Transformations to Sustainability is a Belmont Forum-NORFACE Joint Research Programme

Hope for a year of transformations in 2021

It's no understatement to say that the past twelve months have created unprecedented challenges for research, and especially for transdisciplinary research that depends on creating links with different groups of stakeholders, and often with marginalized communities. However, when we met at the end of 2020, T2S project members reported feeling generally positive and proud about how they'd been able to adapt. In a blog from our recent meeting, and in the posts listed below, we share insights into the impact of the pandemic on the T2S projects, and consider what 'transformation' means in the context of such disruption.

Best wishes for a transformative 2021 from the T2S coordination team
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Doing transdisciplinary research in times of a global pandemic

Action research on mining communities and COVID-19 in the Brazilian Amazon
In April and May 2020 the Brazilian team of the Gold Matters project collected data on how the COVID-19 crisis was affecting artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) in three regions in the Brazilian Amazon. The results of the investigation have now been published, revealing how the impact of COVID-19 has two sides. On one hand, the vulnerability of miners is exposed, while on the other, their capacity to find coping solutions is revealed.

MISTY survey plans resume with diversified data collection methods to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic
The MISTY project had to postpone its plans to conduct a comparative survey in five cities across the globe due to the pandemic, but survey plans have resumed eight months later with diversified data collection methods in order to comply with security measures in Accra, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dhaka, London, Maputo and Worcester (US).

A round-up of all news from the T2S projects can be found here, and further resources and opinions relating specifically to the pandemic can be found here.

More blogs and opinion from the T2S community:


Is COVID-19 shifting attitudes towards sustainability? A case study from Amsterdam

Can the global health pandemic provide a ‘window of opportunity’ to change the way we think about sustainability? A new study by researchers from the Migration, Transformation and Sustainability (MISTY). project and UNU-MERIT found that for almost a quarter of Amsterdam residents surveyed, the coronavirus has increased their interest in sustainability. Did that lead to a change in behaviour?

Read more

Don’t save ‘the world’ – embrace a pluriverse!

On the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, Saurabh Arora and Andy Stirling (Governance of Sociotechnical Transformations (GoST) project) consider the UN's sustainable development agenda through the ages, and how embracing a 'pluriverse' could help create space for flourishing and transformations.

Read more on our blog

Resources round-up: latest publications from the T2S community

Articles, book chapters, media coverage and more from the T2S programme projects and related research...

Read more

Reading and viewing recommendations from our network

Discourse coalitions for sustainability transformations: Common ground and conflict beyond neoliberalism

Chris Riedy reviews discourses around sustainability transformations, surfacing common ground and conflicts, which he argues may be seeds of 'discourse coalitions' needed to rival the political power of neoliberal capitalism and support flourishing, sustainable futures. This is the latest paper in the virtual special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (COSUST) on the state of knowledge on social transformations to sustainability.

Note: Any individual or group interested in submitting a review paper on transformations to sustainability for the virtual special issue of COSUST should contact Sarah Moore.

Transformations Community workshops

Videos and supporting materials from the four virtual transformations practice workshops organized by the Transformations Community in 2020 are now available online. Featuring a number of people involved in the first phase of the T2S programme, the videos focus on:
  • Imagining better futures: using the seeds approach in an adapted Manoa method
  • Assessing Food System Sustainability
  • Mobilizing Collective Agency through Technologies of the Self in Transformation Labs
  • Embedding Resilience, Adaptation and Transformation in Interventions for Sustainability
Ocean Decade Virtual Series: Co-designing the science we need for the Ocean Decade - Part 2

Catch up with the second virtual session convened by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO in partnership with the International Science Council, as part of the Ocean Decade Virtual Series. You may be particularly interested in the intervention by T2S researcher Dylan McGarry on Methodologies for engagement.

Calls and other opportunities:

Global Sustainability: Call for papers on transformations
Global Sustainability, an Open Access journal dedicated to sustainability research, has recently released a call for papers for a forthcoming special collection dedicated to Transformations. The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2021, and the full call is available on our website.

Call for applications: Postdoc Academy for Transformational Leadership
The Postdoc Academy for Transformational Leadership aims to develop the next generation of leaders in sustainability research. It is open to postdocs affiliated with a European research institution, and some funding is available. With this year’s focus topic “Pathways for regenerative development in human nature relationships. Building back better?”, the programme will provide an intensive training with four seminars in two years that broaden the research competencies of early career researchers and promote their qualification towards transdisciplinary leadership. The programme also offers seed funding to groups of participants planning to initiate research collaborations.

Applications can be submitted until 15 February 2021.

A new open access outlet for research findings
As Horizon2020 beneficiaries, T2S programme grantees are eligible to rapidly publish their research for free on Open Research Europe, the European Commission’s new open research publishing service that supports fast publication and open peer review. Articles submitted now will be published at the formal launch of this platform in March 2021.

Contribute to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

IPBES has released a call for nominations of experts to assist with the scoping of a methodological assessment of business and biodiversity (Application form to be completed by 25 Jan 2021) and to take part in a survey to share information on how they have used completed IPBES assessments in their own work related to policymaking at the (sub)national level.

Connect with the T2S Community

Futures Forum on preparedness
12-13 January 2021

The Forum will include a discussion of 23-nation comparative study on COVID-19 to which members of the GoST project have contributed.

Sustainability Research & Innovation (SRI) Congress
12-15 June 2021
In person in Brisbane, Australia, and online

Transformations 2021: Enabling Positive Tipping Points
17-18 June 2021


2021 Human Development and Capability Association Conference: ‘Capabilities and Transformative Institutions’
13-15 September 2021
In person in Antwerp, Belgium, and online


See our website for all forthcoming events.
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