Fair Transitions is a new platform of Institutions for Open Societies (IOS) at Utrecht University, starting September 2022, involving more than 50 scholars. The aim of the platform is to radically rethink sustainable development and envision institutions for the future that safeguard not just ecological boundaries, but also boundaries of fair and just development – on equal and symmetrical terms. By facilitating an interdisciplinary dialogue among various faculties within Utrecht University, and with actors in society, the platform explores the question: How do institutions need to change in order to guarantee safe, inclusive and climate-resilient landscapes and social-ecological environments across the globe?
The basic assumption that underlies the platform is that environmental problems such as climate change are human or institutional problems, characterized by, or rather constitutive of, deeply unfair and unjust governance arrangements. In other words, we believe that existing governmental and market institutions must change and collaborate with informal, bottom-up institutions in new ways in order to achieve fairness and social justice, facing complex global challenges, such as climate change-related transformations that lead to shifts in people’s mobility, relationship between human and non-human species, and access, use and control of natural resources.