Sustainability transitions cannot succeed without a different economy and a new social contract with rights and obligations of today with regard to care for the environment and the well-being of others, including that of future generations. A Natural Social Contract is not only desirable from the point of view of sustainability, justice and equality, but it is also necessary to restore the trust of citizens in politics, government, businesses, and in each other.
The core message of my book Towards a Natural Social Contract (2021) is that sustainability transitions cannot succeed without a different economy and a new social contract with rights and obligations of today with regard to care for the environment and the well-being of others, including that of future generations. A Natural Social Contract is not only desirable from the point of view of sustainability, justice and equality, but it is also necessary to restore the trust of citizens in politics, government, businesses, and in each other. This book shows that this is not only a desirable, but also a feasible perspective and future vision.
The book advocates an integrated and holistic perspective on the SDG agenda, and examines the way in which various transition paths aimed at specific SDGs are interdependent. For example, issues of social and environmental justice and security (SDG 16) are an integral part of various sustainability transition, such as the agri-food transition (SDG 2, 12 and 15), energy transition (SDG 7) and transition to circular and regenerative economies and cultures (SDG 8, 9 and 12). The book provides in-depth understanding and propositions on how these transitions can be realized, in particular through transformative and co-evolutionary governance, with specific attention to issues of politics, power and justice in transitions. These issues are directly related to SDGs 1, 11, 16 and 17.
The book also challenges us to think beyond the 2030 agenda, in particular about the question whether compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals should be considered as the ultimate goal of the sustainability transition, or whether we should be more explicit on what is beyond the 2030 Agenda. A vision of a future society, and by explicit judgements of value concerning the character of this future society, are important for shaping social change. A Natural Social Contract and the related concept of Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation, as proposed in this book, serve as a vehicle to think about ways to improve current social contracts, targeting a sustainable, regenerative, healthy and just society. This can help policymakers, administrators and decision makers, concerned citizens, and professionals to make better decisions about how to organize our twenty-first century society.
My research receives public funding from the Netherlands Government, which has made open access publishing of research results mandatory in its research funding programmes.
Springer Nature has an impressive track record on Open Access publishing, and therefore serves a mutual benefit for increased readership, visibility and availability of my book, and hopefully leading to more impact.
Taken together the downloads from the Springer website and from my University’s website, has already added up to an amazing 30,000 downloads in the first year.
I am grateful for the support of my current employers, i.e. Maastricht University and Inholland University of Applied Sciences. The promotion took place through press releases, news items, interviews, and even a dedicated webpage on the Natural Social Contract. In addition, a number of esteemed colleagues in my fields of expertise have nominated my book for international book prizes. As a result, my book ‘Towards a Natural Social Contract’ (2021) has been awarded the prestigious Nautilus Book Award (Gold Medal) for best book of the year 2022 in the category 'World Cultures' Transformational Growth & Development'. In turn, this has resulted in various interviews on radio, television and newspapers, as well as a number of keynote presentations on international conferences.
Absolutely, since my work is largely funded by government, I consider open access publishing not only a moral duty to taxpayers and fellow citizens, but also an ethical commitment to make my work equally available (without any charge) to anyone who has an interest, thus also for those with a smaller budget.
Prof. Dr. Patrick Huntjens is an award-winning author and Professor of Governance of Sustainability Transitions, a Personal Chair at Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI), School of Business and Economics (SBE), Maastricht University. Patrick is also Professor of Social Innovation and Governance for Sustainability at Inholland University of Applied Sciences. In this role, he was awarded the national title of ‘Professor of the Year 2021’. He currently serves as Chairman of the National Round Table on the Food Transition (2021-2025) by DuurzaamDoor, a multistakeholder knowledge and innovation programme by the Netherlands Government. For his most recent book Towards a Natural Social Contract (2021) he has received the prestigious Nautilus Book Award (Gold Medal) for best book of the year 2022 in the category 'World Cultures' Transformational Growth and Development'.