Deep transitions futures

Deep Transitions Futures logoTremendous levels of investment will be needed to transform the current systems that our societies are built upon to become sustainable. 

Both the public and private financial sectors have a critical role to play in transforming our systems of provision in a way that contributes to the fundamental changes needed to fight climate change, species depletion, unsustainable waste production, and rising inequalities.

The Deep Transition Futures Research Project is premised on the assumption that we live at a watershed moment in history: either prolong and extend the current trajectory, or start to invest collectively into ‘transforming our world’ – the strapline of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

Present sustainable investment approaches, such as impact investment, aim to meet these challenges by seeking to add social and environmental impacts as success factors to growth-based financial and economic models. However, investments focused on transformation are needed to enable a Second Deep Transition: a fundamental re-ordering of society as a response to the problems created by modernisation.

Research Approach

Deep Transitions Futures uses the findings of the Deep Transitions History project to explore a set of future scenarios that illustrate the tranformations needed to combat the great challenges of our time.

These scenarios are created and debated by the Deep Transitions Futures Project Team, made up of members of the sustainability transitions research community, and a Global Investors Panel, made up of thought-leaders from the private and public investment sector. Together, they strive to develop a new signature investment strategy for transformation, termed ‘Transformative Investment’, which places sustainability and socio-technical system change at its core.

Over the last three years, Deep Transitions History has explored the mechanisms that have brought about the First Deep Transition – the transition that led to industrial modernity and which informs all of today’s socio-techno systems (i.e. transport, energy, food). These results are now being used to explore a set of radical future scenarios or alternative worlds that emphasise the transformations needed to address global crises. These alternative worlds derive from a new type of scenario building methodology developed by the Deep Transitions Futures Project Team. 

Launch Event

The global launch for the initiative took place on Wednesday 15 September. A wide range of participants joined the funder, founder and panel involved in the project to hear about the ambitions and plans for the new transformative investment philosophy to set the world to green recovery and growth. 


In close collaboration with the Global Investors Panel, the Project Team tests and evaluates the different scenarios to validate their eligibility in representing our changing world. The most transformative, yet still robust scenario will then serve as a blueprint for developing a philosophy for ‘Transformative Investment’ that addresses the transformations needed to stir society towards such an alternative world. 

Deep Transitions Futures adheres to the principle that there are key actions and leverage points for generating impact. The new investment philosophy seeks to contribute to: 

  • Changes in beliefs, norms, expectations and routines to create new ones that are orientated towards sustainable development.
  • Levering change through collective, interdisciplinary action that are directed towards identified desirable sustainable future scenarios.


Deep Transitions Futures is a collaboration between the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the UK, and the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe) in the Netherlands. It is supported by James Anderson and Baillie Gifford & Co.

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