller impacts in the short term, but can ultimately set larger forces in motion to break with path dependencies and thus enable large-scale transformations. Similarly, concepts such as ‘directed incrementalism’ (Grunwald, 2007) and ‘progressive incrementalism’ (Levin et al., 2012) capture the notion that transformation is accomplished through small steps that cumulatively generate new path dependencies, or trigger tipping points ultimately supposed to take society towards systemic change. Likewise, Ian Scoones et al. (2015:5) suggested a ‘slow race’ transformation towards sustainability: we need to make haste to meet the pressing challenges of environmental change, but this needs to be done through carefully considered progression to allow for ‘inclusion, deliberation, democracy and justice’. In this view, transformation governance should target incremental change that in turn can be leveraged to spur transformation. One example is increased research, development, demonstration, and diffusion expenditure, which is hoped to accelerate the transformation of renewable energy systems. International organisations have argued that this funding must increase by four to six times to have a reasonable chance of introducing new low-carbon energy technologies on a scale that can keep global warming below 2°C while meeting increased energy demand (Linnér & Rayner, 2015). The idea is not to suddenly completely change the technology development system or to address energy consumption, but to induce change within the present system – in this respect, it is a convergent approach. In terms of scale, however, a four- to six-fold increase in research, development, demonstration, and diffusion funding would be a major change. So, if the system level is the energy system, this may be a significant step in an emergent approach. Yet, if the system level is the global political economy, this funding increase would represent a considerably smaller step – a gradualist approach to changing the system. Some would even argue that technology investments are not a means to achieve a transformation to sustainability, but rather perpetuate an unsustainable system (e.g., Hornborg, 2016) i.e. an oscillitating transformation. 7.2.2 Understanding the Depth of Transformation Governance actions can address either practical hands-on changes that can make a difference in environmental impact or human development, or targeting structural power or personal changes in values and perspectives (O’Brien, 2018; Gillard et al., 2016).

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Practical innovations in technology and management strategies are often associated with transformation. At present, most of the Agenda 2030 actions are of this sort (EEA, 2017), as are many other concrete actions typically associated with sustainable development, such as developing new renewable energy technologies, increasing adaptive capacity, restoring diversified ecosystems, and reducing red meat consumption. However, as the example of Italy’s VNRs in Chapter 4 shows, the SDGs are not by default restricted to the practical sphere. On the contrary, it is hard to see how the integrated seventeen goals of the UN 2030 Agenda can be achieved without being undergirded by political change. In fact, goal number 16 specifically, among other things, strives to ‘develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels’ (UN General Assembly, 2015:16.6), ‘ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels’ (16.7), and ‘broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance’ (16.8). The political sphere of governance involves institutional aspects such as rules, standards, regulations, and agreements; here, power struggles (e.g., contests between incumbents and challengers), collective action problems, and conflicting interests are most apparent. Simplistic policy assurances of win–win transformative outcomes often mask the difficult trade-offs between SDGs and actors’ preferences and circumstances. The power interests and political–economic aspects of transformations have received scant attention, despite recent growth of the literature (Meadowcroft, 2011; Scoones et al., 2015). Who defines the processes, and who stands to gain or lose from them? Acknowledging these trade-offs is fundamental for socially just transformations. The personal sphere of transformation captures sense-making processes, values, and ideologies. For example, Uganda’s Vision 2040 (Uganda, 2010) refers to attitudes and values as important drivers of the country’s socio-economic transformation. Donella Meadows (1999), who made a similar distinction between different spheres involved in changing a system, considered changing mindsets or – referring to Thomas Kuhn (1962) – shifting paradigms to be the most fundamental and ultimately most effective approach to changing a system. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) highlighted the interrelatedness of the political and personal spheres of transformation in arguing that democratically legitimate and effective climate and environmental policy relies on acceptance, legitimation, and participation. Thus, political mobilisation ‘must match perceptions of what a good and successful life is, and these again must be widely shared and attractive’ (WBGU, 2011:67). In the focus groups described in Chapter 5 and in Wibeck et al. (2019), the discussions among the Swedish participants tended to concentrate more on practical innovations, whereas responses in terms of personal stories and collective values were more apparent

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in the Fiji discussions, resonating with the emphasis on story telling in the tradition of Talanoa dialogues as a process for collective decision-making in Fiji and other Pacific countries. Regardless where the emphasis lies in these three spheres – personal, political, and practical – as leverages for transformation, and which may be considered to be the chicken and which is the egg, when we consider our empirical examples in this book as well as most of the governance literature on transformation, it is evident that all three spheres will be needed for a sustained society-wide transformation towards sustainability. 7.2.3 Intended Outcomes of Transformation What outcomes are intended to result from proposed policies and measures? By outcomes we mean the actions expected to be taken by the target populations, that is, actors such as the governments, companies, international organisations, and individuals the policy seeks to influence. Building on Durant and Diehl’s (1989) typology of procedures to transform US foreign policy agendas, Benjamin Cashore and Michael Howlett (2007) and Levin et al. (2012) distinguished between various effects of policies intended to change ‘business as usual’. For example, an energy transformation that leads to a radical shift in renewable energy technology deployment but, because of rebound effects, does not decrease GHG emissions would only be transformative in means, but not in relation to sustainability goals. We refer to this as oscillating transformation (Table 7.1), inspired by Cashore and Howlett (2007) and Levin et al. (2012) who use the terms ‘faux-paradigmatic’ or ‘oscillating-equilibrium’ to characterise change in which ‘significant departures from the status quo occur but then shift back just as quickly to their regular position’ (Cashore & Howlett, 2007:538). Another transformation trap would be unintended side effects, for example, if innovations in renewable energy technology lead to degraded land and worsened living conditions in mining districts or to a space race to extract rare-earth minerals. Correspondingly, energy technology innovation, for example, in solar panel technology, will be less transformational if it leads only to more energy production, without reducing GHG emissions and while putting new pressure on mineral extraction. In the words of Westley et al. (2011:762), ‘large-scale transformations in information technology, nano- and biotechnology, and new energy systems have the potential to significantly improve our lives; but if, in framing them, our globalized society fails to consider the capacity of the biosphere, there is a risk that unsustainable development pathways may be reinforced’. Even actors who aspire to the same transformation goal may disagree substantially as to the best way to achieve it, possibly even regarding one another’s

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initiatives as counterproductive. For example, Westley et al. (2011) argued that the ‘transition town’ movement, which seeks to build resilience to international shocks such as oil shortages, climate change, and economic crises (Transition US, 2013), exemplifies an innovation that stabilises a system rather than disrupting it: ‘While undoubtedly innovative, these initiatives are unlikely to stimulate the great transformation towards sustainability that we need to avoid pushing the earth system beyond planetary boundaries’ (Westley et al., 2011:768–769). The transition town movement more generally, however, is a broad and loosely organised social movement, and many would probably argue that it builds on another view of how radical system change is achieved. By drawing on creative thinking, composing new stories about how to organise societies, as well as providing examples worldwide, it may eventually inspire a new way to organise societies based on principles of respect for ecological limits, social justice, and subsidiarity (e.g., Transition Network, 2016). 7.3 What Factors Enable and Restrict Transformation? How does change come about? As we have already seen, some envision sudden, rapid, and profound change, while others advocate small steps or niche developments. Policies and measures can range from stand-alone efforts, intended to trigger an instantaneous shift towards transformation, to a series of efforts to incrementally accomplish transformation. For example, the media texts analysed in Chapters 4 and 6 highlighted governance factors, such as the ‘stable and continuous social reform efforts and decisions’ coupled with institutional change that guarantee the universality and equity of welfare policies (Kuhnle, 2015), judicial reform in Kenya as the prerequisite and ‘true engine of societal transformation’, and anti-corruption measures in Nigeria (This Day, 2015). Focus group examples cited in Chapter 5 included Fijian participants asking for government-led initiatives to organise participatory workshops engaging citizens in sustainability transformations, as well as discussions in Swedish focus groups about the need to reform education systems. As the sources cited in this chapter indicate, the policy interventions that could instigate transformational change and actively navigate processes of transformation to sustainability have attracted the interest of numerous researchers since at least the turn of the century. 7.3.1 Critical Conditions As mentioned, most of the governance literature sees a combination of several initiatives for transformation to be successful. Hardly any see one type of initiative

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as sufficient. Yet, different initiatives are viewed critical, even necessary, to either instigating or influencing transformation processes. For example, Brian Walker et al. (2004) speculated about the attributes necessary for transformability, referring to Joseph Stiglitz’s (2002) outline of the desired and undesired outcomes of the socio-economic transformations of the former Soviet Union and South East Asia. Stiglitz (2002), the former World Bank chief economist, disillusioned with the neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), emphasised the importance of a post-Washington consensus agenda in which a set of policies, economic regulations, social safety nets, and institutional developments should seek to avoid the undesired shocks of transformational processes. Drawing on the failures of the IMF to successfully restructure the Ugandan economy, Stiglitz (2002:76) concluded that ‘a fundamental criticism of the IMF/ Washington Consensus approach [is that] it does not acknowledge that development requires a transformation of society’, which includes tangible and fair advances in human development, for example, in social welfare, education, and health. In this view, transformation in one part of the economy, led to unsustainable transformation for society at large. A similar line of reasoning can be found in the African Development Bank’s (2011) assessment of the key success factors underlying Cabo Verde’s transformation from a low- to a middle-income country. Recognising that every country is a unique case, it argued that the Cabo Verde experience provides some valuable lessons on how to govern societal transformations: Cape Verde’s success can be attributed to the ‘necessary’ elements of good policy and economic fundamentals, including macroeconomic stability, which many countries have had. Cape Verde also met the ‘sufficient’ condition, namely, functioning institutions and governance, meaning transparency, inclusive development, equitable sharing of the rewards of growth, and delivering results to the people to sustain their confidence and gain their support for new initiatives. (African Development Bank, 2012:xi)

The report argues that, although policies in themselves are important, a necessary condition is a conducive governance infrastructure of sound, inclusive, and transparent institutions in which leadership is fundamental at all levels, not only at the top. Some suggested governance practices and institutions are not only seen as necessary for achieving transformation goals, but are in fact normatively also part of the goals themselves. For example, the calls for deliberative and inclusive democratic processes to achieve transformation in Costa Rica’s national plans form an important part of the transformation process itself. Another example is SDG 16,

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which we referred to earlier, which calls for more accountable, transparent, and inclusive institutions as essential parts of the global governance to ensure the transformative change of the SDGs. 7.3.2 Just Transformations The concept of ‘just transitions’ is used to highlight the need for social or political interventions to ensure that progressive sustainability actions do not aggravate the poverty or insecurity of the already vulnerable (e.g., Swilling & Annecke, 2012). The concept also points to the need to secure workers’ livelihoods when industrial sectors are shifting to low-carbon sustainable production, while keeping in mind that the status quo, or the absence of societal transformations towards sustainability, also imposes dire injustices on people suffering from global environmental change. The ‘just transitions’ concept emanated from indigenous groups, but was picked up by trade unions and is now endorsed by organisations such as the International Labour Organization (2015). We argue that ‘just transformations’ better captures the broader challenges in the political sphere of transformation related to the decarbonisation of society, as it alludes to how human and ontological security can be addressed in times of systemic disruption, or even to how disruption can be taken advantage of to form more just societies. The ‘yellow vest’ protests in France that surged in 2018 with hundreds of thousands of people protesting increased fuel prices, consumer protests against the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies in many countries around the world (SkovgaardPetersen & Asselt, 2018), and resistance to decarbonisation in fossil fuel-dependent regions (Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, 2019) demonstrate the importance for the legitimacy of transformation governance of addressing the links between perceived widening socio-economic inequalities within nations and low-carbon transformations. Sectors expected to decline as a result of low-carbon transformation, according to the European Commission’s in-depth analysis of a climate-neutral economy, include coal and lignite mining, crude petroleum and natural gas extraction, and the manufacture of chemicals as well as motor vehicles and trailers. Twenty-four of the EU’s twenty-eight member states have regions where more than 1 per cent of the workforce is employed in such sectors. In particular, EU member states with lower GDP per capita have regions with higher dependence on sectors expected to decline, such as Strední Cechy in the Czech Republic, Közép-Dunántúl in Hungary, and Vest in Romania, in all of which about 10 per cent of the workforce is expected to be affected (European Commission, 2018).

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Summarising a series of case studies of both historic and present energy transformations and the transitions of major coal-consuming economies, Oliver Sartor (2018) notes some lessons learned, such as the importance of establishing national or regional transition bodies and of providing funds to support the diversification of existing industries and the location of regionally relevant energy innovation projects, for example, decarbonised steel production, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, job retraining programmes, local infrastructure investments, improvement of ‘soft attractiveness factors’ (e.g., cleaning up polluted areas, beautification, education opportunities, and improved Internet access), and efforts to bolster higher education and skill training programmes. Another core lesson from the case studies is that the employees in coal industries facing closure ‘want to be heard, in good faith, early in the process, and be given a chance to participate meaningfully in the decision-making process that concerns their future’ (Sartor, 2018:27). A particular challenge is to re-establish the trust necessary for inclusive dialogues, as one’s own or others’ previous experiences of government- or company-driven restructuring may have created high levels of mistrust (Sartor, 2018). In the lead-up to COP24 in Katowice, the Polish presidency pushed hard to put ‘solidarna transformacja’ on the agenda, acknowledging the regions and workforces most affected by low-carbon transitions. The resulting declaration, signed by more than fifty country leaders or parties, concludes that ‘public policies to reduce emissions will face social resistance’ and pose ‘significant political risks for governments’ that implement them unless accompanied by support for the workers whose jobs will be lost or transformed. In the long term, however, the implementation of a solidarity transformation will help maintain popular support for the ambitious restructuring needed to create the low-carbon society (Poland, 2018). To this end, transformation research has noted the importance of inclusive processes and the need for deliberative dialogues with those who see their livelihood doubly challenged by economic globalisation and transformations towards decarbonisation. To achieve just transformations, there is a need for transformative learning processes that takes into account learners’ diverging social contexts and goals (Boström et al., 2018). We will return to the role of dialogue and transformative learning in Chapter 8. 7.3.3 Incremental Change vs Disruptive Innovation More deep-seated questions are to what extent systems can change themselves. Can actors use the institutions that create and uphold systems to change them? Can disruptive change be governed through existing structures? To address the messy

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character of transformation governance, René Kemp and Babette Never (2017) envisioned ‘goal-oriented modulation’, referring to the ‘co-evolutionary change processes’ of transitions in socio-technical systems that cannot be steered towards definite outcomes, but can still be managed through multi-level governing processes. Here, transition management helps societies transform themselves gradually and reflexively through guided processes of variation and selection, the outcomes of which provide stepping stones towards continued change. Accordingly, the governance of transformations (or, in the case of Kemp et al. (1998), ‘transitions’) requires incremental rather than revolutionary changes. For example, Roger Hildingsson (2014) points at the three decades of changing the Swedish system of district heating from fully dependent on fossil energy to becoming almost fossil free through a series of public policy changes along the entire innovation chain as an illustrative example of progressive incrementalism. Another popular concept in this context is ‘nudging’, which refers to the subtle triggering of sustainable behaviours through influencing choice options, for example, by setting the more sustainable option as the default (WBGU, 2011). An argument against gradualist approaches is that modern economies are completely ‘entangled’ in GHG-intensive practices and interests. ‘Even in countries that are not fossil fuel producers, tax revenues, financial markets, pension funds and jobs depend to varying degrees on GHG-emitting activities, which can place governments in a position of significant conflict should they try to implement strong climate policies’, argued the OECD (2017:33). Is it possible to break such dependence without a partial collapse of the old system or radical policy initiatives? Another argument is that there is a risk that niche transformations may become what Durant and Diehl (1989), in their analogy with evolutionary theory, call ‘phyletic transformations’, that is, changes that never branch out, but continue to descend in a single line. As such, they will never have sufficient impact to sustainably trigger changes that reform all of society. Set against protracted, gradual, transformation is the view that transformation requires some kind of ‘quantum leap’ approach in order to truly disrupt the system. Disruptive innovation, whether in technology, industry, or society, differs from regular innovation, which steadily introduces novel features but does not fundamentally alter established practices. Westley et al. (2011) used the language of transition theory to describe innovation that lacks transformative potential, but just creates system resilience: From a systemic innovation viewpoint, this is the equivalent of ideas that take advantage of opportunities at the regime level but do not fundamentally challenge the broader landscape or institutional level that defines and constrains the problem domain. For example, an

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innovative programme designed to address the needs of the homeless, may provide new technology such as ‘portable homes’ to people living on the streets, but only confirms the resilience of the broader institutions that produce and reproduce the homeless problem, such as our built environments and our property regimes. (Westley et al., 2011:769)

Westley et al. (2011:768) viewed ‘disruptive’ or ‘catalytic’ innovation as a way to ensure that change addresses not only the current interests of the powerful, but ‘the needs of those not served by the dominant institutional and organizational systems, including the governance system’. In a study of ‘transformative decision-making processes’ in the wine industry in Australia, Sarah Park et al. (2012) started from the adaptive cycle concept, illustrating the difference between a transformative governance model and an incremental one. In the problem-structuring phase, incremental governance focused on short-term reactive management, whereas transformative governance proactively strove to manage present and future change, with uncertainty and system critique being built into the decision-making procedures. In the agenda-setting stage, which took account of transformation visions and pathways, the incremental adaption strategies of the wine industry addressed short-term threats to production quality and quantity (Park et al., 2012). The scope and prospects of change were limited. The transformative adaptation information underpinning decision-making was assembled from a wide range of sources; while uncertainties were recognised, they were not a reason to discard the information, but were rather retained in constituting the basis of action. According to Park et al. (2012), factors that could incentivise incremental change in the Australian wine industry included meeting contractual obligations and tracking current market demand, while factors incentivising transformative change included the potential to attract new supply contracts, prospects to produce premium wines, the ability of new locations to satisfy consumers’ aesthetic and ethical demands, the acceptance of human-induced climate change as motivation for taking action now although the benefits would accrue in the future, and the flexibility to access financial capital. In the incremental change model, evaluation, monitoring, and learning were hampered by the notion that ‘the future won’t deliver anything beyond the current system’ (Park et al., 2012:123) and by a focus on short-term survival. The transformative governance measures included continuous evaluation, monitoring, and learning as well as building the capacity to create fundamentally new systems and processes. This contraposition of incremental and transformative approaches are helpful in discerning what the two governance tracks may imply for changing a specific sector.

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7.3.4 Niche Development vs Integrated Approaches Many publications on transformation governance rely on the three-level schema of multi-level transition management theory that we touched upon in Chapter 1. First, niche innovations initiate a transformation process and create impetus for change, through accelerating learning, improving processes or technologies, enhancing cost effectiveness, and mustering support from the public or influential groups. Second, changes in the landscape, such as new government regulations, major value changes, and altered consumer behaviour, put pressure on the regime to change. Third, when a regime is destabilised, this creates windows of opportunity for niches to be developed and infused into new regimes (Folke et al., 2010). ‘Niche spaces’, a term borrowed from the transition literature, are proposed by some scholars as a necessary way to trigger transformation. For example, building codes in British Columbia, Canada allow for experimentation that can then be transferred to other cities or regions (Burch et al., 2014). Among international policy instruments, NAMA can stimulate niche developments, Fridahl and Johansson (2017) argue, that will in turn spur developing countries’ transformations in the energy and industrial sectors, such as the Cook Islands’ shift from diesel generators to off-grid renewable energy production, Bangladesh’s piloting of locally produced heat-recovery systems in two steel factories, which would preheat incoming materials, and the Gambia’s promotion of new cooking stoves. To avoid oscillating transformation, all of these changes need to be coupled with policies and strategies facilitating their scale-up to fundamentally alter the socio-technical systems. Instigating transformation entails preparing a system for radical change by recognising windows of opportunity and identifying tipping points that set desired transformational changes in motion. In niche technology terms, ‘window of opportunity’ refers to a temporary arena, a specific period in which a usually stable, institutionalized regime is receptive to innovation. In this phase, the previous lock-in between the regime and the configuration of the socio-technical system becomes temporarily unlocked. This leaves the system open to influence from alternative technologies, which might shift the system from its established trajectory to encompass radical innovation. (Tongur & Engwall, 2017:84)

The argument is that, while minor, targeted and incremental interventions may be fragmentary at the time of implementation, taken together they have the cumulative potential to constitute more substantial transformation over time. 7.3.5 Mechanisms of Governance Governance instruments are typically grouped into seven categories: legal instruments, economic instruments, informative instruments, societal planning, international

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Table 7.2 Definitions of key concepts of transformation governance processes. Governance mechanism Goal

Output

Target population

Outcomes Leverage mechanism

Institutional framework Intervention

The pathway or process by which a targeted outcome is achieved The situation that the governance response seeks to create; it could be a transformation process or the ultimate outcome of this process. What the governance response produces and the target group receives, such as a participatory seminar, solar panel subsidy, or fuel consumption standard. The actors, such as governments, companies, international organisations, or individuals, that the governance response seeks to influence. The actions expected to be taken by the population targeted by an output. What it is believed that an intervention (e.g., a deliberation process, carbon fuel tax, or research and development investment) must influence to achieve its goals. The organisations, rules, and norms that enable the output to be produced. The output as well as the processes and institutions assumed to be necessary to produce the output and for the output to function as a leverage mechanism.

Source: Based on Chen, 2005; Linnér et al., 2012; Mickwitz, 2006.

negotiations and agreements, public procurement, and research, development, and demonstration. Variations of this categorisation occur. For example, international agreements can be part of legal instruments, and research, development, and demonstration can be categorised as an informative instrument. In the following, we suggest a structure for categorising the many different approaches to governing transformation (Table 7.2), whether through laws, regulation, pricing, standards, or information. These are typically part of a governance mechanism to reach specific goals. These goals comprise specific outputs, for example, a tax on airline travel addressing a specific target population, such as domestic flight commuters or longdistance leisure travellers. The expected outcome in this case would be to promote commuting by train or vacation travel that does not require flying. When establishing the underlying assumptions about how transformation can be governed, we also need to understand the expected leverage mechanism, that is, what needs to be influenced for a governance instrument to be successful, whether it is the target group’s price sensitivity, awareness, or capacity to take action through new

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resources or technology. The leverage mechanism refers to, for example, a deliberation process, carbon fuel tax, or research and development programme, must influence to realise the desired goal. A deliberation process, for example, can seek to build legitimacy or strengthen commitment to a country’s climate law, while a carbon fuel tax can attempt to induce people to switch to electric or biogas cars. Finally, the institutional framework provides the structure that enables or hinders the output. This includes political, social, legal, economic, and technological feasibility. Taken together, these elements make up the interventions intended to achieve a break with the status quo or path dependencies (Table 7.2). For example, the interventions to incite transformations discussed in Chapters 4–6 include a wide range of interventions ranging from investing in research and development on carbon capture and storage to promoting solar energy, initiating deliberation processes, and enhancing education. Why are proposed interventions in the form of policies or measures and institutions expected to influence the transformation? In other words, how are transformation governance measures intended to work? Ideally, we would find information about why, under what circumstances, and for whom the governance interventions would be successful. 7.3.6 The Power of Narratives As we saw in previous chapters, narrative is a key resource in making sense of various ideas about and approaches to transformation. Weick (1984) urged us to create new narratives to link together these small, not yet connected changes to form a chain of events. The UN 2030 Agenda is an example of such a narrative, emphasising an integrated in contrast to a niche approach. The preamble of the 2030 Agenda presents transformations as already happening, but the UN document also signals that the SDGs will help us govern transformation in a sound way if they are addressed as an integrated package: ‘The interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals are of crucial importance in ensuring that the purpose of the new Agenda is realised. If we realize our ambitions across the full extent of the Agenda, the lives of all will be profoundly improved and our world will be transformed for the better’ (UN General Assembly, 2015:2). This integration is reflected by the graphic design of the SDG logo in which the colours of all SDGs are linked in a circle (Figure 7.2); the typographic instructions explicitly state that this circle cannot be cropped (Figure 7.3). Scholars are now busy analysing how these goals can be linked, identifying the positive, neutral, and negative synergies arising when they meet, and considering how the trade-offs are to be managed. New Web-based tools (Brandi et al., 2017; Pauw et al., 2016) are being developed to help governments and professionals understand how the

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Figure 7.2 The graphic profile of the UN’s SDGs. Source: UN, 2017c.

DO NOT crop

Figure 7.3 The UN’s SDG logo instructions. Source: UN, 2017c. Image reproduced with permission from www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainabledevelopment-goals.* *The content of this publication has not been approved by the United Nations and does not reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States.

goals and targets are linked. It is not easy to treat the SDGs as a whole in practice; as a narrative it works, however, emphasising that, for transformation to be truly sustainable, in the view of the UN, it must be all-encompassing global system change. Stefan Tongur and Mats Engwall (2017) emphasised the role of narratives in ‘the empowerment processes’ of windows of opportunity. In these processes, actors typically advance a political agenda by forging alliances and creating ‘institutional

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opportunities through narratives about the past, present, and future performance of the niche innovation . . . Such narratives function as strategic devices for framing the niche innovation as the solution to a specific regime problem’ (Tongur & Engwall, 2017:85). One could think of the drop in price of solar panels that forms a story of the unstoppable renewable society. Drawing on failures to understand the predicament of women displaced in postconflict Eritrea, Westley et al. (2011) argued that story-telling workshops could be a creative tool to foster the transformation of their situation. Kuenkel (2019:224) concluded, after reviewing literature and interviewing fifty researchers and practitioners in the area of global sustainability, that ‘enlivening narratives’, that is, narratives that ‘invigorate the human capacity to shape a sustainable future collectively at scale’ can act as transformation enablers, facilitating the stewarding of sustainability transformations. 7.3.7 Changing the Way We Change Following the three spheres of transformations, governance itself also has to change. The emergent transformations, not least those brought on by global environmental change, will require new governance approaches. Oran Young (2017) calls this Type II governance, which provides enhanced capacity to govern under uncertainty, coping with non-linear events and handling the teleconnections of coupled biophysical and human systems. The regulatory and rule-making governance of Type I is designed to manage oscillating systems. This is the type of governance we are used to turn to. A transforming world will require the addition of a new type of governance. The exploration of what Type II governance may entail is just in its beginning, but is one of the fundamental governance challenges for a world that is most likely to face disruptive environmental and social events (Young, 2017). Others directly address the power aspects of present governance. For example, Andy Stirling (2014) has identified a need to transform power, or even the notion of power, for two reasons. First, and most obviously, as agency and structure shape transformations, notions of pathways of change and the very idea of transition as well as transformation may not only reflect power interest, but serve incumbent actors. Second, the notion of power, in the colloquial sense of exercising some mode of social control, can ‘simply entrench and perpetuate misleading “fallacies of control” . . . Such reinforcing of incumbency can all-too-easily lead to the opposite of transformation’ (Stirling, 2014:84). Are the complex social, technical, economic, and environmental processes of transformation susceptible to control? When an actor claims to have the agency to steer transformations, this is itself a means to exercise influence. Stirling warned us that such agency claims can also be used to cement the interests of incumbents.

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‘History provides many examples where ostensibly revolutionary efforts to overturn incumbency simply reproduce it in another form – often more entrenched . . . Seeking to effect social transformation is a Faustian dance. Power is necessary for transformation, but this may be subverted if power itself is not transformed’ (Stirling, 2014:84). Ideas on the transformation of power are articulated in texts representing different ideological outlooks, essentially encompassing all the literature that sees the current liberal economic world order as fundamental to the present unsustainable situation. For example, Bob Deacon (2014:203) introduced the concept of ‘transformative global social policy’, resting on three interventions: advancing new patterns of production, consumption, and investments; shifting producer and consumer behaviour; and bolstering human security and safeguarding an equitable redistribution of power and resources. Deacon (2014) suggested three ways to make this happen: redistribution from richer to poorer; regulation to make companies and other non-state actors behave in socially responsible ways; and safeguarding social rights in all regulations. ‘A progressive global social policy would ensure a greater degree of trans-national redistribution, more effective trans-national social regulation, and more effective mechanisms to ensure the realization of international social rights’ (Deacon, 2014:203). International organisations in tandem with transnational social movements are the key actors in such transformative social policy, such as when the ILO and the Polish presidency initiative at COP24 join forces for just transformations. In Chapter 4 and 6, we referred to Ecuador as an example of a country that lays out particularly elaborate sustainability transformation plans in its INDC, providing a counterpoint to the neoliberal world order. The country also aspires to reformulate the concept of political power. Since the 2005 elections, Ecuador has been led by the PAIS Alliance, a democratic socialist party. The country’s internal power struggles are evident in the National Plan for Good Living, which calls the earlier political elite ‘useless’ and ‘un-governable’; accordingly, ‘transformation of the State is seen as an appropriate distribution of power, through the [Ecuadorian] decentralization that is part of democratization’ (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:17), which will ultimately make the citizens ‘active participants in their own transformation’ (National Secretariat of Planning and Development, 2013:24). A different example comes from the WBGU, which in its flagship report World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability (WBGU, 2011:1) stated that ‘the carbon-based economic model is also an unsustainable situation, as it endangers the climate system’s stability, and therefore the natural lifesupport system for future generations’. The WBGU report envisaged that transformation would come about through a new social contract involving the ‘simultaneous empowerment of state and citizens’, and advocated the active involvement of ‘change agents’ at the grassroots level and a proactive state ‘firmly anchored in the tradition of a liberal

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and constitutional democracy, but it develops this democracy further with a view towards the future sustainability of democratic communities and liberal civil societies, and takes into account the boundaries imposed on economic and social development by a finite planet’ (WBGU, 2011:9). In this liberal version, the transformation of power does not entail the redistribution of wealth, but of influence. 7.4 What Roles Do Different Actors Play? 7.4.1 Key Actors in Transformations Diverse actors and institutions have been proposed to be key agents by the policy documents, media texts, and focus group participants cited in Chapters 4–6, actors ranging from politicians and business leaders to grassroots organisations and individual citizens. Three features stand out. First, it is greatly emphasised in particular in several low- and middle-income countries that the public should be involved in transformational dialogues, making it an essential actor. Second, non-state actors are highlighted as crucial actors, either in their own capacity as companies, civil society organisations, and local governments, or in public–private partnerships. This follows the general trend for non-state actors to be of growing importance for legitimacy, justice, and effectiveness in international climate and environmental governance over the last two decades (Kuyper et al., 2018). However, as discussed in Chapter 4, the policy recognition of these actors is at the general level, rather than tying specific roles to specific actors. This brings us to our third observation: rather than particular actors being emphasised in the literature as a whole, it is instead their acquired transformative capacity that is stressed as pivotal. This capacity goes well beyond the governance profiles of non-state actors discussed in Chapter 4 – that is, implementing action, providing ideas or expertise, raising awareness, proposing solutions, influencing decisions and policymakers, evaluating the consequences of policies and measures, monitoring progress, and representing public opinion and marginalised voices – as it tends to emphasise the need for adaptiveness, creativity, and innovativeness. Transformative agency also includes collective leadership and supplying visions (Kuenkel, 2019; Westley et al., 2011). 7.4.2 Narratives of Transformation Pathways The question of who should implement transformative changes concerns what actors, organisations, and institutions are crucial for implementing a policy or acting on an initiative, with what resources and wielding what agency. The answer to the question varies depending on how the pathways to sustainability are framed.

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In their book The Politics of Green Transformations, Scoones et al. (2015) identified four core narratives of transformation pathways to sustainability: technocentric, marketised, state-led, and citizen-led narratives. These narratives illustrate governance alternatives and can be seen as variants of the first core narrative presented in Chapter 6, that is, transformation as a journey. The characterisation of these sub-narratives that follows is stylised. Although the narratives often contradict one another, they sometimes intersect, and the schema of narratives provides a general overview of certain core differences between governance mechanisms, presenting different ideas on to what extent different actors should be involved in leading change. The technocentric narrative focuses on policymaking that promotes know-how and creates incentives for new ‘green’ technological measures, such as investments in research, development, demonstration, and diffusion, strengthened intellectual property rights, subsidies for renewable energy installations, green bonds to stimulate technology development, and fuel standards. As noted in Chapter 5, in our case studies we found the technocentric narrative to be particularly strong in the Swedish focus groups and policy documents, as well as in some of the Guangzhou focus groups. Scoones et al. (2015:11) concluded that this narrative frames ‘greenness’ as ‘an attribute of a technology itself, and as if the technology had agency in economic transformation’. Accordingly, if the right governance mechanisms stimulating leapfrogging technologies are in place, the rest will follow automatically. In the marketised narrative, the main cause of an unsustainable situation is market failure. Therefore, stimulating green entrepreneurialism, strengthening private property rights, pricing environmental externalities, and/or creating market incentives will eventually lead to a sustainable transformation. The state-led transformation narrative emphasises the role of institutional change, stronger government control, and state-led initiatives, stressing Keynesian industrial and infrastructure policies for stimulating transformation. It also advocates the reform of international institutions to make them more effective at targeting sustainable development. A growing literature discusses ‘green stateness’ (Duit et al., 2015; Eckersley, 2004; Lövbrand & Linnér, 2015), with the environmental state literature emphasising empirically observed occurrences of ‘a significant set of institutions and practices dedicated to the management of the environment and societal–environmental interactions. Typically, this includes: environmental ministries and agencies; framework environmental laws; air, water and waste management legislation and associated regulatory bodies and mechanisms; dedicated budgets and environmental finance and tax provisions; and scientific advisory bodies, councils, and research organisations’ (Duit et al., 2015:5). The ‘green state’ is associated with a normative view of countries that show leadership by taking strong action mitigating environmental impact or

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internalising ecological and social and/or circular economy principles in their legislation and institutions. The narrative of citizen-led transformation emphasises that change arises from initiatives from below. This view was articulated by some of the focus groups mentioned in Chapter 5, whose participants pointed to the role of individual and collective citizen engagement and lifestyle change in inspiring others and thereby spurring sustainability transformations. Many of the initiatives of the green social movements that critique present economic systems are also found here, such as the ‘buen vivir’ movement, mentioned in Chapter 4, or the transition movement, which we examined earlier in this chapter. Citizen-led change could also take the form of consumer campaigns to promote reduced meat consumption, for example, which do not necessarily challenge the liberal economic order. 7.4.3 Interventions: Co-creation, Transformative Capacity, and Social Innovations The study of transition management, defined as organising ‘radical shifts from one system or configuration to another’ (Geels & Schot, 2010:11), provides a theoretical understanding of how sustainability transitions develop from niches to the mainstream in a regime. Transition management theory is not without its critics. The assumed governance pathways have been debated, in particular the focus on involving stakeholders in co-creation processes to achieve transitions. Whereas some argue that the process of engaging stakeholders in co-creating knowledge to support transition management initiatives can itself attempt to ‘empower groups by translating system knowledge into the transition process’ (Hjerpe et al., 2017:28; cf. Rauschmayer et al., 2015), some critics echo concerns that we discussed in relation to the ‘transformation as co-creation’ narrative in Chapter 6: namely, that this narrative risks neglecting conflicting interests and power relations among stakeholders (Kenis et al., 2016). Others point to the lack of attention to individual sense-making regarding visions and proposals for change (Rauschmayer et al., 2015). Domenico Dentoni et al. (2017) criticised transition management theory as overly reliant on market-based rather than political instruments; as such, it reinforces the positions of privileged groups, whether from business, politics, or civil society. Citizens are accordingly involved primarily as consumers (Dentoni et al., 2017). This criticism is not entirely fair, however. Some of the transition management literature, which emphasises market instruments, also sees regulating markets and correcting market failures as essential (cf. Kemp & Never, 2017). Moreover, in other transformation processes, co-creation plays a critical role in creating new,

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empowering, and reconciling narratives. Co-creation has been essential to transformative scenario planning where conceivable societal changes are elaborated and included in social decision-making processes (Walker et al., 2004). It has also been used to address difficult situations in which people have conflicting agendas but agree that the present situation is untenable, notably, in post-apartheid planning in South Africa and post-war planning in Colombia. The many co-creation exercises conducted around the world have involved, for example, politicians, peasants, activists, artists, academics, business people, trade unionists, civil servants, and community leaders, with varied agendas and resources of power (Kahane, 2012). Nevertheless, criticism of the co-creation narrative and of the transition management literature points to the importance of scrutinising the assumptions of transformation theories regarding key actors, target groups, and principal leverage mechanisms. In light of this criticism, insights from large systems change point to the importance of narratives of sustainability, in which goals and values provide coherence and direction across the many conflicting and equivocal initiatives taken by various actors to address the complex problems of sustainable development. However, narratives are not enough in themselves to trigger transformations; there is also need for changes in practices and behaviour. In a study of transformation governance in global food and agricultural systems, Dentoni et al. (2017) cited examples of co-creation strategies; for example, these have become very common in private or public–private partnerships to spur sustainable food production and retail. However useful, such co-creation does not suffice to create transformative change of the food and agriculture sectors, but rather entrenches the market interests of powerful businesses, such as Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, which leads the Sustainability Consortium. For political–economic transformation, co-creation initiatives need to be complemented with initiatives in which private or public actors use their resources to unilaterally exercise leadership to change patterns, such as when large retailers can compel their suppliers to introduce new sustainability practices, corporate social responsibility, codes of conduct, or fair trade or organic certifications. Companies can also lead by example, such as when the ice cream company Ben and Jerry sought to put corporate social responsibility and environmental concerns at the centre of its business model. According to large system change theory, this is still not enough: such initiatives need to be complemented with the use of force, either by civil society boycott campaigns or public legislation. For us, the differences between transition management and large system theory are subtle; in essence, they are both aligned with what most authors discussed in this chapter

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emphasise, namely, the need to combine multiple governance instruments (Dentoni et al., 2017). The socio-ecological literature stresses that the capacity to adapt to and steer change in order to enhance the resilience of socio-ecological systems must be coupled with the capacity to innovate in order to move a socio-ecological system from an undesired state to a new regime. In other words, it is essential to know ‘if, when, and how to initiate transformative change, before it is too late to escape a seriously undesirable and deepening basin of attraction’ (Walker et al., 2004:5; cf. Westley et al., 2011). The term ‘adaptive governance system’ is intended to capture this ability to achieve resilience while also creating necessary innovations. For such a governance system to succeed, legitimate, inclusive, and transparent decisionmaking processes are necessary. Given the central role of innovation supported by experimentation, agency is given a prominent role in adaptive governance and social, political, and institutional entrepreneurship become essential. Westley et al. (2011:775–776) noted the importance of supporting ‘institutional entrepreneurs’ who are able to recognise and foster social and technical innovations that can drive transformations, and of ‘connecting them to the necessary capital – social, financial, and cultural [– that] will help to ensure institutional impact, durability, and scale’. Walker et al. (2004:6) cited a case of rangeland transformation in south-eastern Zimbabwe where devastating cattle ranching was transformed into ‘a new stability landscape could be created by introducing new ways for earning a living, such as ecotourism, based on wildlife and rivers’. The triggering factor, the leverage, was a natural disaster – a drought. The determining factor, however, was a particular quality possessed by the ranchers and their community: ‘The capacity to create such a new stability landscape is known as transformability – the capacity to create untried beginnings from which to evolve a new way of living when existing ecological, economic, or social structures become untenable’ (Walker et al., 2004:4), and new variables are introduced or allowed to emerge. Transformability is consequently a key concept in research into socio-ecological systems (e.g., Folke et al., 2010), capturing the alternative when resilience and adaptability do not suffice to create sustainability. The concept has primarily been applied to local and regional transformations, although Walker et al. (2004) also observed this quality at the civilisational scale. Many multi-level governance scholars have theorised that shifting the locus of authority from the central state to regional and local levels, and from state to non-state actors, is vital for the successful governance of transformations to sustainability (Burch et al., 2014). For example, Sarah Burch et al. (2014) concluded in their study of transformation pathways by which local communities in British Columbia, Canada could reduce their

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carbon footprints while becoming more resilient, that such paths are often technologically and economically feasible but require changes in governance. They argued that climate policies alone are not sufficient, but that transformations need to be spurred by community development policies. Such policies require participatory governance and social inclusion, involving state and non-state actors in communities not only in implementation, but also in policy design, strategic partnerships, and technical, political, or community-based leadership. These enabling factors target niche developments rather than what we call ‘quantum leap’ transformations. Göpel (2016) said that emerging new economic paradigms are central to achieving the huge mindshift necessary for societal transformations to sustainability. Experimentation, social innovation, and learning will enable such a mindshift. Consequently, Göpel provides four examples of what she describes as pioneering radical initiatives that seek to recouple the production of goods and services with human well-being and sustainable and caring treatment of humans and other species: The Economy for the Common Good business initiative, Transition Towns, the civil society initiative the Commoning Movement, and Bhutan’s ‘Beyond GDP’ ambitions. Just as new technologies can be important leverages for sustainability transformations, social innovation scholars point at the vital role of intentional change in social practices. But a social innovation is not transformative in and of itself. Just as technological innovations can be part of sustainability transformations and work against them, the social innovations can work both ways for different groups and be more or less transformative. The history of social innovations is both an inspiring and cautionary tale (Westley et al., 2017). The transformation of governance institutions can be part of what we define as particular transformations. The purpose of such transformations is to make institutions and communities capable of triggering transformational change and of guiding ongoing transformational processes. This notion was also expressed in the early definition of earth system governance that directly addressed the need for adaptive governance to sustainably cope with earth system transformations, in addition to ‘preventing, mitigating, and adapting to global and local environmental change’ (Biermann et al., 2009:3). 7.4.4 Agency and Social Structure The policy documents analysed in this book tell one story of agency. The focus groups tell another side of the story, showing that, when people make sense of transformation, the notion emerges as both a political and personal process. In their analysis of the transformation of gender relations, Aruna Rao and David Kelleher (2005:62) called for institutional control over material resources and symbolic assets as well as for ‘changes in deep-seated values and relationships that are held

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in place by power and privilege’. Again, we return to the tension embedded in changing a system by means of the very institutions built and supported by the power structures that have an interest in preserving the system. The so-called problem of the agent–structure relationship in social theory does not concern if they are related, but how. Following Philip Pettit (1993), Alexander Wendt (2015) distinguishes between two fundamental questions. First, whether social structures can be reduced to a flat ontology where they are composed of nothing more than the properties and interactions of its agents, or if the structures emerge from these interactions. The second question is: what constitutes individuals interacting in social structures? Atomists emphasise the material composition of our brains, thus ontologically proceeding society, whereas holists argue that ‘the content of our minds presupposes relationships to other individuals’ (Wendt, 2015:245). Sociologist Anthony Giddens (1984) coined the term ‘duality of structure’, defining structure as the rules and resources, often in the form of social institutions, that influence what action we can take. In his theory of structuration, Giddens polemicised against the classical social theory dichotomy between structure and agency. He argued that structure could restrict the possible action alternatives, while providing the means and forms by which actors can take action and, consequently, possibly transform structure itself (Giddens, 1984). All social practices, which both maintain and reproduce structures, are carried out under specific structural conditions. Giddens’ important contribution is that he pointed out that structures cannot be maintained without agency: structures do not have an existence of their own; they are not living organisms with their own will and consciousness. ‘Structure comes to “live” by action, like language comes to live by speech’ (Lippuner & Werlen, 2009:43), so, agency is both structured and structuring. Also important for transformational change is Giddens’ assertion that social structures have to be persistently reproduced in daily practices. If the practices change, so do the ways in which the structures are reproduced (Lippuner & Werlen, 2009). Accordingly, structuration theory maintains that structures can be changed, although, as we have seen throughout this book, there is no consensus about how this comes about. Can visions and new narratives be tools for altering power structures? Some analysts argue that linguistic practices are less embodied in power structures than in other social structures (e.g., Ruggie, 1998; Sewell Jr, 1992). This means that they can more readily be used in deconstructing power relations and restructuring the system. In an earlier section, we discussed the power of ideas to inspire and guide transformations. Ideas thus constitute a powerful type of agency that can serve

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various interests (Parsons & Nalau, 2016). The framing of societal goals and the pathways to reach them are deeply political aspects of agency. Visions and discursive influence can give precedence to some interest groups over others, privileging certain actors and framings of solutions over others. This can reinforce the ‘collective intentionality’ (Searle, 2010) to articulate the interactions between SDGs and social, economic, or natural relationships and boundaries. This dynamic shapes what is deemed important to transform and what actions and possibilities are required in order to do this. Once again, it matters how we make sense, and it matters who articulates what makes sense in societal transformations towards sustainability. 7.5 Implications for Sustainability Transformations Faced with momentous environmental change and ongoing contemporary industrial transilience, our societies will be transformed irrespective of whether we take action or not; the core question is to what extent we can govern this process. Most analysts see a combination of emergent and deliberate transformations, particularly in the case of major society-wide changes. How we live our lives has fundamentally changed many times over the past 100 years. Most of the major changes in society have resulted from a combination of political governance, industrial development, citizen commitment and priorities, value shifts, and apparent serendipity. The rapid expansion of information and communication technologies is a common example of a transformation brought on by hardly predictable changes in economic production, social processes, and technological innovations in combination with people’s priorities and large government investments in both technology development and infrastructure. The role of transformation governance is, in reaction or anticipation, to attempt to capture the opportunities arising from emerging transformations and to avert consequences that can negatively affect sustainable development. For example, the emergent renewable energy transformation is often seen as a paramount example of hope in climate policy that the low-carbon society is within reach. Even if we would only see technology as a transformation driver, governance measures and incentives to spur innovation in photovoltaic cells and films, wind turbines, and battery capacity need to be complemented with policies and initiatives that endeavour to prevent, for example, international and regional geopolitical conflict over the necessary rare earth minerals as well as environmental pollution and social costs arising from increased mining (e.g., Månsson, 2015; Nansai et al., 2015). And we know from the examples in this book, only technology interventions will hardly suffice to guide major society-wide transformations towards sustainability. A wider set of interventions will be needed.

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For example, in his book Carbon Democracy, Timothy Mitchell illustrated how the use of coal and oil co-evolved with democratic institutions (Mitchell, 2011). The coal-based economy gave the unionised working-class considerable new power to shut down the energy needed for the capitalist economy. Bulky coal thus became a catalyst for more democratic societies. Oil is an energy source less vulnerable to popular protests, but it made the Western power elites more dependent on undemocratic countries in the Middle East. Governance institutions are likewise deeply entwined with renewable energy sources, whether through dependence on rare earth minerals needed for solar panels, batteries, and wind turbines from Brazil, Chile, China, and Russia (Månberger & Stenqvist, 2018), dependence on transnational grids and energy flows, or expectations that a more decentralised energy system will be more democratic (Burke & Stephens, 2017). We still know quite little about the domestic political processes determining how actors and institutions influence transformation locally, domestically, and internationally, how change can be achieved effectively, efficiently, and equitably, what interest transformation pathways will benefit, and how governance must be transformed to enable different transformation pathways (Lockwood, 2015; Meadowcroft, 2011; Scoones et al., 2015). A first step is to pinpoint what system change is to be governed: is it the whole of human civilisation, an entire culture or, for example, an isolated energy or transport system? Empirical observations of the successful governance of large-scale transformations are scarce. Although we have more examples of the governance of particular transformations, we still need to be cautious in generalising from them. Each historical situation is unique. ‘History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes’, Mark Twain reputedly concluded. Rather than providing definitive answers, examples from history and around the world help us navigate what is possible. Five general conclusions can be drawn from the studied literature and our empirical examples. First, governance must target the combined practical, political, and personal aspects of transformation in order to effectively influence change. Societal transformation is often associated with applied, hands-on changes in technology and infrastructure, enhanced skills and capacity, and behavioural change – what O’Brien (2018) called ‘practical transformations’. This chapter has discussed the role of transformative changes in the political sphere, and examples throughout the book have pointed at the significance of perspective changes. This book has mainly focused on the societal aspects of transformation. Covering the personal transformation literature at similar depth was impossible within the present scope. However, ‘the inner dimension of sustainability’ (Horlings, 2015), that is, personal transformations as part of the pathways to

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sustainable development, is a rich and fascinating research area, addressed in fields such as psychology, social learning, pedagogics, communication studies, and environmental humanities. Based on our focus groups, this inner dimension is certainly an aspect of transformation that will be essential for the governance of transformations. However, looking at historical and current examples of transformation processes shows that personal transformation is not enough. The power interests and political–economic aspects of transformation are critical in facilitating socially just transformations. We simply cannot see how the UN’s SDGs can be achieved otherwise. Acknowledging these trade-offs and addressing who stands to gain or lose from transformative processes are essential for attaining socially just transformations. If current power structures remain intact, can we really talk about sustainability transformation? Stirling (2014) has even warned that allowing incumbent interests to go unchallenged could lead to the opposite of transformation. Second, when assessing transformation policies and measures, we need to consider that underlying the various ideas of how transformations can be effectively governed are certain basic questions: whether transformation needs to be accomplished in a ‘quantum leap’ or via protracted incremental change, and whether transformation should concentrate on major systems or focus on particular cases. Particular transformation is not the same as niche transformation, as the latter seeks to influence part of a larger system, eventually having greater impact; a niche transformation is not an end goal. In contrast, a particular transformation may seek to transform only a single bounded energy, transport, urban, or agricultural system. Third, as the history of societal transformations shows that they are complex processes involving material resources, technologies, infrastructure, social organisation, and institutions that co-develop, they need to be addressed using a palette of policies and measures. Most authors thus emphasise the need to combine multiple governance instruments – be they regulatory, economic, informative, planning, or international instruments. Fourth, governance is not only a means to achieve transformative changes in technology, economy, institutions, or values, but is also something that itself needs to be transformed. For example, we argue that inspiration for transformation governance can come from the inclusive dialogues of Fiji, which now serve as a model for the stocktaking dialogues within international climate negotiations (Chapter 5), although the national governance structure in Fiji may still require change in order to achieve transformation. Or are the international institutions that affect Fiji’s economic and social resilience and restrain the country’s scope of action what need to be transformed? Or both? Regardless, to ensure that current

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power structures do not limit transformation potential, the transformation of governance must be a fundamental consideration. The literature commonly suggests that, to transform governance, one should promote inclusive processes that involve a broad range of actors. These processes often go beyond mere consultative stakeholder involvement, proposing co-creation in which mutually desired outcomes are jointly produced. Again, power issues are critical: if involvement is dominated by privileged groups with resources, connections, and positions that give them influence, how can we ensure that the transformation efforts do not simply reinforce current power interests? For partial transformations this may be a sufficient and effective way to achieve results; however, if the sustainability transformations require fundamental system changes in society, the power structures of participation will also need to be addressed. Fifth, as transformation cannot be controlled and completely foreseen, transformative agency is vital as it provides leadership and supplies visions. Many of the focus groups in our case studies identified the role of capacity development in becoming resilient in the face of emergent transformations, and in enabling actors to exploit windows of opportunity or to instigate change. Finally, if the SDGs are assumed to be the ultimate goals of transformation, then aiming at particular transformations is a distraction, unless these transformations are planned as a niche development strategy that can instigate major system changes that encompass technological, economic, institutional, and/or value aspects, all of which are necessary conditions for realistically achieving the SDGs as a package. As discussed earlier, it is a daunting challenge to keep the SDGs together as a package, but, as a transformation narrative, doing so speaks to the necessity of having major, global, systemic change as the ultimate goal.

8 Our Transforming World

‘Everything great that ever happened in this world happened first in somebody’s imagination’, concluded Swedish children’s book author Astrid Lindgren, creator of the Pippi Longstocking series, as she received the H. C. Andersen Award in 1958 (Lindgren, 1958). This exploration of stories of transformation reveals a colourful palette of imaginative visions of society. These stories hopefully help to spur our creativity, suggesting possible sustainable futures and how to reach them. By mapping different ways of making sense of transformation and by systematising the various elements of transformation, distinguishing between temporal scales, system levels, and the drivers of systemic change, we hope that this book promotes reflection on these stories. Our conclusions are based on the literature and documents we identified through systematic searches of the use of the concepts ‘societal transformation’ and ‘sustainability’. We also want to stress the proliferation of practical initiatives that are experimenting with how to spur sustainability transformations around the world. They represent practical transformations, bringing about hands-on changes in technology and infrastructure, skills, capacity, and/or behaviour, rather than documenting the plans, actions and outcomes in open-source publications. While providing some precision and transparency in how we selected our sources, the use of systematic selection criteria also meant that we excluded many new, practical initiatives that have not yet been documented, much less published. There is a fascinating world of bold initiatives in farming, urban development, community engagement, economic practices, and, not least, all kinds of art forms. By no means are we claiming our conclusions on the sensemaking of sustainability transformations to be exhaustive or representative of all efforts. These growing cultural phenomena certainly call for studies of their own. We hope that our book can serve as a source of inspiration and reflection for those experimenting creatively with sustainability transformations. 180

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Although a few see transformations as results of impending ecological collapse, overall, the sources of this book, from policy documents to focus groups, convey a sense of optimism. We largely share this hope about the prospects of influencing sustainability transformations, largely because of the vibrant activities and discussions occurring around the world and previous examples of major transformations that were possible to, at least partly, guide in desired directions through practical actions, engagement, and governance initiatives. However, even well-intentioned optimism can be oversimplifying. For example, the WBGU provided a useful overview of transition and transformation initiatives, which we cited in the previous chapter. The report concluded in 2011 that ‘the technological potential for comprehensive decarbonisation is available . . . and the policy instruments needed for a climate-friendly transformation are widely known. Now it is foremost a political task to overcome the barriers of such a transformation, and to accelerate the change’ (WBGU, 2011:1). Although we agree that there is huge potential for decarbonisation, we disagree with the general statement that the policy instruments for such a transformation are common knowledge. This is reflected in this book’s findings on the sense-making on sustainability transformation regarding the governability of transformations, system boundaries, the pace of transformations, and the drivers of change. 8.1 The Governability of Transformations The first question faced when considering sustainability transformation is the extent to which societal transformations can be steered in the desired directions: to what extent are they results of historical processes beyond our control, or entangled in such complex interactions that our ability to manage them is severely limited? Are the major systemic societal processes far too complex to manage? If by ‘manage’ we mean control, that is definitely so. A basic insight from complex systems theory is that long-term deliberate planning rarely unfolds as intended, as it is virtually impossible to predict the irregular, non-linear interactions, reorganisations, and feedback loops of many components emerging over time and the dependencies between systems and their environments. This is particularly valid for adaptive complex social systems such as human societies, in which agents respond to, adapt to, and learn from emerging interactions (Flood, 2002; Miller & Page, 2007). These systems are characterised by what Flood (2002:13–14) calls dynamic complexity, in which the ‘effects over time of interrelatedness are subtle and the results of actions are not obvious; or where short term and long term effects are significantly different; or where effects locally are different from effects on a wider scale’. In contrast, more delimited systems, such as transport or energy, can display

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detailed complexity, in which there are many variables that may be difficult, but not impossible, to consider as a whole. If by manage we mean trying to find ‘clumsy solutions’ (Verweij et al., 2006) in order to muddle through, we can certainly set out to govern also dynamic complex systems – to ‘manage the unmanageable’ (Flood, 2002:3). Evan Thompson (1997:139) characterised the clumsy approach as ‘always learning, never getting it right’. This requires transformative learning and platforms for dialogue – matters to which we shall return. The literature on historical examples of transformations discussed throughout this book suggests competing causalities of transformation: religion, population growth, ideas, institutions, economic and technological change, ecological conditions, and depleting resource bases. For future societal transformations, we will likely see a combination of emergent and deliberate societal transformations, influenced by a combination of political governance, emerging modes of transnational economic exchange, socio-technical innovations, citizen commitment and priorities, environmental changes, apparent serendipity, and often an amalgamation between old and emerging systems. To challenge the entrenched pathdependencies of systems, Olsson et al. (2017) argue that social innovations need to recombine existing and novel concepts, ideas, and technologies into a bricolage. Also, as we learn from history, transformational change is not always positive for all actors, indubitably not for those already societally or ecologically vulnerable (cf. Blythe et al., 2018). We therefore need thorough reflection on the political economy dimensions of transformation, a topic to which we will return shortly. Another core question is to what extent the intended sustainability will be the outcome of deliberate transformations, and to what extent unintended unsustainable practices will emerge. History is full of examples of well-intentioned solutions that have environmentally backfired, with DDT as an emblematic example (McNeill, 2001). The automobile, as discussed in Chapter 3, initially seen as a means of societal transformation, has ultimately contributed to one of humanity’s biggest environmental challenges: anthropogenic global warming. The unintended consequences of societal changes are by definition difficult to foresee. Nevertheless, the knowledge that all deliberate transformations entail surprises, probably both positive and negative, cannot keep us from action. Policymakers and practitioners should be mindful of unavoidable surprises, and conduct ongoing reflexive evaluations and inclusive forward-looking deliberations that enable stakeholder and public engagement to enhance foresight capacity and societal agility. In the narratives of smooth transformations, the unintended consequences are rarely touched on – quite naturally, as they are unintentional. Yet, the literature on socio-ecological systems reminds us that any attempts to govern transformation must start by fostering adaptiveness, creativity, and innovativeness (Westley et al., 2011),

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precisely because socio-ecological system changes are full of surprises and system interactions over time are inherently too complex to fully monitor or control. Should transformation be a top-down, government-led process or should it start from the bottom in the sense of local communities, grassroots movements, and engaged individuals that, like the organisations and individuals active in the abolition of slavery, create momentum for change that current power interests cannot ignore? We conclude that the most viable governance for most major societal transformations relies on hybrid arrangements, in which state and non-state actors, such as businesses, public–private partnerships, civil society organisations, community initiatives, local and regional actors, are orchestrated and supported by decisions and institutions at the local, national, and international levels. This is the case in the Paris Agreement, which relies on initiatives and co-ordination between all these levels of actors (Kuyper et al., 2018) guided by an overarching narrative of climate neutrality. 8.2 The System Boundaries of Transformations Transformation is systemic change. Consequently, we need to ask what system or systems sustainability transformations should address the whole of human civilisation, entire cultures, or, for example, isolated energy or transport systems? If a transformation is targeting fair distribution in a decarbonised global political economy, the barriers to it are obviously radically different than if it entails only the demonstration and diffusion of certain renewable energy technologies. In this distinction lies the fundamental political and ideological point of contention. Certainly, there are vast untapped technological potentials, but with rebound effects, a rapidly growing global middle class, and the urgency of other SDGs, these will not be sufficient on their own. More importantly, after assessing academic, public, and political discussions around the world, we believe it is too reductive to make the required mega-transformation into a question merely of overcoming barriers to existing technologies and policy instruments. 8.3 The Pace of Transformations When considering the temporal side of transformation, we need to distinguish two aspects: first, the time frame of the transformation and, second, the pace required for the process to realise the transformation. Compared with the historical examples, with few exceptions, neither the focus groups nor the policy documents apply a longer time horizon for transformation. Most envision transformation within a few decades, ranging from a ten-year perspective in Guangzhou to that of most policy documents, which target 2030 or 2050. A common

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argument made in most focus groups was that it is too difficult to envisage changes occurring too far in the future. A recurrent sense-making strategy was to draw analogies to previous societal changes that the focus group participants or policymakers had experienced themselves. In this way, the sense-making resources influenced the transformational time frame. The longer time perspective is mostly apparent in the call for education and learning, which are frequently promoted in low- and middle-income countries as engines of change with long-term effects, as well as in the intergenerational emphasis evident in many of the focus groups. Our exploration also shows that it is important to consider the pace of the transformation process. In our study, we see actors ranging from those who seek ruptural change to those seeking protracted, evolutionary transformation. We see approaches ranging from taking quantum leaps through sudden, disruptive change to gradual and piecemeal changes that can instigate larger-scale changes slowly, but surely, in a societal snowball effect. We find views ranged all along the time scale, from those holding that major radical transformations require sudden disruptions, either because of planetary urgency (e.g., Schellnhuber et al., 2016) or social theory assumptions on what radical breaks with power structures demand (e.g., Wright, 2013), to those holding that piecemeal steps to reform current systems will eventually build momentum for a general transformation to sustainability (e.g., Levin et al., 2012). Frequent arguments for the latter are either that a ‘big bang’ approach is unrealistic considering the complexity of societal transformations or that sudden shifts risk precluding democratic processes of deliberation. 8.4 Drivers of Change How can change be influenced? We identified various drivers in our analysis of the policy and media texts and in the focus groups. Visions, values, political leadership, public engagement, and communication were all suggested to be directional drivers of change. Political decisions, institutional change, rules and practices for economic exchange, technological development, education, story telling (including art, performances, and literature), and lifestyle change have also been forwarded as enabling drivers. Lifestyle changes usually come across as a second-order driver enabled by political decisions, awareness-raising activities, and education. Economic changes encompass a broad range of actions, such as green finance initiatives and circular economy incentives, as well as measures targeting the politicaleconomic order both within countries and globally. Specifically, our analysis identifies four interventions that are particularly pertinent for sustainability transformations that spans across societies: technological innovations, political

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economy redistribution, transformative learning, and contriving new narratives of sustainable societies. 8.4.1 Technology In all five case studies and in the international reports and reviews, the innovation and diffusion of renewable and resource-efficient technologies were essential parts of transformations, particularly of energy production and consumption. Especially in low- and middle-income countries, the solutions involved social and cultural processes as well. As most of the research literature on sustainability transformations has originated in the Global North, largely focusing on the technology-driven transformation of high-income and major emerging economies, it risks overlooking what could be learned from broader experiences outside Europe and North America, such as ways of forging inclusive community processes and collective narratives, as well as the importance of cultural expressions and of shifting mindsets. Several low- and middleincome countries have outlined visions of how institutions, governance practices, power relationships, gender structures, and mindsets all play roles in transformation. That said, virtually no previous major societal transformation has occurred without technological change. That does not mean that transformations per definition are impossible without technological innovations, but that they are unlikely. The IPCC generally assumes that considerable future technological development will contribute to the achievement of the Paris targets. The IPCC’s fifth assessment report concluded that ‘the use of improved and new technologies is an inherent element of society’s transformation’ (Clarke et al., 2014:466). The special report on limiting warming to 1.5°C concluded ‘with high confidence’ that the ‘system transition’ needed to meet the temperature target includes ‘widespread adoption of new and possibly disruptive technologies and practices and enhanced climate-driven innovation’ (Masson-Delmotte et al., 2018:24). When the sustainable development context, including poverty eradication, was included in the ambitions, behavioural change was added to the equation in order to reach the same level of confidence (Masson-Delmotte et al., 2018). However, the question is to what extent transformations hinge on new technological innovations. There is a long-standing debate on whether we have the technology to reach the estimated 450 ppm CO2 equivalent level that is required to keep the world in the vicinity of the 2°C target (Clarke et al., 2014; Pielke, 2010). The conclusions depend, of course, on how we expect societies to evolve, and on how the transformations unfold. If we expect little public and political support for deliberate, transformative low-carbon actions that entail considerably lower economic growth or lower global energy demand, then deep decarbonisation will be impossible without the drastically increased deployment and spread of new energy

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technologies (Pielke, 2010). But, if we expect other priorities to unfold as part of a shift or transformation in perspective, fewer disruptive technology innovations might be required. The possibility of meeting any concentration goal therefore depends not just on the available technologies and current emissions and concentrations, but also on the capacity of human societies to bear the associated economic implications, accept the associated rapid and large-scale deployment of technologies, develop the necessary institutions to manage the transformation, and reconcile the transformation with other policy priorities such as sustainable development. (Clarke et al., 2014:490)

The less we succeed in such integrated transformations outlined by the IPCC authors, the more we will have to rely on new technological innovations, and vice versa. For several decades, the world has experienced the spontaneous decarbonisation of the economy in terms of the amount of GDP produced per tonne of CO2. Yet, even though we have experienced the rapid spread of new technologies, energyefficient and low-carbon technologies are hardly likely to develop by themselves, but will require broad-based innovation (Pielke & Linnér, 2019) emerging from considerable efforts and investments in research, demonstration, development, and deployment, infrastructure, support and training, and market legislation and regulation (Linnér & Rayner, 2015; Pielke, 2010). As technology permeates society, changes in technological practices must be part of transformations, which is not to say that the changes must be driven by technological innovations. The historical example of the great European transformation shows that there is no consensus on technology as its principal drivers. Over a quarter of a century ago, Michael Grubb et al. (1991:911) emphasised that ‘limiting emissions is not just a matter of technology and costs, but of culture, institutions and politics in the broadest sense’. As such, they captured the scope of societal transformation necessary to fundamentally address climate change. Since then, technology, the economy, institutions, and politics have been widely discussed, but culture is still strikingly absent from many propositions for societal transformations towards sustainability. The answer to the question ‘Do we have all the technology that we need?’ always involves first asking another question: ‘What kind of world do we want?’ 8.4.2 Political Economy Several authors have noted the transformative potential of the SDGs, but also concluded that they still fall short of addressing the power and participation aspects

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involved in spurring fundamental societal transformation (e.g., Kanie & Biermann, 2017). Casey Stevens and Norichika Kanie (2016:396) concluded that, although the SDGs bear the ‘seeds of transformation . . . inclusiveness is given rhetorical mention, but concrete efforts to deal with political inequality or to include people in the process is limited’. The political economy concerns the relationships between the state and the market, which influence how governments and institutions interact with production and trade actors as well as how income, wealth, and both material and non-material resources are distributed (Caporaso & Levine, 1992; Gilpin, 2016). Analysing the political economy thus involves ‘the study of struggle, or the processes by which some actors benefit from particular systems or processes at the exclusion of others’ (Sovacool & Linnér, 2015:18). Consequently, any study of societal transformations needs to look at how systemic changes create winners and losers, considering ‘who gets what, why and with what consequences’ (Castree, 2010:1734). The processes of societal transformation unavoidably create relative winners and losers both within and across countries. The importance of just transformations for public support receives increased attention not only among countries in the periphery and semi-periphery of the global economic order, but also, for example, labour unions and EU member states. The transformation strategies of many of the low- and middle-income countries discussed here illustrate how these countries have struggled to respond to the impediments and opportunities of their geographical conditions and their positions in the global economic order. Different geopolitical circumstances as well as political-economic positions and trajectories essentially affect our priorities and abilities to cope with and influence sustainability transformations. Any societal transformations will have political-economic effects on the distribution of wealth and power. In addition, well-intentioned efforts to cope with environmental change and create resilience in societies can inadvertently or covertly enforce inequalities (Sovacool & Linnér, 2015). Global societal transformations will always have to address the power structures of the world. We share the same boat – planet Earth – but are not on the same deck geopolitically or in political-economic terms. 8.4.3 Transformative Learning Changing the world is about governing the ungovernable, imagining the unimaginable. Fundamental to all approaches to transformation is learning from world history, considering transformative goals from around the world and how people cope with emergent transformation and seize opportunities arising from cultural, environmental, political-economic, and political changes. To paraphrase Robert

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Louis Flood (2002:1), a learning society is one that continuously expands its capacity to create its own future. Rather than a fixed blueprint, handbook, or action programme for transformation to achieve the ultimate sustainable world, the 2030 Agenda is inspirational, and this is as it should be. There are several reasons for this: we have unclear control over historical processes; nature surprises us constantly; priorities within and across societies around the world differ, and their values shift over time. Consequently, adaptive learning is fundamental, not only to a person’s or organisation’s transformational journey, but to the transformation of entire societies. It is to such learning that we hope this book will contribute. Transformative learning processes are the outcome of individuals or organisations facing a disorienting dilemma – that is, a problem causing confusion to the extent that it triggers awareness that their sense-making about how the world works needs to change. This realisation may in turn incite them to seek ways to resolve this disorientation, for example, by reflecting on assumptions, seeking new knowledge, exploring new roles, setting new courses of action, and integrating new perspectives. Transformative learning not only entails revising what was previously taken for granted as well as changing our frames of reference (Boström et al., 2018), it ultimately involves epistemological change, shifting meaning perspectives (Howie & Bagnall, 2013; Mezirow, 2000). ‘In transformative learning not only do we change our meanings; we change the very form by which we make meanings’ (Boström et al., 2018:6). This shift in sense-making may take the form of a quantum leap or may be incremental. Transformative learning may be instrumental, that is, learning how things function, but it may also be communicative, that is, learning about the relationships emerging from communication between individuals and groups about how they make sense of the world. A historical analogy sheds light on the need for transformative learning. The struggle to understand the Great European Transformation gave rise to new disciplines, such as sociology, ‘as an attempt to understand the direction of change’ (Abrams, 1972:18). Philip Abrams, who analysed the historical development of sociology, even argued that ‘the generation that gave birth to sociology was probably the first generation of human beings ever to have experienced within the span of their own lifetime socially induced change of a totally transformative nature – change which could not be identified, explained and accommodated as a limited historical variation within the encompassing order of the past’ (Abrams, 1972:22). Just as the nineteenth-century transformations gave rise to new disciplines, we see the same today with the surge of interest in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge production on societal transformation processes. This

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development is aligned with the transformation as co-creation narrative discussed in Chapter 6. It is based on the realisation that, to address complex system sustainability challenges, such as the interaction between climate change; sociotechnical change; food, energy, and water security; geopolitics; and public health, a broader approach is needed than single scientific disciplines can deliver. Consequently, we see a surge for integrating disciplines across the natural science/social science/engineering/humanities boundaries and involving stakeholders and publics in co-creating knowledge (e.g., Hackmann & Moser, 2013; Kuenkel, 2019; Mauser et al., 2013). The need for transdisciplinarity in order to understand and support transformational change coincides with a heightened interest in societal dialogue, a matter to which we will shortly return. 8.4.4 Narratives While narratives can obscure the complexity of systemic change by simplifying chains of events, the opposite can also be true. Through analogies and metaphors, narratives can bring shape, even order, to abstract and complex relationships without shying away from acknowledging the entangled processes of systemic change. In this respect, we see narratives as key sense-making resources. In particular, diverse narratives are needed to complement one another when it comes to a sustainable development, as illustrated by the five narratives discussed in this book: transformation as a journey, a building process, a war, co-creation, and recuperation. Narratives are essential for nurturing and guiding transformative processes (Kuenkel, 2019). After 200 years of a development narrative of prevailing economic growth based on abundant fossil energy and natural resources, societies need new narratives to inspire societal development towards sustainability. In the words of Leggewie and Messner (2012:4), ‘without changed narratives, guiding principles or meta-narrations which will redefine the future of economy and society, there can be no shaping of the Great Transformation’. As mentioned in the introduction to this book, in its VNR of its 2030 Agenda efforts, Switzerland specifically used the concept of narrative in describing the society necessary for achieving the SDGs. The SDGs are embedded in a narrative of transformative change, which is needed to realise a common vision of ending poverty in all its forms and of promoting social inclusion and universal human development that respects human dignity, human rights, and planetary boundaries. The SDGs apply to all countries equally. Economic, social, and environmental aspects are taken into account in a balanced way and themes such as peaceful societies, rule of law, and governance, which are fundamental to sustainable development, are also addressed. (UN, 2016a:12)

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After scrutinising the core narratives of the sustainability transformation discourse, we conclude that narratives can act as bridges between the personal, political, and practical spheres of transformation. They can provide a language articulating and reflecting on desired futures that can challenge us to rethink our taken-for-granted views of what is possible to change – personally, practically, and politically. The narratives in themselves do not cause the practical change; rather, they guide the values and priorities which situate actions into a broader story of society that goes beyond specific sectors and individual endeavours. Transformation narratives often included analogies to earlier deliberate transformations, such as women’s rights or the experiences of countries rising out of poverty, which inspired actors that change was indeed possible. The core metaphors encapsulating the narratives examined in Chapter 6 – transformation as a journey, a building process, a war, co-creation, and recuperation – do not primarily focus on the goal of transformation. Even though they relate to different intended objectives, they primarily describe the very processes of transformation. We find this telling for the essence of sense-making about transformation. The conundrum of transformation, in which linguistic resources are mostly needed to make sense of the phenomenon, concerns the processes whereby we can hope to instigate and influence transformation, the process of societal change, rather than elaborating on the end state as such. The transformation narratives’ focus on process, rather than on the implied end point, recalls previous discussions of the concept of sustainable development as a process versus end state, with some using sustainability to refer to the product but reserving sustainable development to refer to the process, whereas others use the terms synonymously (Holden et al., 2014; Hopwood et al., 2005). The narratives discussed in Chapter 6 highlight different aspects of transformative change, each having characteristic strengths and weaknesses in terms of spurring engagement. The war narrative, for instance, builds on a conflict framing and may downplay collaboration, but it also speaks of the necessity of mobilisation and working in solidarity towards a common goal. The journey metaphor can, on one hand, be criticised for obscuring the goal of transformation by overemphasising the journey itself; on the other hand, this is also a way of emphasising that societies will constantly need to work towards sustainability and not cease striving to create just societies. As such, the different core narratives may address somewhat different audiences, forming part of a palette of complementary transformation models. As important as narratives can be for fostering dialogue and in providing resources for sense-making, they can also be used to close democratic discussions and exclude alternative narratives. ‘War fever is the enemy of democratic transformations’ to paraphrase Hochschild’s (2005:236) quote on why abolition reforms

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were halted during the Napoleonic wars. The war narrative could similarly be used to squelch discussion, socially repress dissident voices, or justify more authoritarian decision-making. For example, calls for declaring a state of climate emergency can be a pedagogical device for raising awareness and push political commitment. However, a state of emergency is also used by governments to suspend constitutionally regulated procedures. As such, it is not only a risky concept because of its metaphorical use, but may quite literary open for undemocratic solutions, which in our view will be detrimental to the transformative visions of the 2030 Agenda and the inclusive society envisioned in many of our focus groups, in many policy documents, and the transformation literature. Similarly, if the conviction is that only one way is the right way to sustainability, the journey narrative can close the exchange of ideas in open dialogue. 8.4.5 Perspective Change Narratives and transformative learning are essential to encourage ‘perspective transformation’ (Mezirow, 2000). In particular, adult education theories of transformative learning emphasise that perspective transformation hinges on changes in how we understand ourselves, through reviewing our worldviews or belief systems, and on making behavioural changes. This can be done through intentional, analytical processes to support reflection on our cultural, social, and personal premises – for example, by reflecting on the symbolic content of our more or less unconscious assumptions, and by deliberate actions that help us redefine our world (Mezirow, 1991). Although this book primarily addresses societal transformations, and as such does not specifically address sense-making in the vast literature on personal or organisational transformations, we see the ‘inner dimension of sustainability’ (Horlings, 2015) or transformation in the personal sphere (O’Brien, 2018) as essential to transformations towards sustainability, meriting further studies in the years to come. This inner dimension of sustainability centres on beliefs, values, and worldviews that indicate what is most important to people, what they cherish, and what they prioritise. As such, they influence people’s views of the political sphere and of what practical solutions are deemed possible (Hedlund-de Witt, 2012; Horlings, 2015; O’Brien & Sygna, 2013). Transformation in the personal sphere relates to transformation from the inside–out (Horlings, 2015; O’Brien & Sygna, 2013), which is ‘a psycho–social process involving the unleashing of human potential to commit, care and effect change for a better life, or an internal shift that results in long-lasting changes in the way that one experiences and relates to oneself, others, and the world’ (O’Brien & Sygna, 2013:16).

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As seen in previous chapters, some of the policy documents explicitly mentioned the need for transformations in the personal sphere, such as Fiji’s Green Growth Framework, highlighting the need for ‘a paradigm shift in thinking’ (Republic of Fiji, 2014:11–12), or the Gambia’s (UNFCCC, 2015b) or Papua New Guinea’s (UNFCCC, 2015x) NDCs, emphasising the need for shifts in mindsets and attitudes. The high-level panel’s background report to the 2030 Agenda identified the importance of forging a new global partnership through changing mindsets, attitudes, relationships, and behaviour, as well as through altering worldviews, ‘profoundly and dramatically’ (UN, 2013a:10). Similarly, in the focus groups, the preconditions for transformation in the personal sphere were a recurring theme. Thus, our understanding of how we can change the world from a societal transformation point of view would have much to learn from the literature on personal and organisational transformative learning. This is something that we see as a necessary, useful, and promising avenue for future studies. However, even though the focus group participants and policy documents emphasised the role of values and shifting mindsets in practical transformation, they did not see ‘change of heart’ or enhanced knowledge as the exclusive drivers of change. Government regulations are generally also a vital driver inciting and sustaining transformational change. Again, we see how the personal, political, and practical spheres of transformation are interconnected (cf. O’Brien & Sygna, 2013). 8.5 Dialogues Regardless of whether we identify visions as an important driver of change or just as reflecting pre-existing experiences, the focus group participants stressed the empowering role of visions and value preferences and, moreover, called for platforms for dialogue about them. Dialogue is at the core of the type of ‘clumsy institutions’ needed for the governance of sustainability transformations: Clumsy institutions are those institutional arrangements in which none of the voices – the hierarchical call for ‘wise guidance and careful stewardship’, the individualistic emphasis on ‘entrepreneurship and technological progress’, the egalitarian insistence that we need ‘a whole new relationship with nature’, and the fatalist’s asking ‘why bother?’ – is excluded, and in which the contestation is harnessed to constructive, if noisy, argumentation. (Verweij et al., 2006:839)

As our analyses have repeatedly demonstrated, there can be no one-size-fits-all model of societal conversations about sustainability transformations. Context- and culture-specific dimensions always need to be taken into account. We believe, however, that some more general lessons can be learned from the rapidly growing

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research field of science communication, particularly from the sub-fields of environmental and climate change communication that are relevant, not least to spurring sustainability transformations in the personal sphere. For example, the science communication literature contains numerous explorations of dialogical and participatory communication approaches in response to the long-standing criticism of linear transmission communication models, which are often seen to hamper engagement with sustainability issues. Yet, surprisingly many communication efforts are in practice still informed by a one-way ‘deficit’ model of communication (Ballantyne, 2016). This is problematic since, as we saw in our analysis of historical transformations, complex problems rarely have simple solutions. There may be simultaneous transformation goals, as well as numerous actors and multiple drivers of and barriers to transformative changes. Rather than simplifying the message in communication about sustainability transformations, it is therefore pertinent to find forms of dialogue that allow people to test, develop, and sometimes re-examine their arguments. Here, for example, we could take inspiration from one of our case studies, from characteristic features of the talanoa tradition prevalent in Fiji and other Pacific Island states: empathy, inclusion, listening, learning, reconciliation, and mutual respect (Farrelly & Nabobo-Baba, 2014; Halapua, 2008; Robinson & Robinson, 2005). By providing a platform for respectfully learning from the different perspectives in a community, ‘talanoa embraces our worldviews of how we can and ought to live and work together collectively, and relate to one another as members of society’ (Halapua, 2008:1–2). Another insight of importance for communication about sustainability transformations is that fear provides a poor impetuous for long-term change. It rarely works as a constructive driving force in the long run (e.g., O’Neill & Nicholson-Cole, 2009). Instead, we need to increase efforts to create societal dialogue about visions and guidelines for sustainable transformations. It may well be that doom-andgloom messaging is a successful communication strategy in the short term for getting sustainability issues on the agenda, and thus making partial gains in the form of legislation and agreements. Messages intended to induce distress can initially raise awareness of the seriousness of the subject in focus. However, if we want to be successful in creating preparedness and support in open democratic societies for long-term social, economic, and environmentally sustainable social change, we have to rely on other communication strategies. Communication that for a long time continues to be organised around worst-case scenarios and disaster messages may instead lead to a backlash. Rather than inspiring motivation and action, such communication can lead to indifference and inaction. Reviews of the research literature indicate that constructive, actionoriented, and solution-oriented messages are perceived as more relevant, useful,

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and engagement-creating (Ballantyne, 2016; O’Neill & Nicholson-Cole, 2009; Wibeck, 2014b). This of course does not mean that we should downplay the seriousness of the challenges facing societies today, whether from environmental or climate change, poverty, food insecurity, or geopolitical tensions. As noted by environmental psychologist Maria Ojala (2012, 2015), we need to distinguish between constructive hope that facilitates engagement and gives people ‘the strength needed to face the threat at hand and search for solutions’ (Ojala, 2012:636), and hope based on denial, which minimises the seriousness of problems, externalises responsibility, and likely results in inaction – quite the opposite of transformation. Of course, as illustrated by the examples throughout this book, the world needs urgent and concrete actions. If we are to achieve long-term change, outlasting one or several terms of political office, we should cultivate constructively hopeful, inspiring, and creative narratives. Rather than polarising stories of simplistic solutions, we need a multitude of examples and intensified discussions of how to create a more dialogue-oriented communication environment characterised by constructive talks about visions and narratives of a sustainable, inclusive society and ways to get there. The more extensive and elaborated narratives on sustainability transformations found in the media texts and policy documents often originated from the Global South, with some exceptions, such as the and the EU commission's long-term climate strategy and some of the VNRs of the SDGs. From countries in the Global South we also found quite a few practical examples of dialogue-oriented processes that could serve as inspiration beyond these particular countries and contexts, such as the cocreation exercises for post-apartheid planning in South Africa and post-war planning in Colombia discussed in Chapter 7, or the talanoa approach used in reconciliation processes and to shape the way forwards after the coup in Fiji in 2000 (Halapua, 2008). Whereas these interventions were, of course, both shaped by and designed to fit their particular cultural contexts, what they have in common is a recognition of the untenability of the present situation, and of the importance of listening to and learning from others’ perspectives, while not avoiding difficult issues stemming from the conflicts that prompted the interventions in the first place. These and other examples discussed throughout this book can serve as inspiration not least for high-income countries in the Global North, as we now need to respond to ongoing transformations while also striving for deep cultural-scale sustainability transformations. 8.6 Transformation as Utopian Thought The metaphors characterising the narratives that emerged in our analysis primarily addressed the process rather than the goals of transformation. How the goals are

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formulated is nevertheless essential for how the pathways are imagined. The many proposals for particular transformations need guiding narratives that relate to the big picture, such as the 2030 Agenda’s holistic, global-scale, ambitions. The imagined goals of transformations may not be realistic today, but that is essentially the point. Utopian thinking (Kumar 1990) offers a logic of setting the sights apparently unachievably high, but in so doing forces consideration of a wider range of choices that need to be made to confront the root causes of unsustainability. For example, achieving the Paris Agreement’s call for rapid emission reductions ‘as soon as possible’, to be achieved equitably, sustainably, and while eradicating poverty, calls for systemic changes in production and consumption patterns, which requires leapfrogging in technological innovation, social organisation, and lifestyle changes (e.g., Steffen et al., 2018). The span of transformative actions is restricted but not made impossible by technological, infrastructural, economic, institutional, and cultural path dependencies that can create lock-ins. Utopian thought, if not taken as an authoritarian blueprint, can be one way to think beyond these lock-ins, and to address what would be needed to unlock them. Setting goals that are utopian, given today’s technology, has an important function. Consider the Swedish ‘Vision Zero’ to avoid traffic deaths, which was derided as utopian when first introduced and criticised for being unrealistic. However, traffic researchers Matts-Åke Belin et al. (2012, 2014) have demonstrated that setting seemingly unrealistic goals was in itself politically advantageous. Vision Zero established a new paradigm for Swedish road safety policy and planning, as it did not refer to the present situation to see what was possible, but was instead guided by the question: What must be done? Starting with the desired goal of zero traffic fatalities, the planners backcasted what had to be done in terms of organisation, awareness raising, regulations, and infrastructure development. The Vision Zero policy has been successful in, for example, increasing public awareness of the nature of the problems, focusing attention and priorities within key institutions, rallying more organisations to co-ordinate their work, highlighting the extent of action needed, and putting pressure on actors to increase their efforts (Belin et al., 2012, 2014). As such, the policy can be seen as a targeted, niche innovation in policymaking that may transform the Swedish road transport system in the long run. That remains to be seen. The point here is that the discussion of what needs to be done to achieve the inspirational visions of the 2030 Agenda and other aspirations for sustainable development can be transformative in a similar way, if we ask what needs to be done to attain a decarbonised society, rather than what can be done at present. Utopian thinking can offer one leverage mechanism for envisioning new pathways that could escape from path dependency and unfetter societal ingenuity. The word ‘utopia’, as popularised by Thomas More in 1516, combines the Greek words

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for ‘no place’ and ‘good place’ – that is, the ideal good place is also a non-existent place. Utopia is located at the frontier of our imagination, where new narratives are formed and where we start to imagine the previously unimaginable. Many of the visions of mega-transformations resemble what Krishan Kumar (1999) calls ‘utopia proper’. They provide narratives of hypothetical good societies and how they operate. In contrast, broader utopian thought provides visionary expressions of ‘specific codes of morality and preferred pathways for transformation’ (Hjerpe & Linnér, 2012:161). Here we find many of the ideas of particular and protracted change. In the last decade, interest has grown in using utopian visions to break with simply extrapolating from what is currently possible to achieve (Hjerpe & Linnér, 2012). Anthony Giddens (2009:12) has explained the power of utopian thought, noting that Reverend Martin Luther King did not inspire a successful civil rights movement by exclaiming ‘I have a nightmare!’ Visions, seemingly unattainable at the present, carry the seeds for revitalising our political thinking. Here, the role of utopian thinking would be to provide tangible depictions of life in a future sustainable society, rather than merely abstract formulations (Kumar, 2003). However, visions in themselves must be tangible. Cognitive research demonstrates that ‘experience is essential for any understanding of the mind’ (Crowell & Reid-Marr, 2013:4, Thompson, 2007). Utopian thought needs to use concrete examples or experiments in processing and developing thinking about future societies. Consequently, experimentation in particular transformations are important as potential catalysts, as discussed in Chapter 7, and examples such as the solar revolution, the sharing economy, or concrete experiments on how we can cook food that is produced within our fair share of 2,000 square metres of agricultural land (e.g., www.rosendalstradgard.se) are critical for thinking about macro-transformation as well. 8.7 Never-Ending Stories of Transformation Narratives and utopias may inspire, but can they really help Fiji counter the geopolitical interests threatening its waters, or help Cabo Verdeans change the political-economic structures threatening to destroy the livelihoods of its fishing community? How much can societal transformations be influenced by visions, dialogues, and narratives, and how much is it shaped by material entities, modes of production and environmental conditions? Cultural transformations are generally locked in place by concurrent shifts in resource access and modes of power. We are not arguing that new narratives are sufficient in themselves for inciting major societal transformation to sustainability, but they are a necessary condition for it.

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As discussed in Chapter 3, materialist explanations of transformations are fundamental. However, Clifford Geertz (1993) and others have convincingly noted, in the words of historian William H. Sewell Jr (2005:189), ‘the inescapable complementarity of the “material” and the “ideal” in the human condition’. Taking account of both the embeddedness of culture in material conditions and, conversely, the irreducibility of culture to material practices helps us focus on cultural expressions without the risk of becoming mere naive ‘idealists’. One of Geertz’s important contributions was to identify the dual function of symbols as models for and of reality: symbols both produce reality, such as the roles expected of men and women, as well as reflecting this perceived reality, but may also offer new ways to make sense of the world. Yet, this circular reinforcement still does not explain how societal change occurs. Societal transformations require disruption, a gap between the model of and for reality ‘that opens up for actors a space for critical reflection about the world’ (Sewell Jr, 2005:190). This disjunction can emerge through changes in material conditions and/or the influx of new cultural influences leading to changes over time. In Logics of History, Sewell Jr (2005) elaborates on theories of how structural change and social transformation can occur. In times of structural dislocation, ordinary routines of social life are open to doubt, the sanctions of existing power relations are uncertain or suspended, and new possibilities are thinkable. In ordinary times, cultural schemas, arrays of resources and modes of power are bound into self-reproducing streams of structured social action. But in times of dislocation . . . resources are up for grabs, cultural logics are elaborated more freely and applied to new circumstances, and modes of power are extended to unforeseen social fields. (Sewell Jr, 2005:250–251)

So, transformation to sustainability also requires major fundamental changes in economic and social policies. This takes time and can hardly be initiated without popular support to create the necessary cultural and social conditions. Niche developments, leading examples, and opportunities for social learning can make important contributions. The ultimate goal needs to be fundamental change in the cultural preferences underpinning the global political economy, shifting away from unregulated, unrenewable consumerism and exploitive capitalism that are not only barriers to, but, in fact, detrimental to transforming the world sustainably. We know that our attempts to transform the world will not deliver as originally planned. The world system’s interactions are far too complex and dynamic for us to be able to control the transformative processes. Nevertheless, making transformative efforts sets us on a path. If there is one thing we can learn from historical analogies, it is that transformation is never finished, but is ongoing. Faced with unprecedented global environmental change and a culturally and socially rapidly

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changing world, our societies will undoubtedly be transformed in this century, meaning that coming generations will experience the transformation of societies worldwide. The looming question is whether this transformation will be formed by visions and deliberate actions to spur sustainability, or the inevitable outcome of disruptions caused by mounting environmental degradation and social conflicts. To effectively influence transformational change, governance needs to combine the practical, political, and personal aspects of societal change. Through dialogues, learning, and experimentation, we have the possibility to initiate change while being more adaptive. By making constant efforts to change the global political economy, we have a chance to influence transformation in a more sustainable trajectory. Ross Gillard et al. (2016:256) and many others have reminded us: in the end, ‘responding to climate change should be seen not as a technical problem to be managed away but as an opportunity to radically rethink and rebuild social, ecological, and economic relations’. Despite deep differences on goals, agents, and drivers of transformations, we found a shared realisation of profound predicaments facing societies around the world, and a desire for fundamental change towards sustainable development. The awareness of an unsustainable situation and the common aspiration to participate in the solutions are essential elements of transformational reconciliation processes (Kahane, 2012). Any transformation to sustainable development in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda must have a broader societal as well as a planetary outlook, encompassing how our own parts of the system are integrated with other societies around the planet and with its ecological systems. We can only meaningfully understand sustainability transformation in our own lives, in our own cities and countries, ‘by contemplating the whole of which we are an integral part’ (Flood, 2002:2). This insight from systems thinking has guided our ambition to consider how transformations are made sense of elsewhere. From these stories of transformations, we can learn from one another to rethink our desired futures and possible ways to get there.

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Index

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 3, 63, 64, 77–81, 112, 123, 126, 135, 155, 165 A New Global Partnership, 80, 93, 132, 135, 136, 192 abolition of slavery, 23, 33, 44, 45, 53–55, 129, 150, 183 adaptive governance, 173, 174 African Development Bank, 3, 84, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 158 agency, 39, 40, 97, 98, 106, 126, 133, 168, 170, 175, 176 Agrarian Revolution, 26, 29 agriculture, 26, 27, 30, 33, 78, 79, 83, 84, 87, 96, 152, 172 allegories, 6 amalgamation, 24, 107, 120, 134, 182 apocalypse, 140 art, 23, 143, 180, 184 artificial intelligence, 7, 38 attitudes, 80, 88, 104, 116, 127, 132, 155, 192 Australia, 65, 162 authority, 29, 50, 116, 173 automobility, 23, 40–44, 55, 150, 182 autonomous vehicles, 37–39 Bacon, Roger, 27 Bangladesh, 81, 87, 163 Barbados, 48, 49 Belize, 84, 88 biodiversity, 78, 82, 114, 147 biotechnology, 156 Bolivia, 82, 84, 100 Boulder, CO, 7, 19, 21, 94, 115–122, 127, 141 Brazil, 45, 53, 54, 177 British Empire, 45, 46, 50, 53 buen vivir, 85, 171 Burkina Faso, 87 Burundi, 87

226

Cabo Verde, 7, 95–101 Agenda for Transformation, 86, 96–98 Campbell, Joseph, 125 Canada, 65, 66, 163, 174 capitalism, 26, 28, 29, 35, 36, 45, 47, 48, 56, 59, 66, 82, 84, 85, 89, 91, 92, 151, 153, 177, 187, 197 carbon capture and storage, 87, 91, 165 categorisation, 13, 15, 18, 20, 73 Chicago, 41 Chile, 177 China, 101–107 13th Five Year Plan, 101, 106 China dream, 103 one belt, one road, 102 civil campaigns, 47 civil society, 33, 56, 66, 76, 80, 85, 86, 88, 90, 124, 133, 137, 169, 172, 173, 183 Clarkson, Thomas, 50 climate engineering, 42 climate policy, 88, 92, 104, 108, 113, 114, 176 climate politics, 56, 103 cloud computing, 37 clumsy solutions, 182 collapse, 23, 24, 36, 58, 74, 75, 120, 121, 134, 140, 161, 181 Colombia, 172, 194 communism, 66 complex systems, 181, 182 consumer behaviour, 163, 168 consumerism, 197 consumption, 23, 32, 73, 74, 78, 81, 83, 86, 87, 101, 104, 107, 120, 127, 135, 154, 155, 164, 168, 171, 185, 195 Cook Islands, 87, 163 COP 15, 68, 75 COP 21, 68, 109, 125 COP 22, 19, 70, 72 Copenhagen, 68, 72, 73, 75 cosmopolitanism, 40

Index Costa Rica, 89, 158 Cuba, 45, 49, 53, 54 decarbonisation, 54, 56, 70, 72, 84, 112, 115, 120, 181 decision-making, 108, 111, 116, 129, 155, 156, 162, 172, 173 deliberation, 138, 139, 158 democracy, 8, 73, 85, 86, 107, 155, 158, 168, 169, 177, 184, 193 demographics, 66 Denmark, 90 descriptive–analytical research, 8, 9, 91 dialogism, 193 dialogue, 11, 101, 108, 137, 138, 143, 150, 169, 178, 182, 189, 192–194, 196, 198 Diehl, Paul F., 151, 152, 156, 161 digitalisation, 72 disorienting dilemma, 188 Dominica, 89 drivers of change, 25, 34, 59, 75, 77, 86, 88, 106, 115, 181, 184 directional, 76, 138, 184 enabling, 75, 184 Durant, Robert F., 151 Dutch Surinam, 53 ecological limits, 157, 169, 189 economic world order, 92 economy circular economy, 38, 39, 113, 171, 184 global economy, 97, 100, 120, 148 green economy, 76, 135 Ecuador, 84, 85, 89, 92, 139, 168 Egypt, 73, 76, 87 electrification, 41, 43, 44 empowerment, 74, 78, 123, 141, 167, 169, 171 energy systems, 72, 83, 89, 154, 156 engines of change, 23, 92, 107, 112, 115, 119, 121, 122, 184, See drivers of change enlightenment, 30, 45, 49 entrepreneurship, 30, 45, 73, 76, 170, 173, 192 environmental change, 4, 6, 21, 63, 89, 147, 148, 154, 167, 174, 176, 187, 197 environmental protection, 79, 80, 86, 116 equality, equity, 45, 48, 49, 54, 74, 78, 85, 86, 92, 103, 108, 113, 114, 116, 123, 141, 157 Eritrea, 167 ethics, 82 etymology, 6 European Union, 4, 66, 97, 112, 131 experimentation, 163, 173, 196, 198 fascism, 36 Figueres, Christiana, 125 Fiji, 7, 107–112 green growth framework, 109, 110, 192

227 finance, 31, 64, 87–89, 129, 151, 171, 184 Finland, 90 food security. See security France, 27, 29, 31, 46, 49, 52, 55, 65 French Revolution, 27, 46, 48, 49, 52 future earth, 4, 138 Geertz, Clifford, 197 gender, 74, 89 genetic sequencing and editing, 7, 37 geopolitics, 21, 26, 31, 36, 42, 47, 49, 79, 89, 102, 176, 187, 194, 196 Germany, 3, 51, 65, 77, 88, 92, 140 Giddens, Anthony, 175, 196 global warming, 55, 70, 76, 96, 115, 134, 154, 182 globalisation, 28, 76, 91, 98, 156 governance mechanism, 164, 170 government government regulation, 41, 106, 107, 118, 121, 163 great depression, 36 Great European Transformation, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 188 green economy. See economy Guangzhou, 7, 19, 21, 94, 101–106, 120–122, 127, 139, 170, 183 Guyana, 88 Haiti, 48, 53, 76 Haitian slave revolt, 49 Harré, Rom, 13, 14, 16, 124 health, 41, 42, 56, 98, 99, 100, 105, 113–115, 119, 121, 127, 137, 158, 189 healthcare, 80 high-income countries, 4, 21, 70, 114, 115, 194 horseshit parable, 40 housing, 83, 101, 105 human development, 92, 154, 158, 189 human security. See security incremental change, incrementalism, 4, 5, 73, 111, 147, 154, 161, 178 India, 52, 53, 65, 66, 74, 140 indigenous people, 90 Industrial Revolution, 7, 28–32, 37 fourth, 36–40 industrialisation, 16, 26, 28, 29, 32, 33, 47, 48, 58, 78 industrious revolution, 30 inequality, 3, 77, 78, 97, 103, 114, 124, 134, 135, 187 information and communication technology, 76, 156 infrastructure, 6, 43, 78, 79, 80, 88, 96, 97, 98, 101, 104, 105, 106, 110, 111, 158, 170, 176–178, 180, 195 innovation, 26, 28, 47, 98, 103, 104, 155, 160–162, 163 catalytic, 162 disruptive, 161 social, 24, 173, 174, 182

228 innovation (cont.) technical, 6, 26, 40, 41, 44, 47, 58, 92, 106, 114, 119, 156, 173, 176, 182, 185, 186, 195 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, 81–86, 88–92, 132, 134 international cooperation, 124, 142 international organisations, 154, 156, 164, 168 Internet of Things, 37 interventions, 92, 151, 154, 159, 163, 164, 165, 168, 171, 172, 173, 174, 177, 184 investments, 31, 33, 36, 48, 87, 88, 89, 92, 102, 104, 154, 168, 170, 176 IPCC, 4, 185 Israel, 65 Italy, 88, 92, 155 Jamaica, 48, 49, 53, 54, 72 Japan, 65, 112 Johnson, Mark, 16, 42, 124, 131, 134 Jordan, 70, 84, 87 justice, 49, 56, 78, 81, 82, 86, 103, 113, 114, 131, 139, 154, 157, 169 Ki-Moon, Ban, 63, 80, 81 Kuhn, Thomas, 155 Kumar, Krishan, 29, 32, 196 L’Ouverture, Toussaint, 48 Lakoff, George, 14, 16, 124, 131 language, 3, 12, 14, 16, 72, 85, 130, 143, 175, 190 Lebanon, 84 Leitmotif, 48, 111, 114 Lesotho, 127 leverage mechanisms, 76, 92, 140, 164, 165, 172, 195 leverage points, 23 liberalism, 35, 36 Liberia, 80, 86 lifestyle change, 92, 107, 114, 119, 171, 184, 195 local governments, 56, 169 London, 30, 42, 46, 49, 51, 133 low-carbon transformation, 55, 96, 101, 106, 159 low-income countries, 21, 74, 82, 83, 91, 92, 169, 184, 185, 187 Macron, Emmanuel, 3, 81 macro-transformations. See transformations Malaysia, 84 Malthus, Robert, 36 management, 19, 42, 64, 66, 76, 78, 86, 91, 99, 105, 106, 108, 110, 127, 139, 142, 149, 155, 161–163, 170–172 Manchester, 51 Manhattan, 41 market market incentives, 170 self-regulating, 22, 34, 35–36, 59 unregulated, 28, 36, 197 Meadows, Donella, 57, 155

Index media mass media, 18, 52, 67 Merkel, Angela, 3, 77 Mexico, 127 Micronesia, 83, 98 middle-income countries, 21, 74, 82, 83, 91, 92, 120, 169, 184, 185, 187 Millennium Development Goals, 133, 135 mindsets, 49, 88, 91–93, 111, 112, 132, 138, 150, 155, 185, 192 modernisation/modernity, 22, 28, 32–34, 58, 59 Moldavia, 84 Monrovia, 80 Morocco, 84, 87 nanotechnology, 37, 38 narratives, 171, 189–191 building narrative, 123, 130–134, 140, 142 co-creation narrative, 124, 136, 138, 142, 172, 189 core narratives, 20, 123, 124, 147, 150, 170, 190 journey narrative, 125–130, 133, 135, 140 recuperation narrative, 124, 139, 140 war narrative, 134–136, 142, 190 Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, 85, 163 Neolithic Revolution, 22, 26 Nepal, 82 New Deal, 36, 151 New York, 41, 42, 70, 79, 109, 133 New Zealand, 91 niche spaces, 161, 163, 178 Nigeria, 84, 86, 87, 126, 127, 140, 157 non-governmental organisations, 90, 137 non-linearity, 5, 167 non-state actors, 56, 90, 133, 137, 169, 172 Norway, 55 nudging, 161 Ocean Pathway Partnership, 109 oil dependence, 55 Oman, 70 Oslo, 55 Pakistan, 88 Papua New Guinea, 3, 88, 132, 192 Paris, 3, 70, 109, 113 Paris Climate Agreement, 3, 5, 8, 56, 64, 68, 81–83, 85, 87, 91, 92, 96, 109, 115, 116, 140, 195 path dependency, 6, 154, 165, 195 Pearl River Delta, 21, 94, 101, 104, 107 perspective transformation. See transformations planning, 3, 72, 85, 86, 89, 96, 101, 133, 139, 140, 163, 172, 178, 181, 194, 195 Poland, 65 Polanyi, Karl, 17, 26, 27, 35, 36, 47, 59, 82 political economy, 35, 36, 149, 154, 182, 183, 185, 187, 197, 198 population growth, 25, 26, 59, 182 public–private partnerships, 169, 172, 183

Index Qatar, 55, 70 quantum leap, 8 rare-earth minerals, 176, 177 reconciliation processes, 194, 198 religion, 23, 29, 59, 116, 182 Church of England, 45, 50 Quakers, 50 renewable energy, 42, 87, 99, 102, 119, 154, 156, 170, 176, 177 solar, 87, 88, 97, 113, 151, 156, 165 wind, 88, 97, 113 research and development, 90, 154, 165, 170, 178 resilience, 77–79, 81, 84, 86, 89, 96, 123, 126, 127, 149, 174, 179 Rio de Janeiro, 79 robotics, 38 Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 49 rule of law, 80, 86, 103, 189 Russia, 26, 65, 66, 177 Saudi Arabia, 55, 70 Scientific Revolution, 27, 30 Scotland, 139 second earth, 8, 26 second modernity, 36 sector energy, 82, 83, 87, 88, 120, 151 industrial, 103 mining, 88, 101, 156, 177 services, 107 transport, 82 water, 87, 171 security energy security, 102 food security, 78, 84, 95, 135, 189, 194 human security, 77, 168 social security, 105 self-regulating market. See market sense-making sense-making analysis, 10 sense-making concept, 10 sense-making strategies, 11, 13, 16, 184, 189 signalling transformations, 83 slave trade, 44, 100 Slavery Abolition Act 1833, 46, 53, 130 Slovenia, 90 Smith, Adam, 36, 47 social mobility, 23 social policy, 168 social reproduction, 23 social rights, 168 socialism, 85, 103, 107, 168 solution-oriented research, 9 Somalia, 84, 87 South Africa, 72, 73, 75, 84, 172, 194 South Korea, 77, 92 Soviet Union, 158

229 state, role of, 56, 90, 139, 153, 170, 173, 174, 187 structure, 13, 85, 124, 125, 130, 131, 134, 165, 167, 175, 178 Sustainable Development Goals, 12, 18, 20, 38, 39, 64, 76, 77, 79, 81, 84, 87, 88, 90, 91, 108, 109, 131, 133, 155, 159, 165, 167, 178, 179, 183, 186, 187, 189, 194 Sustainable Transitions Research Network, 5 Sweden, 7, 112–115 climate policy framework, 112–115, 120 Cross-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives, 113 Fossil Free Sweden, 112 Switzerland, 12, 92, 189 system boundaries, 57, 181 systems agriculture, 178 ecological systems, 143 socio-economic systems, 22, 91 socio-technical systems, 6, 22, 91, 161, 163 transport, 79, 177, 195 urban, 178 Talanoa, 150, 156 the Dominican Republic, 86, 89 the Gambia, 82–84, 88, 163, 192 the German Advisory Council on Global Change, 155 tipping points, 154, 163 Togo, 84 trade unions, 90 trade-offs, 155, 167, 178 transdisciplinarity, 188 transformability, 173 transformation civilisational scale, 58, 149, 173, 183 convergent, 8, 152, 154 emergent, 8, 58, 148, 152–154, 176, 179, 182, 187 gradual, 8, 149, 161 macro, 22, 25, 56, 58, 59, 85, 90, 98, 100, 106, 196 particular, 22, 56, 72, 91, 98, 100, 104, 112, 122, 174, 177–179, 195, 196 personal, 154, 178, 191–193 transformative capacity, 150, 169 transition landscape level, 6, 161 niche level, 6 regime level, 6, 161 transition management, 161, 163, 171, 172 Transition Towns, 174 transport public, 41, 44, 104, 117, 119, 151 sector. See sector system. See systems Trinidad and Tobago, 84 Turkey, 65

230 Turkmenistan, 84 Tuvalu, 84 Type II governance, 167 typology of societal transformations, 57, 152 Uganda, 82, 84, 89, 126, 127, 155 UN Summit on Sustainable Development Goals 2015, 68, 81 UNFCCC, 56, 83, 86, 108, 125, 126, 150 United Arab Emirates, 84 UK, 27, 30, 31, 54, 80, 108 United Nations, 3, 127 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, 68, 79 United Nations General Assembly, 3, 63, 77, 79, 123, 128, 133, 166

Index USA, 4, 7, 19, 21, 32, 34, 41, 45, 53, 54, 65, 94, 115–117, 134 utopian thought, 50, 140, 194–196 Vision Zero, 195 Voluntary National Reviews, 18 West Indies, 47, 48, 49 Wilberforce, William, 50 Women’s groups, 86, 90 World Bank, 95, 101, 103, 104, 158 world system theory, 25, 89, 98, 197 World Values Survey, 103, 112, 116 world views, 8, 10, 15, 191–193 Zimbabwe, 75, 84, 140, 173