STS - conferences, IST2012

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Sustainability experiments in Asia: transnational layerdness and its impact on up-scaling
Anna J. Wieczorek, Rob Raven, Frans Berkhout

Last modified: 2012-03-22

Abstract


This paper draws on two insights from the system innovation studies. One relates with the suggestion that a sequence of critical number of originally unrelated and local experiments may gradually lead to an emergence of a stable niche. The niche, under certain conditions, may further contribute to a radical regimes change that defies the conventional development pathways. The second insight relates with the recent attempts to complement the 2D conception of the multilevel perspective with a third, spatial, dimension. Introduction of this dimension is a response to the criticism of the system innovation studies as focusing too strongly on the national level on cost of other geographical levels. Introduction of the spatial dimension makes it possible to investigate the flows and interactions across spatial scales.

In the context of developing countries a great deal of sustainability oriented experimentation can be observed . Sustainability experiments are defined as planned initiatives that embody a highly-novel socio-technical configuration likely to lead to substantial sustainability gains. Their presence in Asian countries is well documented but there is no systematic work that would map the initiatives and analysed their factual contribution to sustainability transition. What particularly is unexplored is the specific characteristics of sustainability experiments and especially the impact of flows and interactions across spatial scales on experiments up-scaling.

In this paper we review a body of the development literature to reveal that the transnational linkages between institutions, actors and flows are critical for successful up-scaling of sustainability experiments. Using the database of local sustainability oriented initiatives in various energy and mobility fields in India and Thailand we demonstrate the local, national and international features of these linkages (layerdness in experiments) and explore the extent to which the various factors and their combinations contribute to the up-scaling of these initiatives.