This book introduces transition management as a new mode of governance for sustainable development. Transition management combines a conceptual approach on social complexity, governance and long-term structural societal change with an operational governance model to actually work towards sustainability through learning-by- doing and doing-by-learning. The basic rationale behind transition management is that we are faced with societal problems of such complexity and magnitude, that existing approaches do not suffice. Such persistent problems can be found in many areas of society: energy, mobility, agriculture, water management, but also in health care, education, construction and industry. In these areas agreement upon definitions of sustainability the best solutions is impossible to achieve so that top-down planning is impossible, while at the same time sustainability can also never be achieved solely through bottom- up innovation and liberalization: sustainable development re! quires taking into account collective goods, future needs and un certain future development. Transition management aims to deal with persistent societal problems through combining long-term envisioning, short-term experiments in a selective participatory process that supports policy integration, social learning and social innovation. It focuses on frontrunners, entrepreneurs, niche-actors and innovative individuals and organizations in general that are committed to sustainable development. More often than not, innovations that in the long-term could contribute to sustainable development are unable to break through because of for example fragmentation, lack of means and support, limited attention to external (socio-economic) factors or lack of exposure. By simultaneously raising awareness and political acceptance for sustainable development in a specific area and by developing more coherence, cooperation and strategic capabilities at the level of the innovations, a structured process of social experimentation and learning can evolve that gradually leads to fundamenta! l structures in our societal systems. The central instrument for transition management is the transition arena: a scientifically underpinned operational model for coordinating and structuring transition management processes (especially in the predevelopment phase). The transition arena is a mental, physical and institutional space for experimentation, envisioning and network-building that is legitimized by regular policy. In the transition arena, different types of innovators with various backgrounds, perspectives and ambitions are brought together and develop shared long-term perspectives and a transition agenda that increasingly will influence regular policy. This approach has been introduced into research and policy in the Netherlands in 2001 and since then successfully applied in areas of sustainable energy, mobility, agriculture and housing . It has also been adopted as a new paradigm and approach in multi-disciplinary research . This book covers offers insight into the first five years of development of theory and practice of transition management in the Netherlands. As such, it is a unique account of an innovative experiment in policy theory and practice that is highly relevant for sustainable development in the international context.

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J. Rotmans (Jan)
J.E. Jurriaanse Stichting, Rotterdam
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT)

Loorbach, D.A. (2007, June 7). Transition Management: new mode of governance for sustainable development. Retrieved from