An archetype analysis of sustainability innovations in Biosphere Reserves: Insights for assessing transformative potential

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Sustainability transformations are considered to provide pathways to solve current wicked problems, although empirical approaches to assess their actual transformative potential are still limited. In this study, we analyse a diverse set of 129 sustainability innovations in two Biosphere Reserves in Germany and France (Schorfheide-Chorin and Fontainebleau-Gâtinais), based on an analytical framework that characterises innovations through actors, processes and outcomes. With a hierarchical cluster analysis conducted on innovation outcomes, we identify six archetypes: Participative Transformation Governance, New Sectors for Social-ecological Transformations, Social and Sustainable Entrepreneurs, Social Innovations, Service Innovations and Technological Efficiency Innovations. The most transformative archetype, Participative Transformation Governance, targets both shallow and deep leverage points, while implementing diverse amplifying strategies to enhance impacts. The least transformative archetypes, e.g. Service Innovations, target shallow leverage points and lack amplifying strategies. Our archetype approach thus proves suitable for capturing a diverse range of sustainability innovations and characterising their transformative outcomes. Synergies between archetypes could be identified and further research should elaborate on the bridging role of Biosphere Reserves to best use synergies and enhance transformative processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103674
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Biosphere Reserves Institute and the Innovation and Career Centre "ProBio-LaB" by the Ministry of Science , Research and Culture of the federal state of Brandenburg, Germany.

© 2024 Published by Elsevier Ltd.