A Transition Research Perspective on Governance for Sustainability

  • Derk LoorbachEmail author
  • Niki Frantzeskaki
  • Wil Thissen


In this chapter we present the transitions approach as an integrated perspective to understand and possibly orient our society towards sustainable development. Since the concept of sustainability is inherently normative, subjective and ambiguous, we argue that (unlike some more traditional approaches to sustainable development) we should focus on an open facilitation and stimulation of social processes towards sustainability. The transitions approach and transition management specifically, seek to deal with ongoing changes in society in an evolutionary manner so as to influence these ongoing changes in terms of speed and direction: towards sustainability. A transitions approach to explore sustainability transitions poses novel challenges for research: there are no unequivocal answers, nor it is clear how these processes should be governed. We conclude our analysis by formulating the basic research questions central to the search for governance for sustainability, and by reflecting on the role of science in sustainability transitions.


Sustainable Development Transition Management Integrate Assessment Transition Research Complex Adaptive System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The present paper is a product of research that has been conducted with the support of the KSI II.2 Research Subprogram “The dynamics of transitions” ( An earlier version of the present paper had been presented in the EU Conference, Sustainable Development: A challenge for European Research, 28–29 May 2009, Brussels, Belgium.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and European Union 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derk Loorbach
    • 1
    Email author
  • Niki Frantzeskaki
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wil Thissen
    • 2
  1. 1.DRIFT – Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, Faculty of Social SciencesErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Technology, Policy and ManagementDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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