The overall objective of the PATHWAYS project is to provide policy-makers and other key stakeholders with better insight in on-going and necessary transition pathways for key domains relevant for EU policy. PATHWAYS focuses on a selected set of transition domains using a combination of linked scientific approaches.The PATHWAYS project will achieve this by means of the following concrete specific objectives:
  • provide a detailed mapping of key alternative transition pathways ( In terms of its technical, economic, political and social dynamics characteristics).
  • better understand the conditions needed for the development of socio-technical systems in a way that is consistent with rapid transitions towards sustainable development goals (the conditions include descriptions of regimes, niches and landscape related to these transitions).
  • Explore how insights and activities of key actors can be harnessed (Specifically by analysing how the limitations of current policies can be overcome by a stronger focus on the involvement of different stakeholders)
  • link integrated assessment modelling, transition studies and participative action research. In order to create an integrated, interdisciplinary chain of analysis which allows to deepen the understanding of transitions towards sustainable, low carbon societal systems.
  • use the findings to inform ‘transition policies’ in the EU (Amongst others in the form of well elaborated scenarios that are based on more realistic descriptions of policies and their impacts)

Project details

  • Project title: “Exploring transitions pathways to sustainable, low carbon societies” (PATHWAYS)
  • Funding scheme: European Union Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7, grant agreement no. 603942)
  • Duration: 3 years (1 December 2013 – 30 November 2016)
  • Project coordinator: PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
  • Project website:
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Transition pathways are compared to the land use domain of the Netherlands and Portugal. The land use domain analyses land systems and the changes within them and typically involves the analysis of land cover and land use. 4 main regimes were identified, three of which are common to both: agriculture, nature, and urban, and one which is different for each. The Dutch and Portuguese niches under study are all examples of regime transformation niches.

Comparing the observed transition pathways in the agro-food domain in the Netherlands and Hungary investigates niche innovations from both countries and provides insight into the potential ways toward a sustainable and low carbon society. Differences and similarities between the countries can be explained by the following: societal issues, export vs. import, the government environment, the focus of policy, government involvement, and geographical context. Innovation is the best chance for direct progress to reduce the pressure.

In the PATHWAYS project, empirical transition pathways have been compared to ideal-type transition pathways. All analyses use the multi-level perspective (MLP) to explain similarities and differences between the different countries. One of the domains considered is land-based passenger mobility, with empirical transition pathways from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

In this article, heat energy transition pathways in the UK, Germany and Sweden have been compared by evaluating empirical to ideal scenarios. Heat energy transition is the core of the energy transition, as heating is currently the most energy-intensive activity in Europe.