Transitions studies and developing countries. Does it fit?
While sustainability transitions studies are often being criticized for its narrow focus on European and other OECD countries, more and more scholars apply concepts and frameworks like transition management or strategic niche management to countries in Asia, Africa or Latin America.
This raises some critical questions: How do theoretical frameworks such as Strategic Niche Management or the Multi-Level Perspective hold in non- European or emerging economies? Can they be adjusted to better suit this context? Which insights from other theories and fields can be used? How can local bodies of knowledge, demand side characteristics or contextual aspects be better integrated? Can transitions studies provide substantial insights for practitioners and policy makers in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa? In a recent blog post a transitions PhD student simply asked if we can apply “northern theories for southern contexts”.
Obviously, answering these questions is not an easy task – and it needs some serious discussions within the transitions research community and beyond. To foster that debate and share experiences with researchers coming from and working in developing countries, a new network was established at last year’s IST conference in Brighton, where participants discussed if and how concepts and theories in transition studies can be applied to developing countries and emerging economies.
The network about transitions studies in Latin America and the Carribean, Asia and Africa – or TransLACASAF – provides a forum that aims to build up knowledge and capacity, exchange on theoretical and content related aspects and further the STRN network on this topic.
A key activity of the group are regular webinars where current research topics are discussed. These are held on a monthly basis since October 2015. Issues like energy efficiency finance in Thailand, the establishment of a sustainability experimentation venture network to nurture local knowledge on global change, co-construction of knowledge in regards to climate change adaptation practices in China or pathways to improve ecological management of a nature conservation area in Honduras have been discussed so far.
The group further plans to provide dialogue sessions and discussion forums during the next IST conference in Wuppertal 2016. Their overarching topic is already part of the call for abstracts and submissions.
If you would like to share your research that deals with transitions in developing countries or if you want to contribute to the more general debate you are more than welcome to join the network. Anyone interested should write an email to email@example.com to become part of the network’s email list. Ideas for additional activities, comments and suggestions are also very welcome.