The grassroots of sustainable transition: a generic approach to describe local energy initiatives in the Northern Netherlands

Tineke van der Schoor, Bate Boschma, Heico van der Blonk (First author), Mieke Oostra, Alexander van Spyk

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There is growing realisation amongst local communities that the organizations and societies within which they live and work need to become more sustainable in order to secure their social, environmental and economic futures (Coyle 2011, Müller et al. 2011). The underlying motivations vary but are often traceable to an increased need for certainty or security. The search for solutions is in part practically orientated towards resilience to different forces of decline. Whilst sometimes manifested in individuals it is more often evident within local initiatives seeking common ground and related to perceived needs for local independence or increased self-determination (Musall & Kuik 2011, Seyfang & Haxeltine 2012). In our project and in this paper, our focus is on local initiatives as opposed to developments at regional or strategic scales. In the Northern Netherlands such local initiatives are often comprised of village residents or more heterogeneous groups from the wider rural community, with local initiatives co-existent in urban areas and cities. Local initiatives may focus on different sustainability issues (or a combination of them), such as transportation, energy, water, natural environment, food production, solid waste or the local economy (Coyle, 2011). However, many of these local initiatives focus on energy issues and solutions, while they might expand their interests to other issues after a prolonged existence. Therefore, in this paper we refer to these local or communal activities as Local Energy Initiatives (LEI’s) that are at the grassroots of sustainable transitions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2013
Event4th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions (IST) 2013 - Zürich, Switzerland
Duration: 19 Jun 201321 Jun 2013
Conference number: 4th


Conference4th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions (IST) 2013
Abbreviated titleIST2013


  • energy transition
  • grassroots
  • sustainability
  • local energy initiatives
  • the netherlands


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