Deep Transitions ACADEMIC Publications
Investment firm, Baillie Gifford sought to add greater complexity to the NGFS climate scenarios through the development of more comprehensive, system-wide qualitative narratives. Deep Transitions responded with an approach grounded in evidence-based understandings of sustainability transitions.
Closing the financial gap for promoting systemic socio-economic transformations to achieve sustainability requires both a substantial increase in investment levels and a qualitative change in investment strategies. In this Perspective, we elaborate on this claim and discuss why existing investment approaches that aim to make positive contributions to sustainability are unlikely to foster the systemic transformations needed for sustainability. Qualitative change means changing the current rules that guide investment practices and we outline a new set of rules that should guide transformative investment. These rules are based on the well-established socio-technical sustainability transition theory and the recent development of a theory of deep transitions. We explain why these transformative investment rules offer a promising alternative base for assessing investment opportunities and monitoring progress toward the multi-system changes required to achieve a socially just deep transition to sustainability.
Shocks such as wars, financial crises, and environmental disasters, play an important role in influencing the direction of sociotechnical systems such as energy, food, and mobility. We develop understandings of the effects of shocks on systems through the concept of imprinting, which looks at how the different conditions of a time-restricted period of a shock can bring about rapid changes in sociotechnical systems with long-lasting changes. We explore this concept through analysing two shocks and effects on the energy system: World War II and the 1973 Oil crisis. Prospective sustainability transitions will be effected by shocks such as climate change impacts and conflicts and thus understanding the long-term effects of shocks through imprinting will be a useful additional perspective.
Industrial society has not only led to high levels of wealth and welfare in the Western world, but also to increasing global ecological degradation and social inequality. The socio-technical systems that underlay contemporary societies have substantially contributed to these outcomes. This paper proposes that these sociotechnical systems are an expression of a limited number of meta-rules that, for the past 250 years, have driven innovation and hence system evolution in a particular direction, thereby constituting the First Deep Transition.
The contemporary world is confronted by a double challenge: environmental degradation and social inequality. This challenge is linked to the dynamics of the First Deep Transition (Schot, 2016): the creation and expansion of a wide range of socio-technical systems in a similar direction over the past 200–250 years. Extending the theoretical framework of Schot and Kanger (2018), this paper proposes that the First Deep Transition has been built up through successive Great Surges of Development (Perez, 2002), leading to the emergence of a macro-level selection environment called industrial modernity.