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Accelerating the climate transition in difficult contexts: transition super-labs (pilot)


First suggested by the High-Level Panel of the European Decarbonisation Pathways Initiative, Transition Super Labs are a novel way of linking research and innovation with policy. They are particularly relevant for challenges that defy purely technocratic solutions and require fundamental transformations in economies and societies, including lifestyle and behavioural changes or forms of social innovation. Anchored in the EU’s research and innovation framework program, they provide ample room for co-creation with Member States/Associated Countries, stakeholders and citizens.

Transition Super Labs are real-life laboratories where a rapid shift to climate neutrality is conceptualised, implemented, monitored and revised in an integrated way. Similar to “living labs” but operating at a much larger scale, they spur the transformation of whole entities – such as non-sustainable business complexes, mining regions and polluted metropolitan areas – in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

Designed as flagship demonstrators, Transition Super Labs involve a broad range of actors – businesses and industry, different levels of government, academia, civil society, citizens at large – working closely with communities and regions directly affected by climate change. They provide an ideal complement to mission-driven innovation in that they test systemic innovations at scale and in real-world conditions. Confronting concepts and ideas with technical, environmental and socioeconomic realities, they identify and help to overcome critical bottlenecks and cultural resistance while avoiding false ecological trade-offs.

This topic supports a set of pilot activities designed to prepare the launch of several fully-fledged transition super-labs at a subsequent stage.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH (including gender) experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.