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Transition Towns

Publication date: 2015
Keywords: Climate Change, collaborative community, economic resilience, transition towns

Transition initiatives are community organised social innovations present in 44 countries that are attempting to build local resilience to climate change, peak oil and the current economic crisis. The Transition movement aims to develop local economies which are not orientated towards growth, and communities that are resilient and which enhance well being.

The Transition movement aims to empower communities to respond to climate change, peak oil and the economic downturn. The cumulative effects of multiple projects and initiatives are, it is hoped, able to contribute to a wider movement developing a more sustainable society.

The first Transition initiatives emerged as a pro-active, community led response to deal with the perceived threat to local communities from peak oil – the decreasing availability of low cost hydrocarbons. These early initiatives focussed on the idea of energy descent.

Transition initiatives are mostly led by citizens working voluntarily. However, a key element of the approach is to forge positive links with businesses, politicians and other organisations.


Relevance for TRANSIT

Transition initiatives are an interesting case of social innovation because it has explicit transformational ambitions in its desire to change society and a model of change that is based on community empowerment. It also has a strong experimental ethic which means that Transition initiatives create the space for other forms of innovation to emerge. 


Social Innovation Initiatives in the Critical Turning Points-database

Omstilling Ry (Transition Ry)


Social Innovation Initiatives studied in-depth

Transition Norwich

Transition Town Tooting

Transition Bro Gwaun



Longhurst, N. (2015) Transformative social innovation narrative of the Transition Movement. TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement: 613169

Research Coordination: UEANoel Longhurst 

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