Leverage points for sustainability transformations: nine guiding questions for sustainability science and practice

Research output: Journal contributionsOther (editorial matter etc.)Research


The concept of leverage points offers great potential to consider how we can intervene in systems to create transformations for sustainability. In this special issue, we draw together a diverse collection of research that engages with this central idea. The papers cover three broad topics: (1) the use of a ‘leverage points lens’ for systems framings and understandings; (2) how individual interventions can be understood and critiqued from a leverage points perspective; and (3) the implications of a leverage points approach for research practice and action. Across these topics, we present the papers, and embed them within current critical debate in sustainability science. In doing so, we produce nine guiding questions to shape the research and practice of leverage points for sustainability transformation. These nine questions introduce conceptual clarity to untangle some of the deeper questions around which system we are engaging with, whose system counts, and whose sustainability we are seeking to create. They further shape how we deliver a leverage points research practice. We intend, therefore, that our guiding questions open up exploration across systems and worldviews, and help us to dance with systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)721-726
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 05.2021

Bibliographical note

This research was funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung and the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur, grant number A112269. We would also like to thank all the members of the Leverage Points project team for the inspiration and thoughts that helped shape our understanding and Guido Caniglia for his helpful and constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research draws on work undertaken in a large transdisciplinary research project (Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation). The authors acknowledge and thank all project members for their ideas and input in the early stages of this work, even where they are not listed as authors. Full details of project members and their research are available at https://leveragepoints.org