Network of sustainability initiatives in Transylvania

Environmental sustainability, Entrepreneurship, Poverty and social exclusion, Employment

This initiative is based on connecting and scaling local innovations in Southern Transylvania, Romania, through a transdisciplinary research engagement in the area, in different words it is about creating a network of local innovations to pave Transylvania’s pathway to sustainability through a science-society partnership. The main goal is to create a safe interfacing space that supports and connects those engaged in transformation in Transylvania. The broader objectives are: i) social learning that leads to local empowerment; ii) an impulse for societal transformation recognising the efforts of the local practitioners of change. The main intervention points are the relationships between practitioners of change in Southern Transylvania and the relationships at the level of rural communities; and surfacing underlying held values. Two research projects contributed to strengthening the network of sustainability-related initiatives in Transylvania: - Sustainable landscapes in Central Romania: Transdisciplinary research agenda to foster sustainable development in Eastern Europe, with particular emphasis on ancient agricultural landscapes in Central Romania. The project involved natural scientists, social scientists and regional stakeholders. The research team mapped biodiversity and the ecosystem services generated by it, and identified formal and informal institutions that can provide leverage points for enabling sustainable land use practices. - Leverage points for sustainability transformation: Transdisciplinary co-creation with more than 30 local NGOs and movements to lever local contributions to sustainability in the direction of the shared vision for Transylvania’s future.

Networking, Social media, Project management, Marketing & Promotion, Experimentation, Action-research.
Educational organizations, Grassroots organizations, Religious organization, International NGO, Local NGO, Local Business, Local Stakeholders.

Rural, long-term and consistent transdisciplinary engagement, locally deliberated and driven transformations. Improved social-relationships among agents of change.

Leverage points - Transdisciplinary case studies
• Blog post 18/03/2019: Could the long-term transdisciplinary engagement of a university make a difference in a place? • J. Fischer, A.I. Horcea-Milcu, D.J. Lang, L. Thale-Bombien, D.J. Abson, C.I. Apetrei, E. Clarke, P. Derwort, C. Dorninger, I. A. Duse, R. Freeth, N. W. Jager, K. Klaniecki, D. Lam, J. Leventon, J. Newig, D. Peukert, M. Riechers, T. Schaal (2019). Balance Brings Beauty. Strategies for a Sustainable Southern Transylvania Available at

Scientific publications:
• Loos, J., Abson, D. J., & Dorresteijn, I. (2016). Sustainable landscapes in Central Romania: a social-ecological study on the future of Southern Transylvania. Available at
• Andra I. Horcea-Milcu, David J. Abson, Ine Dorresteijn, Jacqueline Loos, Jan Hanspach & Joern Fischer (2017): The role of co-evolutionary development and value change debt in navigating transitioning cultural landscapes: the case of Southern Transylvania, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2017.1332985
• Lam, D.P.M., Horcea-Milcu, A.I., Fischer, J. et al. Three principles for co-designing sustainability intervention strategies: Experiences from Southern Transylvania. Ambio (2019).

"Under this long-term ongoing a science|society cooperation, ties at rural community level and between Southern Transylvania's practitioners of change were strengthened through innovative approaches (e.g. design-based). By working with farmers’ associations and rural communities, the transdisciplinary partnership between the university and the local change agents has also developed a shared understanding of land stewardship and the notion of ‘a common good’. Mutual learning enabled contributions towards building the local identity, empowerment and perceptions on agency. The partnership also aims to improve the dialogue of the newly surfaced and consolidated network of the practitioners of change in Southern Transylvania with the local Government, municipalities, and policymakers. To this end, an outreach publication of success stories on transformational strategies for moving closer to a sustainable future in Southern Transylvania was published in February 2019."

* Information at the level of NUTS 3 or local regions.