Governance innovation illustrated by Paris from above

Focus of the text

This article focuses on how to innovate governance in order to address system transitions.

The ongoing paradigm shift in society puts higher demands on decision-makers and governance. How to support innovation in governance to accelerate sustainable system transitions is outlined in a new paper from RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden.

Climate change and the destruction of ecological systems threaten our planet, and our society cannot continue to operate as usual. Society needs to deal with systemic challenges such as pandemics, migration waves, health, combined with growing income gaps and political instability. The challenges are urgent and increasingly complex, and in a dynamic world with interlinking systems, change is taking place rapidly, but not always towards a preferred more sustainable future.

The ongoing paradigm shift in society puts higher demands on institutions and organizations, decision-makers and citizens. Structural changes because of artificial intelligence, digitalization and globalization create technical challenges for business and the public sector, as well as increasing demands of a legal, ethical and governing nature. Whole societies of liberal democracies also risk being undermined by extremism and terrorist threats, propaganda and misinformation. We need new ways of governance.

Governance innovation is about addressing challenges in today’s institutional processes, policy and decision-making, resource integration, management and leadership, organizing, and resilience. Innovation in these processes increase societies capacity to make use of radical innovations, respond more rapidly to external and internal changes or threats, and increase the pace of sustainable system transitions. New frameworks for governance, anticipatory capacity and data-driven solutions, as well as innovation in regulations and steering models, enable a holistic approach to the challenges facing society in the short and long term.

Three areas to support governance innovation

In this paper three strategic approaches are identified, or areas that can assist in efforts to innovate governance. These three are a starting point that helps us understanding what and how we can address system transitions from a governance perspective with governance innovations.

1. Anticipation accelerator – envisioning a sustainable future
Anticipation accelerator is based on the field of future studies. Anticipation as a subject means developing, sorting and disseminating descriptions of processes/systems for expectation of how the “future” affects the present.

2. Data-driven society – achieving a sustainable transition with data as a resource
Effective use of data as a resource, a framing of the governance innovation puzzle, will enable us to move towards sustainable solutions and sustainable sociotechnical systems.

3. Policy lab – a method for innovating governance for a sustainable transition
Policy Lab contributes to the transition towards a more sustainable society by providing a method for innovating in governance. Policy lab can be a temporary initiative based on an individual project or a long-term permanent structure.


Petter Forsberg e-mail

External website


Impact areas

  • Policy & Planning
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Innovation


Here you find the whole paper by Petter Forsberg and Daniel Bengtsson, which the above article is based on.

Governance innovation for accelerated sustainable transitions > (2021)

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Toolbox Policy & Planning Methods for transition Governance innovation for accelerated sustainable transitions