ARTS (Accelerating and Rescaling Transitions to Sustainability) is committed to understanding the role and impact of transition initiatives in cities and examining the conditions that can aid accelerating change towards a sustainable low-carbon society.

New initiatives, ideas and products change the way we relate to one another and to our environment, as well as the way we define and fulfil our needs. They create opportunities for experimenting and learning, which can help our societies transition towards greater sustainability. Transition initiatives drive this movement, acting as the pulse of change; they innovate and demonstrate how we can live sustainably.

This raises some critical questions:

  • Can they impact business-as-usual?
  • Can they balance the imperative for change while remaining inclusive and embedded in their local contexts?

ARTS' research objectives

The ARTS research project has the following research aims:

  1. Identify the dynamics of coupling and rescaling by examining how transition initiatives in cities and regions interact across domains and shift scales of operation and impact at multiple domains (energy, food, built environment, mobility);
  2. Identify the challenges as well as the opportunities for coupling and rescaling transition initiatives locally and across scales, and addressing multiple domains, considering their interactions and feedback;
  3. Contribute to the design of new governance approaches for the acceleration of transitions to sustainable low-carbon societies, capitalising on existing knowledge on multi-level polycentric governance practices.
  4. Improve decision making in policy and practice at regional and EU level to accelerate transitions to sustainable low-carbon societies through targeted support and guidance of transition initiatives that foster coupling between domains;
  5. Develop and assess a portfolio of adaptive mechanisms, strategies and instruments through agent based modelling assessing policies for acceleration that will improve decision making and increase cost-efficiency of such strategies and instruments for accelerating sustainability transitions;
  6. Stimulate a wide public debate on the role of new forms of social organisation and pioneering capacity of transition initiatives to help accelerate wider societal transitions.

ARTS is an integrated, inter- and trans-disciplinary project with a clear methodology of examining how a diverse set of transition initiatives can be coupled and rescaled in order to speed-up their delivery and impact on multiple low-carbon domains in 5 case study regions across Europe: Brighton in UK, Budapest in Hungary, Dresden in Germany, Flanders in Belgium and Stockholm in Sweden. Each region has citizen bloggers who provide regular blog posts about sustainability initiatives in their city. The developed acceleration governance approach and modelling platform aim at improving decision making and cost efficiency of policy response, supporting social learning and in turn, at speeding-up the implementation of the EU's Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Strategies.

Project Image


Matthew S Bach


Ania Rok
Jake Barnes
Niki Frantzeskaki
huang huangyujuan

Project Dates:



sustainability transitions, acceleration, EU