The word ‘transformative’ has entered current discourse from several directions, most recently in the European Green Deal which promises ‘deeply transformative’ policies. Before that, various analyses of the slow progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals concluded that ‘transformative changes’ would be required if humanity is to secure a sustainable future.
The failure to reverse trends to worsening climate disruption and biodiversity loss is also said to require transformative change. But in steering national and regional societies, new words or concepts need to be translated into policy and action.
Policy-makers and their public need to understand why ‘transformative’ or ‘transformational’ change is necessary if they are to support the conclusions of the advocates of change; otherwise these words risk becoming just another catch phrase.