Projects
Founded by: European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme
December 2013 / November 2016

Exploring transition pathways to sustainable, low carbon societies - PATHWAYS

The ambitious EU policy goals to move to sustainable, resource efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient and biodiversity rich societies requires substantial transitions in the energy system, land-use and food systems. Different scientific approaches offer different perspectives on transitions, each with strengths and weaknesses. The PATHWAYS project couples three scientific disciplines, i.e. integrated assessment analysis, transitions studies and participative action research, to generate a chain of analysis.

The ambitious EU policy goals to move to sustainable, resource efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient and biodiversity rich societies requires substantial transitions in the energy system and land-use and food systems. Different scientific approaches offer different perspectives on transitions, each with strengths and weaknesses. The PATHWAYS project takes a step in coupling three scientific disciplines, i.e. integrated assessment analysis, transitions studies and participative action research, to generate a chain of analysis. This chain links the goal-oriented, quantitative,

  • systems-wide analysis from IAM models to
  • the 'thick' analysis of transitions as dynamic, multi-scale processes from transitions studies to
  • finally real-world insights from participative action research.
  • By doing so, the PATHWAYS project will be able to develop a more integrated methodological approach for analyzing on-going transitions pathways in key transitions domains relevant for EU policy (energy and land-use & food). Taken together, we can go beyond existing research as we account for long-term economic or technological consequences, but also the opportunities and barriers for innovation, and the role, attitudes, resources and strategies of key actors.

    The chain will also be able to link the macro level of European goals to the micro level of implementation. For the latter, the project will particularly focus on "bottom-up" level of transitions-in-the-making (specific projects) in a set of selected European cities and regions, and analyse case studies related to the power system, transport, household energy use, food production and consumption and bio-energy. Information from these studies will be used to also update the transition pathways at the macro-level.

    The main outputs will be concepts (transition pathways) and methods to assess progress towards desired sustainability transitions, based on a well-founded knowledge base.

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