Paper presented at the IST 2013 – 4th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions

September 24, 2013

Paper presented at the IST 2013 – 4th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions, June 19-21, 2013, F1: Special Session - Citizens and Consumers & backcasting session, Thursday, 20/Jun/2013, 16:30-18:0`, organized by the Sustainability Transitions Research Network.

The program is available at

Andrea Farsang (PhD candidate) co-authored a paper presenting results of the envisioning process of the EU FP7 project CRISP at the International Conference on Sustainability Transitions

Wehrmeyer, W.; Fudge, S., Stasiskiene, Z.; Emmert, S., Farsang, A., Kondili, E.; Venhoeven, L.; Vitterso, G.: “The Future is not what it used to be: School Pupils’ visions and Transition Pathways across 6 EU countries”


There is a prima facie argument that those who are affected by a decision should have a say in that decision. In terms of intergenerational equity, as well as the evolution and implementation of the Transition Management agenda, this must include young people, which is also typically not pursued, as the majority of Visions and Transition Strategies are developed, often for good reasons, by experts and specialists in relevant fields. In addition, given the socio-cultural context, approach to technology etc, Generation Z is likely to have very different notions of their specific future, and the way sustainability and low-carbon lifestyles are evolving within this. This opens up the distinct possibility that (older) experts devise and shape transition pathways that hopefully deliver greater sustainability and less carbon-intensive lifestyles, but do so in a governance void and in a direction that those who are destined to live (in) these futures find difficult to accept, let alone actively pursue. In short, not involving young people in the Transition Pathways and Management agenda risk a governance deficit as well as an implementation challenge.

To understand how young people conceptualise of their future in low-carbon sustainability terms, and how they conceive suitable visions of their futures, 24 visioning workshops were held in Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, The Netherlands and the UK. This, then has allowed a comparison of their visions with those of more traditional and mainstream origins. Condensing these workshop-level visions, which produced over 1500 ideas and suggestions across the workshops, into pan-European Visions yielded three archetypical visions, namely Local Commuity, I-Tech, and One Ethical World. In addition, several observations about the perceptions of the pupils about their (sustainable) futures and were collated and digested. For instance, contrary to perceptions about the fully-connected lifestyles of modern pupils, issue they were apprehensive about was the rapid pace of technological change; fearing isolation and “not being able to keep up”.

Following this, an innovative new methodology to engage young people (and experts) in the development of suitable pathways towards the attainment of these visions were developed. A special focus on this are the implications (and transition pathways towards) specific sectors, notably household energy, mobility and food. This involved a pre-selection of “Pathway Components” – aspects of future visions or of the current status quo that act as drivers, barriers or system preconditions across the multi-level perspective. Such an approach then also allows a comparison of different Pathways, as well as of the role and significance of different Branching Points across pathways.

The paper outlines the visions, the pupils’ perception of the future and evaluates the adopted pathway methodology in detail.