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What do we know about the links between internal and external transformation for sustainability and climate action?

Cubes forming the word change but a hand is turning the cube with the letter G and makes it form the word Chance instead. Photo.

In a newly published article in Global Environmental Change, we collaborate with colleagues from LUCSUS and Karolinska Institute to critically review the scientific knowledge linking internal (‘individual’) and external (‘system’) transformations. A roadmap for advancing research, policy and practice is proposed.

Much of the debate on and policy approaches for sustainability and climate change have been historically framed by external, technical challenges. On the contrary, human inner dimensions to support external transformation have received relatively less attention. In this article, we map out the research linking internal and external transformations. We critically review how linkages (e.g. personal and planetary well-being) are portrayed and understood, including the scope, perspectives and approaches used to understand why, and how, internal change relates to sustainability and climate action.

Our study reveals that current approaches are fragmented and segregated across disciplines and that simplistic, one-way perspectives and relationships dominate. A roadmap to advance research, policy and practice is suggested. It highlights the importance of nourishing human inner qualities and capacities to effectively support external transformation.

Read the full article (open access).