Networking for Just Sustainability Transitions

Report by Yannick Overzee

What is the role of translocal networking for just sustainability transitions? And which networks engage in making our world more just and sustainable? Speakers from academic and practitioner perspectives shared their experiences with networking for sustainability transitions before collectively diving into the co-production of knowledge on a range of different translocal networks for the Wiki knowledge commons.  The event is part of the event series on Just Sustainability Transitions.

This interactive online event began with presentations from three researchers and practitioners in the field (urban) translocal networks for justice and sustainability transitions: Liteboho Makhele, Dr. Corinna Hölzl, and Duncan Crowley. The three panellists conveyed their academic and practical experience with translocal networks and their relevance and importance in the pursuit of just sustainability transitions worldwide. This was followed by a plenary discussion pertaining to the organisation and configuration of translocal networks, the activation of stakeholders, and finding joy and meaning in the pursuit of just sustainability transitions. Afterwards, a wikithon was organised where participants shared knowledge and information on the networks they were familiar with, interested in, or a part of themselves. The wikithon was part of an ongoing effort to collectively build an open-source database of translocal networks working on just sustainability transitions 

This event was organized as a collaboration between the JUSTRA Cities Network project of the Vital Cities & Citizens (VCC) initiative and the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT). The panel consisted of Liteboho Makhele (South African Cities Network), Dr. Corinna Hölzl (Humboldt Universität Berlin), and Duncan Crowley (ECOLISE, Centre for ecology, evolution, and environmental changes). This blog summarizes some of the main insights from the event.

Watch the event and discover its insights:

Networking for Just Sustainability Transitions

#1 Embrace fractal governance

In order to make sure that sustainability transitions are just and inclusive of all, it is necessary to change default governance methods and start at the smallest possible level to understand constituents’ local needs and build on that—this is fractal governance. Understanding this, and applying it collaboratively in different locales, will help overcome the increasing complexity and account for the interrelation of challenges actors and stakeholders in these transitions face. It is about taking the same ‘fights’ to different places and having individuals learn from each other.

#2 Acknowledge your embeddedness

Translocal networking is also about situating oneself in one's locality and deepening one’s relationship with it. It’s important to facilitate this connection to people’s immediate environment, albeit only by organising walking tours to familiarise everyone with cities in their breadth, and the people residing in them. Translocal networking is, therefore, also an exercise in meeting one another or renewing connections. It is communities of people who ally and connect in these networks and who take on the fight for change, and it is, therefore, important to foster this sense of community among stakeholders; it is from this embeddedment that we can reach out most effectively.

#3 Build up your community in democratically

Networks can serve to bridge knowledge between specific communities. Embracing translocalism enables collective advocacy that enables the growth of all parties involved. This fosters the capacity to pose a challenge to the shortcomings of the incumbent system. This collectivity requires mutuality and adopting horizontal decision-making systems where voices are heard equally and solutions are devised holistically. Translocal networks serve to transfer knowledge between stakeholders and rely on alternative governance methods to ensure a horizontal distribution of power. 


Resources from the webinar

About the organizers

The JUSTRA Cities Network project of the Vital Cities & Citizens (VCC) initiative in collaboration with the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT). 

About the Author

Yannick Overzee is working as a junior researcher for the Vital Cities & Citizens initiative on the Just Sustainability Transitions in Cities Network (JUSTRA Cities Network) research project. He holds an MSc in Cultural Anthropology: Sustainable Citizenship from Utrecht University and an MSc in Industrial Ecology from the Technical University Delft and Leiden University. His research interests include urban agroecology, food justice, social movements, and sustainability transitions.

More information

Vital Cities and Citizens 

With the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens (VCC) Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to help improve the quality of life in cities. In vital cities, the population can achieve their life goals through education, useful work and participation in public life. The vital city is a platform for creativity and diversity, a safe meeting place for different social groups. The researchers involved focus on one of the four sub-themes:

  • Inclusive Cities and Diversity 

  • Resilient Cities and People 
  • Smart Cities and Communities  
  • Sustainable and Just Cities 

VCC is a collaboration between Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and International Institute of Social Studies (ISS). 

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