There are persistent calls across policy, industry and academia for urban water transitions in order to deliver increased sustainability, liveability and resilience. However, realisation of such transformational change is difficult, and there are a number of undesirable or unsuccessful transition trajectories that can manifest. Drawing on a contemporary stormwater quality management transition in South-East Queensland, Australia, this qualitative research paper provides an empirical exploration of a transition in struggle. The paper examines why and how this transition trajectory unfolded, focusing specifically on the evolution of culture, structure and practice changes from the 1970s to the present-day. The paper makes two scholarly contributions, firstly confirming the dynamic nature of transformational change and indicating the need to design transition initiatives across the culture, structure and practice domains to co-evolve and thereby build a robust and mutually reinforcing transition foundation. The results also reveal the critical role of regulation in providing a safety net for the transition and enabling continued progress even when commitment to policy goals wavers. These results also provide practical insight for practitioners engaged in the implementation of transition processes, and reveal the need for transition advocates to deliberately and proactively engage with regulatory frameworks to embed a novel practice.
- Sustainability transition