Accelerating and Rescaling Transitions to Sustainability (ARTS)

Transition initiatives are the pulse of transformative change, by demonstrating and innovating how citizens and communities can live sustainably. With this realization come a number of critical questions concerning their impact in changing conventional course of action and in balancing imperative for change with remaining inclusive to citizens in their context.


The ARTS (Accelerating and Rescaling Transitions to Sustainability) project aims to understand how transition initiatives can accelerate sustainability transitions and to examine the conditions that catalyze change towards a sustainable low-carbon society. The objective of ARTS is to benefit policy, practice and theory and create opportunities for (social and governance) innovation by coupling, re-scaling and accelerating sustainability initiatives in European city-regions. The ARTS consortium consists of 10 partners from 10 European countries

Lessons for broader transitions
The focal unit of analysis of this project will be innovative activities and their related actor-networks that are fundamentally changing energy, food, shelter and mobility provisioning patterns at the scale of a city or region, situated within a wider European context. ARTS will explore how lessons from these initiatives can be drawn for broader transitions to sustainable low-carbon European societies.

Specifically the ARTS consortium aims to investigate and deepen our knowledge on the following research gaps that relate to the key conditions that can be associated to the acceleration of transitions in the context of cities and regions, namely: synergy, diversity, speed of change, inclusivity, knowledge dissemination and social learning. The project will explore these conditions based on a diverse set of transition initiatives in five transition regions across Europe in an inter- and transdisciplinary way: Brighton, Budapest, Dresden, Flanders, and Stockholm.

Transition initiatives and domains
These transition initiatives act upon low-carbon challenges and have started to transform (to a limited extend) structures, cultures and practices in the domains that impact the low-carbon challenge at hand. In the transition regions mentioned above, different transition initiatives take action across multiple domains and impact on one or on each of the low-carbon domains: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Resource Management, Energy Use and Supply, Living and Building, Transition and Mobility.

The project identifies the values, conditions and mechanisms for accelerating sustainability transitions, develop strategies to assist and stimulate their acceleration and assess them with dynamic modeling approaches.

Read more
During the project, the research team realized that activities using nature-based solutions sparked more social innovation in cities and accelerated the transition towards sustainability by creating new and better connections among different stakeholders. A good example of one of these transition initiatives is the Bee Plan in Genk, Belgium. Read more about this initiative here.

Read about other initiatives and results at the ARTS website or blog.


Duration of the project

The ARTS project runs from 2013 to 2016



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 603654.



SPRU – Sussex University (UK), IOER- Leibniz Institute for Ecological Research (Germany), ICLEI (Germany), Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria), VITO (Belgium), Stockholm Resilience Centre (Sweden), Bogacizi University (Turkey), SZIE GAK – Szent Istvan University (Hungary) and RSM – Rotterdam Business School (at Erasmus University Rotterdam) (The Netherlands).


DRIFT Team (Project Coordinator)

Niki Frantzeskaki, Derk Loorbach, Felix Spira, Steffen Maschmeyer, Helmi Hansma.