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Transitions from the outside in: The role of landscape in sustainability transitions
Fjalar Johannes de Haan, Niki Frantzeskaki

Last modified: 2012-03-19


The importance of the landscape for societal transitions is widely recognised and is a central concept in the Multi-level Perspective. Transition studies have been considering the developments and events at the landscape level when analysing socio-technological transitions and drawing transition scenarios. Furthermore, theoretical work to date has been addressing the importance of the timing of landscape influences. This article further explores the nature of the landscape influences and how they interact with the regime. A typology of different kinds of landscape influences is presented which is applied by water policy researchers and policymakers in Melbourne, Australia.

Specifically, this field research includes: (a) generation of a list of landscape influences by extensive literature review on uncertain scenario factors, crises, shocks and surprises documented in climate adaptation policy reports, scientific reports and publications; (b) assessment of landscape influences by experts during an expert group session (focus group set up) and (c) assessment of landscape influences (relevance, plausibility, degree of impact, degree of influence) by policy makers of six city councils in Melbourne.

Mapping landscape influences by looking at their intensity and duration this paper presents a refined view on concepts as ‘windows-of-opportunity’ and ‘timing’ from a transitions perspective, summarised in a typology. Letting go the idea that the landscape is immune to the changes brought about during sustainability transitions, we understand the interactions between the regime and the landscape better. Using these insights and the typology, assessments for urban water policy have been made for the Melbourne context which in turn refined the research findings presented here.