What is the Transition ? It is a movement that goes well beyond the scope of a mere idea. The Transition consists in an implementation of the sustainable development concept. In the face of an ecological crisis, climate change and the depletion of natural resources, alternatives are being developed to ensure the resilience of our society. These transition initiatives are abundant. In order to have a clearer picture of what is at stake, listed below you will find some definitions of the core concepts of the Transition.


The Transition is a movement of initiatives trying to ensure the resilience of a community, that is to say its capacity to continue functioning despite the economic crisis and ecological disasters. The first to theorise the concept of "ecological transition" in 2005 was the British teacher Rob Hopkins. Based on experiments pursuing autonomy and local resilience, Rob Hopkins developed a set of principles and practices that he exposed in his book "The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience", published in 2008.

By starting off in cities willing to tackle climate change and peak oil, the concept of an ecological transition progressively spread out to different economic and social spheres. The ecological transition refers to energy transition (energy efficiency, preference for renewable energies), industrial transition (local production of recycable goods in a circular economy perspective) as well as agri-food transition (replacement of an industrial agriculture by an organic one).

Many other sectors have been influenced by the transition principles. In city planning, the transition has involved resorting to urban densification, the generation of green spaces, energy efficiency, etc. In the transport sector, ecomobility has emerged as the main solution : car-sharing, electric buses, public bikes. Financial institutions and fiscal incentives are also becoming a reality, just like other forms of education that are based on cooperation and complementarity. Thanks to its bottom-up dynamic, citizen participation is central to the functioning of these initiatives.

The Transition movement goes beyond previous social and ecological movements because it offers a firmly optimistic vision for the future. The actors of the transition see in the economic, social and ecological crises our society is caught up in an opportunity to change the way we live. Rather than plunging into despair and passivity, the Transition movement calls for concrete actions consistent with the concept of sustainable development.


Sustainable development

The concept of sustainable developement refers to an economic development respectful of the environment and social justice. In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) defined the notion as follows: "Sustainable development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This approach is dual. There is the need to ensure sustainability over time (between generations and as far as environmental and demographic constraints are concerned) and over the world (right for every person to access natural resources - principle of universal destination of goods).

All socio-economic activities can be pursued in a sustainable way: agriculture, food, housing, finance, tourism... The different topics of this European Observatory of the Transition present the opportunity to discover tangible commitments of different sectors, all carried out in an effort to manage their respective activities in a more sustainable way.