Home » Environmentalism » Environmental movements » Great Transition

Great Transition

The Great Transition is a term used by the Great Transition Initiative (GTI) and its predecessor, the Global Scenario Group (GSG), to describe a vision of a just and sustainable global future. The term was originally used by Kenneth E. Boulding in The Meaning of the 20th Century – The Great Transition (1964), considered a hallmark design of systems thinking, the shift from pre-modern to post-modern culture, and the possible oven Great Transition. [1]

The elements of the Great Transition vision include social and ecological values, increased human interconnectedness, improved quality of life , and a healthy planet, and the absence of poverty, war, and environmental destruction. The Great Transition concept has been adopted by numerous individuals and organizations in the sustainability sphere, most notably by Prime Minister of Bhutan Jigme Thinley , [2] the New Economics Foundation , [3] and the Capital Institute, [4] and it was used 2011 SmartCSOs Conference on Strategies for Civil Society Organizations in London. [5]


The term Great Transition was first introduced by the Global Scenario Group (GSG), a faculty international body of scientists convened in 1995 by the Tellus Institute and the Stockholm Environment Institute to review the requirements for a transition to a sustainable global society. The GSG set out to describe and analyze scenarios for the future of the earth as it entered the Planetary phase of civilization . The GSG ‘s scenario analysis resulted in a series of reports, [6] and its findings were summarized for a non-technical audience in the essay. Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead . [7]

Since its introduction, the term “Great Transition” has often been used by organizations or individuals in the environmental / sustainability domain to describe a paradigmatic shift of civilization towards the behaviors and values ​​that would be necessary for a sustainable global civilization to flourish. A sequel to the Great Transition essay- Journey to Earthland: The Great Transition to Planetary Civilization -was released in 2016. [8]

Alternative scenarios

The Global Scenario Group is organized into three categories: Conventional Worlds, Barbarization, and Great Transitions.

Conventional Worlds

Conventional Worlds are future that evolve gradually from today’s dominant forces of capitalism and globalization : economic interdependence deepens, dominant values ​​spread, and developing regions converge towards rich-country patterns of production and consumption. Two variations of Conventional Worlds are Market Forces, neoliberal vision in qui Powerful global actors advance the priority of economic growth, and Policy Reform, in qui gouvernements are reliable to HARMONIZE economic growth with sustainable development objective, Such As the Millennium Development Goals .


Another alternative future, called Barbarization by the GSG, could be found in the context of social degradation, environmental degradation, and economic instability. In these scenarios, environmental destruction leads to an overall social collapse. One form this future would be an authoritarian Fortress World scenario, a kind of global apartheid with elites in protected enclaves and an impoverished majority outside. Another is Breakdown, where conflicts and crises spiral out of control, waves of disorder spread across countries and regions, and institutions collapse.

Great Transitions

Great Transition scenarios are transformative scenarios. Their defining feature is the ascendancy of a new suite of values ​​- human solidarity, quality of life, and respect for nature. These scenarios have two variants: Eco-Communalism and New Sustainability Paradigm.

Eco-communalism , a highly localist vision of a lifestyle that turns to non-material dimensions of fulfillment (the quality of life, the quality of human solidarity, and the quality of the earth), is favored by some environmental subcultures, particularly the anti -globalization movement .

New Sustainability Paradigm , by contrast, aims at a global perspective of globalization, that is an opportunity for forging a new category of consciousness – a global citizenship that understands humanity’s place in the web of life and its link to the fate of the earth .

The New Sustainability Paradigm encompasses many of the ideals of Eco-Communalism, rejecting rampant consumerism and seeking human well-being through material sufficiency rather than continuous economic growth. However, it also seeks to shape the character of global civilization. It sees the planetary phase of civilization as an opportunity. Global solidarity, cultural cross-fertilization, and economic interdependence.

Great Transition Initiative

Further development of the Great Transition Scenarios is carried out by the Great Transition Initiative (GTI). Launched in 2003, GTI is a global network of several hundred scholars, intellectuals, civil society leaders, and activists working to develop visions and pathways for a “Great Transition” to a future of equity, solidarity and ecological sustainability. an online journal and discussion network in 2014.

See also

  • Anthropocene
  • Global Citizens Movement
  • Planetary boundaries
  • Tellus Institute
  • Transition town


  1. Jump up^ Kenneth E. Boulding,The Meaning of the 20th Century – The Great Transition(New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1964).
  2. Jump up^ Jigme Thinley, “Address by the Prime Minister on Well being and Happiness,” UN Headquarters, New York, April 2, 2012,http://www.cabinet.gov.bt/?page_id=207.
  3. Jump up^ Josh Ryan-Collins,Great Transition(London: New Economics Foundation, 2009),http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/the-great-transition
  4. Jump up^ The Capital Institute Symposium: “Beyond Sustainability: The Road to Regenerative Capitalism,” New York, June 20-21, 2013,http://www.cisymposium.com/
  5. Jump up^ SmartCSOs,Effective Change Strategies for the Great Transition: Five Leverage Points for Civil Society Organizations(Berlin: Smart CSOs, 2011),http://www.veblen-institute.org/Effective-change-strategies-for.
  6. Jump up^ Seehttp://www.gsg.org/gsgpub.html.
  7. Jump up^ Paul Raskin, Tariq Banuri, Gilberto Gallopin, Pablo Gutman, Robert Kates, Al Hammond, and Rob Swart,Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Ahead Times(Boston: Stockholm Environment Institute, 2002),http: // www.greattransition.org/gt-essay.
  8. Jump up^ Paul Raskin,Journey to Earthland: The Great Transition to Planetary Civilization(Boston: Tellus Institute, 2016),http://www.greattransition.org/publication/journey-to-earthland.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *