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Backcasting for a sustainable future: the impact after 10 years

Author: Quist, J.N.
Promotor: Thissen, W.A.H. · Vergragt, P.J.
Faculty:Technology, Policy and Management
Type:Dissertation
Date:2007-04-11
Publisher: Delft, Eburon
ISBN: 978-90-5972-175-3
Rights: (c) 2007 J.N. Quist

Abstract

"Backcasting for a sustainable future: the impact after 10 years" is the first book that systematically investigates the follow-up and spin-off of various participatory backcasting experiments seven to ten years after completion. Backcasting literally means looking back from a desirable future that is constructed first. Since the 1990s sustainable futures and system innovations towards sustainability have been explored in participatory backcasting experiments, numerous stakeholders have been involved and first steps have been planned in line with the envisioned sustainable futures.
A methodological framework for participatory backcasting is developed, as well as a conceptual framework. The latter uses various concepts and theories from Leitbilder or future visions, actor learning, stakeholder participation, as well as industrial network theory and institutional theory. Three case studies from the Netherlands are described, each consisting of a backcasting experiment and its follow-up and spin-off after ten years: (1) Novel Protein Foods and meat alternatives; (2) Sustainable Households and Nutrition; and (3) Multiple Sustainable Land-use in rural areas.
The cases show that participatory backcasting may, but does not automatically lead to substantial follow-up and spin-off at the level of niches or sets of related niches in the research, business, government and public domains. Various factors are identified that affect the emergence and the extent of follow-up and spin-off; these factors can be both internal and external to the backcasting experiment. Follow-up and spin-off are constituted by networks of actors that have been successful in mobilising sufficient resources for establishing the activities. Future visions from the backcasting experiment provide guidance and orientation to follow-up and spin-off in a decentralised way; they show both stability and flexibility during the emergence of follow-up and spin-off, and are influenced by dynamics like exits and entries in the supporting networks

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