Manifesto for Transformative Social Innovation


The Manifesto for Transformative Social Innovation Version 0.1 has been written by people involved in a number of networks, initiatives and research groups that focus on initiating, facilitating and/or understanding transformative change and social innovation towards more sustainable, just and resilient societies.

Between 2014 and 2017 we collaborated in the TRANSIT research project.  During these 4 years, a group of over 25 researchers studied 20 translocal networks, including over 100 initiatives spread across 25+ countries, mostly in Europe, Latin-America and a few other countries. Several hundreds of people involved in these initiatives and networks have cooperated with interviews, shared documents and welcomed researchers to participate in meetings and activities of these movements.

This manifesto is inspired by insights, examples and experiences from these networks and initiatives. A more comprehensive overview and summary of all networks and initiatives under study, including the research methods used, is provided here.


On the 14-15th of September, TRANSIT’s final conference ‘Learning for Change’ took place in Rotterdam, where there was a gathering of researchers, activists, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and other individuals who share an interest in social change. The idea of a manifesto was used as an entry point to share, compare and debate thoughts and experiences on the delights and challenges of transformative social innovation. Several versions of the manifesto were shared before and after the event, and people were invited to provide input during multiple feedback rounds:

June 2017
In June 2017, a very first draft of the manifesto was shared with all 25+ TRANSIT researchers who were invited to comment and provide input based on their interviews and participant observations in the networks and initiatives under study.

July 2017
In July 2017,  a second draft of the manifesto was shared with practitioners involved in the networks and initiatives under study, who were invited to provide input and comments via email, a Word Document and/or to directly edit an open Google Document.

September 2017

Beginning of September 2017, before the TRANSIT conference, a third version of the manifesto was shared with all 250 people who registered for the conference, all of whom were invited to participate in a ‘manifesto practitioner’s assembly’. During the assembly, over 60 people across 10 tables discussed the content and process of the manifesto and provided feedback. Each table was facilitated by a table host and a note-taker. The notes of the tables were collected and used as input for the final draft of this Manifesto version 0.1.

After the conference, on the 19th of September 2017, more than 200 people who had participated in the assembly or in the conference, or who had been involved before but not able to participate in the event, were invited to directly comment and edit the final version of the Google Document. These comments and edits that were received in the Google Document and via email were processed in the final draft of this Manifesto version 0.1.


The communication around the different versions, the processing of the feedback and comments, and the preparation of the discussion meetings, were conducted by Flor Avelino, Derk Loorbach and Chiao-Jou Lin.



Version 0.1 of the manifesto is based on feedback from many different people in various interviews and meetings over the years (see background & process above). Since the first manifesto draft in June 2017, we have received direct written input, comments and edits via email, Word Documents and open editable Google Documents, from the following 50 people (in alphabetical order):

Adina Dumitru
Adrian Smith
Alex Haxeltine
Antonia Proka
Ariel Gordon
Bálint Balázs
Bela Bartha
Ben Whelan
Bonno Pel
Carla Cipolla
Claudian Dobos
Chiao-Jou Lin
Derk Loorbach
Edina Vadovics
Ezio Manzini
Filipa Pimentel
Flor Avelino

Francisco Santos
Henry Owen
Julia Wittmayer
Karlijn Schippers
Iris Kunze
Isabel Lema Blanco
Jens Dorland
Jotte de Koning
Julia Backhaus
Kristoffer Højsleth
Lili Balogh
Lucas Becerra
Mellouki Cadat
M. Sogaard Jorgensen
Morten Elle
Nilufar Bulut
Paul Weaver

Philipp Späth
Rene Kemp
Ricardo Garcia Mira
Robert Hall
Roel van Raak
Sabine Hielscher
Salvatore Vetro
Sarah Rach
Saskia Ruijsink
Seda Yalcin
Sem Oxenaar
Tim O’Riordan
Tim Strasser
Timo von Wirth
Tom Bauler
Tunde Kallai
Wolfgang Höschele

Below we list the networks under study and the research institutes involved in the TRANSIT research project. This manifesto is not a formal declaration of these organisations. Rather this manifesto has been written and edited by individual researchers and activists in a personal capacity.

20 Translocal Networks working on social change under study in TRANSIT


Network for financial support to social entrepreneurs 

Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN)
Connects people committed to basic income and fosters informed discussion 

Credit Unions
Different types of credit cooperatives

Network for design for social innovation and sustainability 

European Network of Living Labs
co-creative, human-centric and user-driven research, development and innovation 

Digital fabrication workshops open to local communities

Global Ecovillage Network
Network of eco-villages and other intentional communities  

User driven digital fabrication workshops

Impact Hub
Global network of social entrepreneurs

International network of sustainable energy  NGOs 

International Co-operative Association|
Associations that co-work in the production of sustainable inclusive habitats.

Living Knowledge Network
Network of science shops and community-based research entities

Participatory Budgeting
Network of communities and municipalities reinventing how public money is spent and prioritized 

Network for the promotion of social solidarity economy

Seed Exchange Network
Protects biodiversity by defending seed freedom for integrity, self-organization and diversity 

Shareable – Sharing Cities
Connecting and empowering urban sharing initiatives aiming for a sharing transformation 

Slow Food
Linking food to a commitment to sustainable local and global development 

Time Banks
Networks facilitating reciprocal service exchange

Transition Towns
Grassroots communities working on ‘local resilience’ 

La Via Campesina
Aiming for family farming to promote social justice and dignity

12 Research Groups involved in TRANSIT


Dutch Research Institute for Transition; Erasmus University of Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Science, Society & Sustainability Research Group; University of East Anglia, UK

Aalborg University, Denmark

International Centre for Integrated Assessment & Sustainable Development; Maastricht University, the Netherlands

Institute for Housing & Urban Development; Erasmus University of Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Centre for Studies on Sustainable Development; Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

Science Policy Research Unit; University of Sussex, UK

Study Institute of Science & Technology; Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

People-Environment Research Group
Universidade da Coruña, Spain

Centre for Global Change and Sustainability; BOKUUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria

Environmental Social Science Research Group; SME, Hungary