Governing sustainability transitions: contrasting experimental arenas through the lens of Agenda 2030
Conference contribution, 2018
In 2015, the necessity of fundamental societal change was outlined in a universal, transnational agreement with the headline of “transforming our world”. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals, ranging from ending poverty and establishing gender equality to halting climate change and sustainable cities and communities. Building on UN and scholarly debates, we put forward two key principles to guide the realization of Agenda 2030: transformation (to sustainability) and integration. Transformation refers to the understanding that fundamental change is necessary to achieve sustainability; Integration recognizes that such change is dependent upon different perspectives, such as sustainability dimensions and the SDGs themselves, and different actors. At the same time, laboratories in real world contexts have emerged from various discourses, and are portrayed as settings to host potentially transformative experimentation and innovation processes and integrate various perspectives and actors. Sustainability related labs contribute a significant share to all labs existing. Despite their proliferation across the local, regional and national levels, it remains unclear how different laboratory settings might relate to processes of integration and transformation. Labs have seldom been attached explicitly to Agenda 2030 in practice, and a systematic assessment of the suitability of labs to support agenda 2030 so far is lacking. Hence, the main aim of this work-in-progress paper is to situate existing lab approaches from real world contexts in relation to the ambitions of Agenda 2030. It is guided by the following main research question: What is the capacity of labs in real world contexts in contributing to agenda 2030 by processes of transformation and integration? The paper presents the progress of an ongoing study, which intends to employ a step-based systematic review approach. Firstly, we highlight and unpack the key principles to guide the realization of Agenda 2030: transformation (to sustainability) and integration, and propose an analytical framework related to these principles. Secondly, and currently ongoing, we investigate a breadth of lab approaches building on a systematic review to draw out their capacities to contribute to transformation and integration. Results of the first stage are presented, before the paper ends by outlining the ongoing data collection process, describes the sample and provides a brief outlook.