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Enhancing the social acceptability of sustainability transitions through governance : lessons learned from England’s post-Brexit agricultural sustainability transition

De Boon, A. (2023) Enhancing the social acceptability of sustainability transitions through governance : lessons learned from England’s post-Brexit agricultural sustainability transition. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00112809


Sustainability transitions are assumed to be one of the key solutions to society’s grand challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, and growing inequality. This assumption has led to multiple international commitments to realize sustainability transitions, including the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal. However, attempts to implement sustainability transitions often lack social acceptability and are confronted with societal protest. Despite a rich body of literature around the dynamics of sustainability transitions, there exists a knowledge gap on how to address this lack of social acceptability through governance. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap with insights from a critical case study of England’s post-Brexit agricultural sustainability transition. The main pillar of this sustainability transition is a shift from direct payments to farmers based on the amount of land that they manage to payments for efforts undertaken to provide public goods. The aim of this thesis is to explore how sustainability transitions could be governed to enhance the social acceptability of both the sustainability transition process and its outcomes. The analysis is based on literature reviews, interviews with stakeholders, a survey with English adults, and a policy analysis of key policy documents related to the English agricultural sustainability transition. Based on this, this develops a Sustainability Transition Governance framework and provides practical lessons for the governance of sustainability transitions. Overall, this thesis highlights the importance of monitoring and reflecting societal perceptions throughout a sustainability transition process; allowing diversity in problem and solution frames; creating flexibility in the measures designed to bring about a sustainability transition; providing clearly worded, long-term goals; interlinking problem(s), goal(s), and mechanisms to achieve the goal(s) of a sustainability transition; using integrated decision-making; building trust; showing credibility; being transparent in all sustainability transition processes; and taking a holistic approach to governance.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Rose, D. and Sandström, C.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Agriculture, Policy & Development
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
ID Code:112809


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