Transition to Sustainable Development

A study commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Environment; project duration: Dec 2008 – Apr 2009

Project management: Univ.-Doz. Dr. Dietmar Kanatschnig (ÖIN)

Project implementation: Mag. Irma Pelikan, Univ.-Doz. Dr. Dietmar Kanatschnig (ÖIN)

By transition we understand a fundamental change – both in thought and in action – on the level of society as a whole, which affects its structure (entire institutional framework), culture (dominant perspective) and functioning (routines, rules, practices), in all parts of the system or in certain areas. The manipulation of insistent social issues is not a matter of total control and direction of the transitional process, but has to be envisioned as a common process of exploring and searching for long-term, sustainable solutions. This process of social innovation which includes transformations of society and systemic innovations requires adequate social, economic and cultural conditions, mechanisms providing incentives and coordination, and selective political impulses. Transition management, also called co-evolutionary controlling, is a political tool which is based on the assumption of system insecurity.

The foundations of transition management largely agree with the new EU strategy. It also features a number of core political principles quoted there, such as an open and democratic society, civil participation, and the involvement of companies and the social partners. At the same time, transition management as a political tool is not explicitly mentioned in the amended EU strategy. In a basic survey involving literature analysis, internet research and expert interviews, the compatibility of this EU strategy for sustainable development with the tool of transition management is being tested. The following topics are being analysed and prepared: i) the process of transition to a sustainable society, ii) the state of the art in transition management, both in theory and in practice, and iii) the interface between the amended EU strategy for sustainable development and transition management. The result of these efforts provides starting points and recommendations for the integration of transition management into the amended EU strategy.

Kanatschnig, Dietmar; Pelikan, Irma (2009): Transition to Sustainable Development. Ist Transition-Management als neues Politikinstrument mit der erneuerten EU-Strategie für Nachhaltige Entwicklung vereinbar? Final report. Vienna: Austrian Institute for Sustainable Development.

Kanatschnig, Dietmar; Pelikan, Irma (2010): Transitionmanagement in Theorie und Praxis. In: Steurer, Reinhard; Trattnigg, Rita (eds.), Nachhaltigkeit regieren. Eine Bilanz zu Governance-Prinzipien und -Praktiken. Munich: oekom, 75-97.