Geography of Sustainability Transitions

Session organizers:

Markus M. Bugge (markus.bugge@nifu.no), Marco Capasso (marco.capasso@nifu.no), Håkon Finne (Hakon.Finne@sintef.no), Teis Hansen (teis.hansen@keg.lu.se), Antje Klitkou (antje.klitkou@nifu.no), Håkon E. Normann (h.e.normann@tik.uio.no), Markus Steen (Markus.Steen@sintef.no)


In the past decade, the literature on sustainability transitions has made a considerable contribution towards understanding the complex and multi-dimensional shifts considered necessary to adapt societies and economies to sustainable modes of production and consumption in areas such as transport, energy, housing, agriculture and food, communication and health-care (Geels, 2002; Markard et al., 2012; Smith et al., 2010). In order to arrive at environmentally sustainable growth, system innovations are needed to e.g. replace fossil with renewable socio-technical configurations, encompassing not only new technologies but also corresponding changes in markets, user practices, policies and cultural discourses as well as governing institutions (Geels, 2013).

However, spatial dimensions of sustainability transitions have been largely ignored until recently (Coenen et al., 2012; Smith et al., 2010; Hansen & Coenen, 2015). As a result, the transitions literature has so far provided little explanatory purchase for the place-based and multi-scalar characteristics conditioning the systemic changes required.  This special session will provide a floor for discussing how place-specificity and multi-scalar relations matters for sustainability transitions. The selected studies will contribute to explaining the uneven development of new sustainable “green growth” paths across regions.

Place-dependent variables of interest include, but are not limited to: user practices, values and consumption patterns, grassroots initiatives, social entrepreneurship, policies for sustainable innovation, the skill sets of firms, the processes of technological specialisation and diversification, the actors’ strategies and capacities for institutional change, and the processes and practices in policy learning.



Coenen, L., Benneworth, P., & Truffer, B. (2012). Toward a spatial perspective on sustainability transitions. Research Policy, 41(6), 968-979.

Geels, F. W. (2002). Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study. Research Policy, 31(8), 1257-1274.

Geels, F. W. (2013). The impact of the financial–economic crisis on sustainability transitions: Financial investment, governance and public discourse. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 6, 67-95.

Hansen, T., & Coenen, L. (2015). The geography of sustainability transitions: Review, synthesis and reflections on an emergent research field. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 17 92-109.

Markard, J., Raven, R., & Truffer, B. (2012). Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects. Research Policy, 41(6), 955-967.

Smith, A., Voß, J. P., & Grin, J. (2010). Innovation studies and sustainability transitions: The allure of the multi-level perspective and its challenges. Research policy, 39(4), 435-448.