Navigating sustainability transitions

January 7th, 2022

Project duration

December 2021 – December 2025

The challenge

Global earth system change triggered by industrial development, combined with inequality across regions and within nations, has led to growing calls for transitions or transformations to a ‘just and safe operating space for humanity’.

In mining and food systems, driving change towards just and sustainable futures for people and nature raise well-known challenges. Production systems are part of complex global networks, making it difficult to bound the scope of sustainability initiatives. Different motivations and capacities for sustainability transitions, along with high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity, requires adaptive, long-term approaches to learning and change.  

Diverse and contested values held by different people and groups with different levels of influence in the system can often lead to unjust decision-making processes, exacerbating social and environmental harms.

Our response

This project aims to build capacities for people with diverse perspectives to explore, understand, and act on challenges of just sustainability transitions. Focusing on critical minerals and food systems in Australia, this project will co-produce understandings of systemic barriers to and enablers of transformational change, and facilitate inclusive exploration of institutional and governance arrangements for supporting equitable sustainability transitions.

In food systems, we are analysing barriers and catalysers to sustainability transitions experienced by small- and medium- postgrowth food enterprises. Adopting a cross-scale perspective, we are exploring, for example, how a shift towards beyond-GDP frameworks could unlock the potential of food actors that aim at prioritising social and ecological wellbeing.

In critical minerals, we are engaging with Traditional Owners, industry, government, and society to explore the different ways in which actors are driving change and innovation towards just sustainability. We seek to understand the diverse values held by Traditional Owners, local communities, and stakeholders in mining systems, and the capabilities and enabling conditions that allow for decision-making to meet a wide range of needs, aspirations, and co-benefits. Click here to see the critical minerals information page. 


Our work is intended to build capacity for navigating complexity and ambiguity in societal initiatives for equitable, sustainable futures. By exploring and influencing societal narratives, this project will contribute to the resilience of just sustainability transitions.


Nicky Grigg (Project Lead), Sabrina Chakori, Rebecca Riggs, Tira Foran, Jody Bruce, Andy Hall, Andy Wilkins, Kristina Fisher, Enayat Moallemi, James Langston, Claudia Munera, Marcus Barber