Transition Support System approach

Cities are growing, the unstable climate is threatening food production, and the challenge of providing enough healthy food for the population of 2050 is looming on the horizon. These are issues that are facing urban areas across the globe, with no standard solution. After all, we are dealing with processes of change that often take more than 20 years. However, there is a standard approach that can be used to cultivate a widely supported vision of the future in our region: the Transition Support System approach.

What makes the TSS approach so effective is the active role and expertise of you and other stakeholders, combined with our decision support methods and techniques. This approach assists you and other stakeholders in making broadly supported decisions in the areas of policy and strategy for shaping a shared vision for future. The knowledge, data, and information you and your stakeholders contribute is indispensable in this process.

The advantage of the TSS approach is that policy and strategy are adopted and adapted in close collaboration with stakeholders, with the support of in-depth analyses, such as spatial insights into land use and statistical materials for specific sectors or population groups. This lays the foundation for developments and effects regarding prospective actions. Extreme examples of prospective actions can be discussed and developed in further detail. During this process, the composition of the group of stakeholders can be adjusted in line with the prospective actions.

The 5 steps of the Transition Support System approach

The Transition Support System approach will enable Wageningen Economic Research to guide regions towards sustainable, reliable, and high-quality food systems.

TSS - Urgency

Step 1: Urgency

The TSS approach begins with the realisation of the urgency of a host of issues, such as climate change, population growth in cities, and food security.

One or more organisations, such as government agencies or the business community, can address this urgency. The associated questions often vary greatly: How can we consistently provide enough healthy food for everyone in the future? How can urban areas prepare themselves for severe flooding and extreme drought? How can we utilise our resources efficiently?

In order to answer the questions arising from all these issues, a policy evaluation and analysis of relevant social trends and stakeholders, as well as their positions within the transition process, is required. Using this as a basis, it is possible to create a group of stakeholders.

TSS - Scenario

Step 2: Scenario analysis

Based on this urgency, we provide insights into a variety of future scenarios. These may also be global scenarios in which the consequences for the region (urban/rural) are discussed. For example, we use the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) from IPCC for the future of food security due to population growth and climate change.

In this context, the group of relevant stakeholders determines the desired future scenario, with each stakeholder incorporating their own interests. In addition, the stakeholders also identify the specific prospective actions (such as government policy and business/organisational strategies) that they aim to achieve.

TSS - Analyses

Step 3: In-depth analysis

In the third step, your questions are used to further develop the consequences of the prospective actions, with the use of spatial/statistical insights into the landscape, natural setting, citizen groups, geographical locations, or economic sectors.

In order to do this, we use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods and techniques. These provide insight into the various future scenarios, such as in the case of population growth over a defined period of time with regard to food production, food demand, pricing, and trade.

TSS - Future

Step 4: Insight into future directions (selected strategy and policy)

During this stage, we clarify the impact of various prospective actions. The stakeholders jointly discuss the effects of these. In doing so, they determine whether these effects are desirable or if a different approach is preferred.

If necessary, this may lead to the joint identification of new prospective actions and changes to the basic principles, as well as the collection of additional data to be used in the calculations.

TSS - Impact evaluation

Step 5: Impact evaluation

Finally, each implemented strategy and selected policy are evaluated based on the impact achieved in comparison to the desired impact. The feedback is then used as new input for one of the steps above: redefining objectives (step 1), additional or new insights from future scenarios (step 2), additional or new in-depth analyses (step 3), or adapting future pathways (step 4), see figure 3. This also involves reviewing which stakeholders must be involved at that time. In doing so, the acquired insights enable strategies and policy to be adapted.