1st Edition

Transformative Pathways to Sustainability Learning Across Disciplines, Cultures and Contexts

Edited By Adrian Ely Copyright 2022
    266 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    266 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Transformations to sustainability are increasingly the focus of research and policy discussions around the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the different roles played by transdisciplinary research in contributing to social transformations across diverse settings have been neglected in the literature. Transformative Pathways to Sustainability responds to this gap by presenting a set of coherent, theoretically informed and methodologically innovative experiments from around the world that offer important insights for this growing field.

    The book draws on content and cases from across the ‘Pathways’ Transformative Knowledge Network, an international group of six regional hubs working on sustainability challenges in their own local or national contexts. Each of these hubs reports on their experiences of ‘transformation laboratory’ processes in the following areas: sustainable agricultural and food systems for healthy livelihoods, with a focus on sustainable agri-food systems in the UK and open-source seeds in Argentina; low carbon energy and industrial transformations, focussing on mobile-enabled solar home systems in Kenya and social aspects of the green transformation in China; and water and waste for sustainable cities, looking at Xochimilco wetland in Mexico and Gurgaon in India. The book combines new empirical data from these processes with a novel analysis that represents both theoretical and methodological contributions. It is especially international in its scope, drawing inputs from North and South, mirroring the universality of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    The book is of vital interest to academics, action researchers and funders, policy makers and civil-society organisations working on transformations to sustainability.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at

    www.taylorfrancis.com/books/oa-edit/10.4324/9780429331930/transformative-pathways-sustainability-pathways-network, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license

    SECTION 1 Introduction 1 Introduction Adrian Ely 2 The ‘Pathways’ transformative knowledge network Adrian Ely and Anabel Marin SECTION 2 Emerging themes across the transformative knowledge network 3 Transformations: theory, research and action Adrian Ely 4 Transdisciplinary methods and T-Labs as transformative spaces for innovation in social-ecological systems Laura Pereira, Per Olsson, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, Olive Zgambo, Nathan Oxley, Patrick Van Zwanenberg, J Mario Siqueiros-García and Adrian Ely SECTION 3 Insights from different international contexts 5 Towards a more sustainable food system in Brighton and Hove, UK 6 Adrian Ely, Elise Wach, Rachael Taylor, Ruth Segal and Rachael Durrant 6 Bioleft: a collaborative, open source seed breeding initiative for sustainable agriculture Anabel Marin, Patrick Van Zwanenberg and Almendra Cremaschi 7 Kenya: making mobile solar energy inclusive Victoria Chengo, Kennedy Mbeva, Joanes Atela, Rob Byrne, David Ockwell, and Aschalew Tigabu 8 China: the economic shock of a green transition in Hebei Lichao Yang and Chulin Jiang 9 Wetlands under pressure: the experience of the Xochimilco T-Lab, Mexico Hallie Eakin, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, Rebecca Shelton, Beatriz Ruizpalacios, David Manuel-Navarrete and J. Mario Siqueiros-García 10 Enabling transformations to sustainability: rethinking urban water management in Gurgaon, India Dinesh Abrol and Pravin Kushwaha SECTION 4 Conclusion: transformative pathways to sustainability 11 Reframing sustainability challenges Fiona Marshall, Patrick Van Zwanenberg, Hallie Eakin, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, Adrian Ely, Anabel Marin, and J. Mario Siqueiros-García 12 Emerging insights and lessons for the future Adrian Ely, Anabel Marin, Fiona Marshall, Marina Apgar, Hallie Eakin, Laura Pereira, Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, J Mario Siqueiros-García, Lichao Yang, Victoria Chengo, Dinesh Abrol, Pravin Kushwaha, Edward Hackett, David Manuel-Navarrete, Ritu Priya Mehrotra, Joanes Atela, Kennedy Mbeva, Joel Onyango and Per Olsson


    The Pathways Network conducts action research into transformations to sustainability in six hubs across the world. Since 2015, it has been co-led (with Anabel Marin) by the editor, Adrian Ely, a Reader in Technology and Sustainability at SPRU and the STEPS Centre, University of Sussex, UK.

    "This book – over five years in the making – clearly illustrates the powerful potential of internationally-networked, transdisciplinary research. It marks an important step forward in the study of social transformations for sustainability, and is a key resource for those who concern themselves with today’s important challenge of transforming science."

    — Heide Hackmann, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, International Science Council (ISC)

    "There is a proliferation of studies about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but this well written and structured book goes to the heart of the debate: the necessary transformations for addressing the SDGs. What emerges is an important tapestry of theories and rich selection of local experiences that can be used to understand transformations and work with stakeholders using Transformation-Lab methodologies. It is an exemplary and compelling account of an exciting collective and global transdisciplinary research adventure. A must-read for anyone, academic and practitioners, engaged with the deep challenges of our time."

    — Johan Schot, Professor of Global History and Sustainability Transitions at the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges and Academic Director of the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC)

    "Transformation requires collective wisdom. Once this is forged by connecting and communicating across boundaries, it creates a bigger coherence that unites and steers us all, whatever our location, speciality or profession. This book describes how collective wisdom can be created to support transformative action."

    — Oliver Greenfield, Convenor, Green Economy Coalition

    "The best way to shape the future is to imagine it, and the best way to imagine it is to learn from pioneering examples. This book provides the examples and the theory that explains them. Fantastic reading for practitioners, scholars and dreamers!"

    — Carlota Perez, Honorary Professor at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose IIPP-UCL

    "In this potentially decisive decade for human well-being and planetary health, the question of how systemic or transformative change happens remains critical. How do we transition to social and economic pathways that ensure prosperity for all without cataclysmic environmental and climatic consequences? What role can transdisciplinary research play in identifying and helping to resolve structural barriers to transformative change? In this moment of unusual opportunities and challenges, this mould-breaking book tackles these questions head on. It is a timely and welcome challenge to the global development, research and policy communities to think and act differently."

    — Dr. Cosmas Milton Obote Ochieng, Global Director, Governance, Poverty and Equity, World Resources Institute

    "This book offers rich insight into how transformative change happens. It is the output of an established global community of researchers and practitioners working to enhance the ways in which research and innovation improves the lives of those facing critical social, economic and environmental challenges. It is a hugely valuable resource for others in that growing community who share the ambitions and motivations of the authors."

    — Prof Joanna Chataway, Head of Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP), University College London