From a transition perspective, three decades is not a long time. Yet, the United Nations sustainable development goals are set for 2030, and the pace of climate change calls for rapid transformation of massive sociotechnical systems. The challenges are enormous.
Reaching ambitious societal targets at local and global levels relies on collective action, but also on private and public agents daring to take the lead in complex and open-ended processes.
Inspiringly enough, some organizations and countries have shown that they want to take the lead in realizing more sustainable societal systems. In the months preceding UNFCC COP 21 in Paris in 2015, an accelerating number of private companies and regions articulated ambitions to become frontrunners in low carbon transitions, and as one example, the government of the host country of this conference has set the bold goal of Sweden becoming the first fossil free welfare state.
However, while taking the lead may offer economic and social rewards, the challenge to follow through is enormous, and actors that take the lead will face specific challenges. The 8th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions will devote special attention to problems and challenges for agents that aspire to lead sustainable transitions, and to the intellectual challenges of understanding how to lead collective processes that, in one sense, cannot be led. What type of conclusions can transition scholars bring to the table and what type of new knowledge do we need to develop? What type of theories and methods is required for making transition research a science for not only explaining, but also purposefully supporting, real life transitions?
For IST2017, we received more than 460 individual contributions from 37 different countries. The contributions have been organized in eleven different tracks: