What factors enable social-ecological transformative potential? The role of learning practices, empowerment, and networking

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Achieving sustainability in the Anthropocene requires radical changes to how human societies operate. The Seeds of Good Anthropocenes (SOGA) project has identified a diverse set of existing initiatives, called “seeds,” that have the potential to catalyze transformations toward more sustainable pathways. However, the empirical investigation of factors and conditions that enable successful sustainability transformations across multiple cases has been scarce. Building on a review of existing theoretical and empirical research, we developed a theoretical framework for assessing three features identified as important to transformative potential of innovative social-ecological initiatives: (1) learning practices, (2) empowerment, and (3) networking. We applied this framework to a set of African-led and Africa-related initiatives that we selected from the SOGA database that were divided into initiatives with more or less transformative potential. We coded the presence or absence of features relating to the theoretical framework using secondary data, and then compared the initiatives using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA). This analysis revealed that of the three features tested, Networking emerged as the most important feature for transformative potential when compared amongst cases. By developing and testing a framework for the comparison of cases we provide a basis for future comparative work to further identify and test properties of cases that enable transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

    Research areas

  • Ecosystems Research - local initiatives, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), the seeds of good anthropocenes, transformative potential