Counting on the pioneers to make the difference!

By Christiane Maurer on 7 December 2017

Transition Management” is an innovation approach from the Netherlands. Formalised by the DRIFT laboratory of Rotterdam University, it has been tested out by a number of European local authorities. It is based on the idea that the creation and innovation momentum generated by networking local forerunners has enough potential to bring about ground-breaking changes as required to implement the energy and climate transition.

Over the last year, the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Regional Council and Energy Cities, in partnership with Ademe, have been exploring this transition management approach. Local forerunners, known as POTEs (Ordinary Energy Transition Pioneers), are everyday innovators operating in areas connected to the energy transition with a keen interest in new local dynamics and more generally speaking, in societal transitions.

We first interviewed a small group of about fifty POTEs to get their vision of the region’s future, understand their way of thinking and identify the weak change signals they perceive in their local area. We then gathered them together in October and asked them about their expectations about the POTEs network. There are indeed many: meeting together, exchanging ideas and learning from others, cross-fertilising projects, germinating ideas that do not yet exist and developing new projects!

Addressing major issues and societal challenges often involves carrying out experiments and practical projects that are then used as benchmarks to implement and boost the transition locally. In terms of transition management, these are called ground-breaking projects, i.e. projects that enable us to explore alternative practices and radically different means of meeting social needs, now and in the future. Projects that break new ground and make room for new practices.

Setting up the POTEs network and giving it all the space it needs to come up with new innovation paths has involved identifying and implementing a number of actions with the facilitation team and the POTEs:

  • Organising creative POTEs meetings
  • Designing an interactive map of POTEs to help them know each other and get in touch.
  • Organising visits to the POTEs with time earmarked to cross-fertilise projects and develop new ones.
  • Encouraging exchanges with other ground-breaking socio-cultural movements or initiatives in France and in Europe like the TES programme in the Pays de Loire Region or the “transitioners”, etc.

Let’s hope that the POTEs will make a difference in accelerating the Transition towards a Positive Energy Region by 2050!

© photos : Région Bourgogne Franche-Comté - Energy Cities - TeamWork_©shutterstock

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