Making Progress on the Critical Transitions 

Between November 2020 and February 2021 we further developed the five transition maps and scoping two prototype projects: Beyond Landfills and The Future of Consenting.

Building richer transitions maps 

The transition maps for each Critical Transition illustrates the nature of the change. The maps describe the transition landscape and chart our progress as we make our way through the transitions. They are a key communication resource for the Critical Transitions programme.  

The initial transition maps in the report were developed primarily from ‘first principles’ thinking and desk research. To be useful to the sector the transition maps need to be enriched with further information about activities and projects that councils and other organisations are undertaking along with up-to-date information about transitional and ‘future state’ system characteristics and assumptions. 

The enriched transition maps will provide a resource for councils to frame their thinking in each of the transition area and find examples of relevant practice that they could apply in their own contexts  

Between 1-11 December we ran a series of online sessions to gather information to enrich transitions maps for each area, including: 

  • assumptions, system characteristics, extant action in the transition space 
  • blockers and enablers to progress on the transitions 
  • relevant data collection 

The updated transition maps were shared back with groups in mid-December for their feedback in the new year. From late February onwards the enriched transition maps were used to develop activities to help the sector accelerate on the transitions, e.g. sharing existing effective practice that is aligned with the transitions and connecting the sector with new information and research to help them get ready for the future before it arrives   

Prototype projects  

We also need to learn our way forward in relation to how we best support to the sector to navigate the transitions. We are undertaking two prototype projects designed to help us explore the best ways to move the Critical Transitions programme from a conceptual framework to accelerating practical change.   

We ran online sessions on each of the projects to gather information and map what’s needed in each area.  

Prototype project 1: Beyond Landfills 

Dealing with waste is a core local government responsibility but the way we have approached waste historically is no longer going to be feasible. The focus of this project is central to both a core activity of councils and local government’s responsibility to ensure current and future wellbeing. It is therefore an ideal area in which to explore how we might make a Critical Transition from our current high waste society to a low waste society.  

Prototype project: Future of Consenting* 

Over the next decade, new technologies will make it possible to create buildings with less waste and less pollution in the construction process and that are healthier and require less energy to run once constructed – all of which contributes to community and planetary wellbeing. The project will explore two questions: 

  • To what extent do the current consenting processes and the assumptions that underlie them help to ensure that the future built environment is designed to protect and enhance wellbeing?  
  • How can the consents process be adjusted to accelerate, not block, harnessing these innovations, whilst still maintaining building quality?   

Local government has a responsibility for the current and future wellbeing of local communities. It also has responsibilities for granting building consents. The future of consenting therefore provides a direct connection between a core function of councils with its statutory responsibilities in relation to future wellbeing. 

*working title