The pandemic has further highlighted that we live in a globally connected world; our overreliance on economic growth and increasing levels of consumption has made us extremely vulnerable to and unprepared for different kinds of systemic shocks. Living in this era has underlined once more the urgency of accelerating transformative change towards sustainable and just futures worldwide by envisioning solutions that would cater to societal needs within the planet’s biophysical boundaries.
Furthermore, the growth of social and spatial polarization in both urban and rural areas is a rising challenge. Although new technologies offer hope, growing urban socio-spatial segregation and the decline of rural peripheries, pose major challenges for simultaneously addressing both climate change mitigation and adaptation and embedded social inequalities. Globally inclusive and just sustainability transformations are urgently needed - but how do we get there? Transformations also mean phasing out from the current non-sustainable practices while simultaneously nurturing and accelerating adoption of more sustainable ones, through active experimentation, piloting and accelerated diffusion of new promising solutions. This also requires responding to the new knowledge needs, and better taking into account different forms of knowledge, including indigenous and local knowledge.