About Deep Transitions Futures

Deep Transitions Futures uses the findings of Deep Transitions History to explore a set of future scenarios that illustrate the transformations needed to combat the great challenges of our time. These scenarios are created and debated by the Deep Transitions Futures Project Team, made up of members of the sustainability transitions research community, and a Global Investors Panel, made up of thought-leaders from the private and public investment sector. Together, they strive to develop a new signature investment strategy for transformation, termed ‘Transformative Investment’, which places sustainability and socio-technical system change at its core.

Deep Transitions Futures is a collaboration between  the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at  the University of Sussex Business School in the UK, and the Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe) in the Netherlands. It is supported by James Anderson and Baillie Gifford & Co and led by Professor Johan Schot, Professor Ed Steinmueller and Susanne Keesman.


Both the public and private financial sectors have a critical role to play in transforming our systems of provision in a way that contributes to the fundamental changes needed to fight climate change, species depletion, unsustainable waste production, and rising inequalities.

The Deep Transition Futures Research Project is premised on the assumption that we live at a watershed moment in history, in which the public and private investment communities have a choice: either prolong and extend the current development trajectory, or start to invest collectively into ‘transforming our world’ – the strapline of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

Present sustainable investment approaches, such as impact investment, aim to meet these challenges by seeking to add social and environmental impacts as success factors to growth-based financial and economic models. However, these approaches are not sufficiently transformative to address the great challenges of our time. Investments focused on transformation are needed to enable a Second Deep Transition – a fundamental re-ordering of society as a response to the problems created by modernisation.

Johan Schot

Founder of the Deep Transitions Research Project

"This project has vast ambitions, taking a novel and bold approach to develop a new investment philosophy. We are striving for long-term transformation. Naturally, the process will come with uncertainties. And yet, exploring new horizons, developing radical and innovative ideas and embracing unusual collaborations and opportunities like this one, are the paths that need to be taken if we are to forge a better future."


Over the last three years, Deep Transitions History has explored the mechanisms that have brought about the First Deep Transition – the transition that led to industrial modernity and which informs all of today’s socio-techno systems (i.e. transport, energy, food). These results are now being used to explore a set of radical future scenarios or alternative worlds that emphasise the transformations needed to address global crises. These alternative worlds derive from a new type of scenario building methodology developed by the Deep Transitions Futures Project Team. 

In close collaboration with the Global Investors Panel, the Project Team tests and evaluates the different scenarios to validate their eligibility in representing our changing world. The most transformative, yet still robust scenario will then serve as a blueprint for developing a philosophy for ‘Transformative Investment’ that addresses the transformations needed to stir society towards such an alternative world. 

Deep Transitions Futures adheres to the principle that there are key actions and leverage points for generating impact. The new investment philosophy seeks to contribute to: 

The Deep Transition Futures methodology is considerate of and sensitive to varying socio-cultural, economic and political contexts. The Global Investors Panel can help understand, create and inspire these, using the panellists’ knowledge and resources to shape a desirable and inclusive strategy for a more sustainable world.

The Global Investors Panel Process

Learn More

To learn more about our work you can refer to the resources below for a more elaborate introduction and additional information about Deep Transitions Futures. Furthermore, we would be delighted if you shared the below resources with your organisation or wider network as well since we are keen to build up a Transformative Investment community. 

Get In Touch

Feel free to get in touch and share your thoughts with us. Our project is unprecedented and experimental. Therefore, we are keen to hear comments and feedback on our work. Should you have any additional questions about Deep Transition Futures or would like to engage with the team, please get in touch:

Susanne Keesman

Global Investors Panel Director and
Deep Transitions Project Manager