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Towards European Societal Sustainability (TESS)

TESS will explore the potential role of local and regional initiatives in building a more sustainable, low-carbon society

The aim of TESS is to investigate the role of community-based transition initiatives in fostering a more low-carbon and sustainable Europe. TESS is a European Union project funded under the Seventh Framework Programme, and comprises partners from Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Scotland, and Spain. It runs from December 2013-2016.

Project Objectives

· To explore the social, environmental, technical, economic and political dimensions and practices of community-based initiatives in order to better understand their effects, and the factors that contribute to their emergence, maintenance and up-scaling. 

· To investigate how transition initiatives interact with current institutional and policy arrangements at different scales, and identify which are most conducive for initiatives' establishment and development.   

· To fill the gap on measuring, reporting and validating carbon reductions at the scale of community-based initiatives. In the process, TESS will also support initiatives in monitoring and reporting on their environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions.

·To engage with community-based initiatives, academics, policy-makers and a range of other interest groups in sharing and debating TESS project findings.


The project team involves, amongst others, sociologists, geographers, community development practitioners, climate change and transition specialists, psychologists, anthropologists, systems modellers, and economists, who will be generating research from across six richly diverse regions in Europe. The project methodology will therefore be comparative and interdisciplinary in its orientation, incorporating: 

· Mapping of community based transition initiatives across the 6 study regions.

· Qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork to explore the effects brought about by transition initiatives, and the complex social and political relations, technical practices, and institutional landscapes that inflect how they emerge.

· An environmental, social, technical, political and economic impact assessment that will incorporate a framework for measuring emissions at community level.

Further details

For further details about the TESS project, please see the project website ( and the associated online platform ( 

Staff Involved

Liz DinnieAnke FischerKirsty HolsteadPetra LackovaRobin MatthewsJoshua MsikaAnnabel PinkerBill Slee

Key Contact

Liz Dinnie

Project Information
Project Type: 
Archived Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.