Transition management and the sustainable nutrients economy in the Netherlands: positioning paper

Thomas Hoppe, Maarten J. Arentsen, M. Mikkila, L. Linnanen

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional


In this positioning paper transition management (TM) and the sustainable nutrient economy are addressed. We discuss TM from its scholarly origins in the 1990’s to its implementation as a comprehensive sector-wide policy program on sustainability in The Netherlands during the first decade of the 2000´s. Although the program was innovative and provoked a new approach to environmental policy and governance, the program at large failed to set the right conditions under which sustainable transition take place. Lessons from the Netherlands, both successful and less successful, are addressed in this positioning paper to inform Finnish governmental and knowledge institutes on how (not) to implement TM on environmental issues. When looking at sustainable nutrient economy the paper takes a historical view at how problems with nutrients (especially phosphates) were dealt with in the Netherlands during the post World War II era. This transition did not occur easily. In the agricultural sector environmental policies to prevent nutrient problems were not easily accepted, as large agricultural economic interests were at stake and the sector’s main actors were generally opposed to (radical) environmental transition. Currently, sustainable nutrient economy initiatives are starting to receive attention on the political agenda once again. In 2011 a sector- and chain-wide covenant was signed, showing that sustainable nutrient transition goals get commitment from stakeholders throughout the nutrient chain. We judge that TM provides useful elements that are applicable to Finnish governance modes to support sustainable nutrient economy transition. However, the Finnish government should be careful when implementing TM to prevent making the same mistakes the Dutch government made in previous years.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLappenranta University, Finland
PublisherLappenranta University of Technology
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)978-925-265-300-0
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameTutkimusraportti Research report
PublisherLappenranta University of Technology, Faculty of Technology


  • METIS-289235
  • IR-82261


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