Tracing Sustainability Transitions in Seoul Governance: Enabling and Scaling Grassroots Innovations

In Procedia Engineering
Volume (Issue): 198
Peer-reviewed Article

In 2011, the newly elected Seoul Mayor introduced administrative reforms that breathed new life into a series of grassroots initiatives. High-profile reforms helped strengthen the connection between Seoul’s government, environment, and citizenry and the collection of reforms spurred changes that were pivotal to reorienting Seoul development trajectory. This article draws upon sustainability transitions literature to trace process enabling this reorientation. It highlights the critical role played by change agents such as Seoul Mayor in working at the boundary of ‘regimes’ and ‘niches’ to enable wider scale change; while citizen engagement can broaden grassroots innovation’s impacts. It further underscores how key enablers in the transitions process can help scale changes to and within regime level. The paper, however, draws a subtle but under-examined distinction between organizational and institutional change within the regime level. This within-level distinction could be the difference between a sustainability transitions that changes Seoul as well as other cities in the future.