Deep Transitions in The Netherlands

As is becoming increasingly apparent, the world faces multiple, substantial challenges. Human life is threatened by climate change, economic growth is reaching its limits due to resource depletion, and growing social inequalities in and between countries and regions are a growing cause for tension and conflict. In order to develop a sustainable and inclusive society, a comprehensive transformation or deep transition of society is crucial.

Mass consumption, mechanization, fossil fuel usage and presumed unlimited resources have generated a high level of welfare and wellbeing, however these classic principles, derived from two centuries of industrialization, have interfered with developments towards a sustainable society which would feature a more equal distribution of means and resources.

Researchers from Utrecht, Eindhoven and Wageningen Universities are analyzing the sociotechnical development of the Netherlands from a long-term perspective and simultaneously developing system transformation investments strategies for policy makers, industries and investors. This is the Deep Transitions in the Netherlands Project.


Deep Transitions in The Netherlands consists of two interrelated projects; the first encompasses a research program on the First Deep Transition, which began with the industrial revolution. Today’s societal challenges are placed in its historical context, and we investigate the explanations of their root causes. The second sub-project is aimed at future interventions; based on the historical investigations of the initial research and in consultation with a range of societal partners (among others Ministry of EZK, ASML, Urgenda, TNO, CBS, SHT, Dasym, Rathenau) investment strategies will be developed that contribute to a sustainable and inclusive society. Together with Dasym we plan to set-up a Deep Transition Investors Panel.

Furthermore, the Deep Transitions in the Netherlands project connects to ongoing international research being undertaken and impact generated by its sister Deep Transitions Global Project. The theorical framework used in this project analyzes the society-wide embedding of the aforementioned classic principles and the origins and evolution of deep transitions. At its core are system changes derived from and shaping consumer behaviour, business strategies, governmental policies and cultural development.A second theoretical notion in the Dutch project are the concepts of Wellbeing and Sustainability (in Dutch Brede Welvaart) developed by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). This conceptualization investigates the implications of Deep Transitions and connected temporal and sustainability trade-off processes.

In spring 2022 a research program including work packages will be presented on a central research question: how did the process of the First Deep Transition in the Netherlands develop and what are the implications in developing a Second Deep Transition and possible steps towards a sustainable future?

To receive further information, please register your interest in the project by sending an email to Nicky Wunderlich at