Sustainability transitions require societal change at multiple levels ranging from individual behavioral change to community projects, businesses that offer sustainable products as well as policy-makers that set suitable incentive structures. Concepts, methods and tools are currently lacking that help to initiate and design transition governance processes based upon an encompassing understanding of such diverse interactions of actors and intervention points. This article presents a methodological framework for the initiation and design of transition governance processes. Based upon a conceptualization of sustainability transitions as multilevel learning processes, the methodological framework includes participatory modeling, a systematic literature review and governance system analysis to identify social units (learning subjects and contexts), challenges (learning objects) and intervention points (learning factors) relevant for initiating case-specific transition governance processes. A case study on sustainable food systems in Ontario, Canada is provided to exemplify the application of the methodological framework. The results demonstrate the merit of combining stakeholder-based and expert-based methods, as several learning factors identified in the participatory process could not be found in the general literature, and vice versa. The methodological framework allowed for an integrated analysis of the diversity of existing initiatives in the case study region and specific intervention points to support place-based sustainability innovations. Initiators of transition governance processes can use the results by designing targeted interventions to facilitate and coordinate existing initiatives or by setting new impulses through purposeful action.
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