Central in leadership for sustainability transitions is the capability to create transformative momentum in a sustainable (desirable) direction, calling for meaningful conversations on sustainable futures. The aim of this study is to develop a conceptual framework to inspire and support such conversations. A qualitative literature review of sustainability conceptualizations was conducted, followed by a thematic analysis. The resulting framework consists of an overarching question and an accompanying set of categories for four sustainability dimensions: the social, the economic, the ecological, and ‘human needs and wellbeing’. Furthermore, the framework is visualized as a lighthouse for pedagogical reasons. We foresee that the lighthouse might be of value in processes guiding socio-technical transitions towards sustainability in three different ways: (1) by attempting to bridge the issue of ‘transition’ with that of ‘sustainability’; (2) as part of a backcasting process; and (3) modes of transdisciplinary research where relevant actors take part in the conversation. The study is related to over 20 years of experience from working with a backcasting approach engaging with sustainability transitions in a variety of processes. We invite further dialogue on how one may approach the concept of sustainability to inspire and support conversations on sustainable futures.
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