Advancing transformations to more sustainable and equitable futures. Read more.

Projects & outputs

Transformative pathways to sustainability: learning across disciplines, contexts and cultures

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set broad aims for transforming towards sustainability, but putting these aims into practice will require constructing concrete pathways of change. This means combining social, technological and institutional change in ways that bridge global demands and local realities and challenge dominant knowledge, practices and power relations, at the same time as respecting planetary boundaries and promoting social justice.

The ‘Transformative Pathways to Sustainability’ project carried out comparative research on social transformations in the context of environmental change in six sites around the world – Argentina, Mexico, Kenya, China, the UK and India – and in three domains:

Windmills in China | Photo: AsianDevelopmentBank
Seeds/Photo: Sara Dent

The project aimed to contribute not just to understanding, but also directly to the co-construction of transformative pathways to sustainability. Through co-learning between and across low-, middle- and high-income settings, PATHWAYS examined and compared the processes of co-constructing transformative pathways to sustainability in diverse historical, political and cultural contexts.

In each site the project convened ‘Transformation Labs’ (T-Labs) to develop innovative responses to specific socio-ecological problems. T-labs are processes which include research, interviews and workshops. The T-Labs employed creative methods to explore people’s visions, values and ideas for transformation.

Find out more on the PATHWAYS website.

Highlights of PATHWAYS outputs

Pathways Network. 2021. Transformative Pathways to Sustainability: Learning Across Disciplines, Cultures and Contexts, Taylor and Francis.

This book draws together theoretical, methodological and empirical contributions from the last five years of the TKN’s work. It is edited by Adrian Ely and involves collaborators from across the network – a total of 33 researchers from twelve institutions across nine countries.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

This article brought together the experience from across the TKN, specifically regarding the process of co-production, cross-learning and transdisciplinarity in different contexts.  It drew on text produced over the course of the project by each of the country teams.

This output distilled some of the most novel theoretical contributions that the project generated. It drew on empirical evidence and ideas produced over the course of the project by each of the country teams, also tying into the long history of transformations research upon which some of the project ideas were based.

This output drew upon the ‘Pathways’ TKN work in Mexico and Argentina – as well as a number of other experiences from the Global South – to explore the notion of ‘transformative spaces’.

Methodological guides

Bioleft research-action project (Latin America Hub)

More information is available on the Bioleft website.

Gurgaon Water Forum as an action-research project (South Asia Hub)

Outputs from other hubs


Dr Adrian Ely
University of Sussex, UK
[email protected]

Dr Anabel Marin
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (CONICET), Argentina
[email protected]

This network received seed funding under phase 1 of the Transformations to Sustainability programme.