A Sustainability Lighthouse—Supporting Transition Leadership and Conversations on Desirable Futures
Journal article, 2018

Central in leadership for sustainability transitions is the capability to create transformative momentum in a sustainable (desirable) direction, calling for meaningful conversations on sustainable futures. The aim of this study is to develop a conceptual framework to inspire and support such conversations. A qualitative literature review of sustainability conceptualizations was conducted, followed by a thematic analysis. The resulting framework consists of an overarching question and an accompanying set of categories for four sustainability dimensions: the social, the economic, the ecological, and ‘human needs and wellbeing’. Furthermore, the framework is visualized as a lighthouse for pedagogical reasons. We foresee that the lighthouse might be of value in processes guiding socio-technical transitions towards sustainability in three different ways: (1) by attempting to bridge the issue of ‘transition’ with that of ‘sustainability’; (2) as part of a backcasting process; and (3) modes of transdisciplinary research where relevant actors take part in the conversation. The study is related to over 20 years of experience from working with a backcasting approach engaging with sustainability transitions in a variety of processes. We invite further dialogue on how one may approach the concept of sustainability to inspire and support conversations on sustainable futures.

Agenda 2030








John Holmberg

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Johan Larsson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory


2071-1050 (ISSN)

Vol. 10 11 3842

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SO 2010-2017, EI 2018-)


Building Futures (2010-2018)



Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)

Materials Science

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Other Environmental Engineering



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