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Transformational Change Methodology

Transformational Change Methodology

The concept of transformational change has gained traction among climate change and sustainable development decision makers and practitioners, in recognition of the fundamental, radical changes in economic activity required to meet the global goals for climate and sustainable development. Transformational change refers to system change, rather than singular, stand-alone development, and involves multiple actors at multiple levels of society.


The Transformational Change Methodology defines transformational change for GHG mitigation and unpacks this definition to provide a stepwise approach to determining the extent to which a policy is truly transformational. The methodology has been met with interest by governments, financial institutions and programmes as a basis for assessing the expected or achieved transformational impact of policies and investments towards alignment with the global goals. The methodology is applicable to all sectors, policies and actions.


The Transformational Change Methodology is also accompanied by the newly developed Transformational Change Toolkit, which facilitates the application of the methodology and provides further support and guidance on the assessment process. Interested users are encouraged to use both the methodology and toolkit at the same time.



The Transformational Change Toolkit

The Transformational Change Toolkit is a set of tools that operationalize and expand the ICAT Transformational Change Methodology. The toolkit supports the assessment of potential transformational impacts of a wide range of climate policies, actions, and projects. These are referred to as interventions in the toolkit. The conceptual framework of the toolkit was developed in collaboration with the UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre (UNEP-CCC), Perspectives Climate Research, Carbon Limits, and Climate SI.

Contents of the ICAT Transformational Change Methodology

Chapters 1 & 2
What is the guidance and why should I use it?
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This section introduces the purpose and intended users of the guidance, and discusses the types of policies or actions that the guidance can be applied to. It also explains the objectives that the users may have in assessing the extent of transformational change. Determining the assessment objectives is an important first step because decisions made later during the assessment are guided by the stated objectives.

Chapter 3
What is transformational change
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This section introduces the concept of transformational change in the context of emissions mitigation and sustainable development. The guidance also defines transformational change for the purposes of the assessment.

Chapter 4
Overview of the methodology
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The section gives an overview of the assessment steps and outlines the principles to guide users in the assessment. It also gives a few insights into assessment planning.

Chapter 5
How to describe the policy or action being assessed and the vision for transformational change
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This section provides guidance on how to describe the policy or action, and the vision for transformational change, decide whether to assess an individual policy or a package of related policies, and choose whether it is an ex-ante or ex-post assessment.

Chapter 6
How to choose which transformational change characteristics to assess
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This section presents a framework to understand transformational change characteristics. It defines the transformational change boundary and the assessment period, and has guidance to choose transformational change characteristics relevant for a policy or action.

Chapters 7 & 8
How to assess impacts ex-ante
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The section is meant for users undertaking an ex-ante assessment. It includes guidance on assessing the starting situation, which is useful to understand the extent to which a policy or action triggers a shift away from carbon intensive and unsustainable pathways. Barriers to transitioning the system and describing the starting situation for each transformational characteristic are both useful as a reference point here. The section then discusses steps for conducting an ex-ante assessment of policies to understand the extent of transformation expected in the future.

Chapter 9
How to assess impacts ex-post
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This section is applicable for users conducting an ex-post assessment. It provides guidance on assessing the starting situation to understand the degree to which a policy or action has triggered a shift away from the carbon intensity and unsustainable trajectory. It also describes the steps for conducting an ex-post assessment of a policy to understand the extent of transformation achieved.

Chapter 10 & 11
How to monitor performance over time and report the results
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Monitoring helps to follow the performance of a policy or action and determine whether it is on track. Reporting the results, methodology and assumptions used helps to ensure that the impact assessment is transparent and gives decision makers and stakeholders the information they need to properly interpret the results. This section helps users in developing a monitoring plan and tracking key indicators over time to assess progress and determine whether the policy is on course to achieve the desired transformational impacts. It also includes a list of recommended information to be included in an assessment report.

Chapter 12
How to interpret results to facilitate learning and decision making
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Interpreting the assessment results is important for learning and decision making to promote transformational change. This section provides guidance on how to understand assessment results and apply insights gained at different stages of planning and implementation in the policy and action cycle.

Examples of indicators for process and outcome characteristics
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This section provides examples of indicators for various process and outcome characteristics.

Additional guidance on stakeholder participation during the assessment process
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Stakeholder participation can enhance the assessment of transformational impacts of policies and actions. This section notes the steps in the assessment process where stakeholder participation is recommended, why it is important, and where to find additional guidance on it.

Glossary, abbreviations and acronyms, references, and contributors
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Glossary, abbreviations and acronyms, references, and contributors


Introduction video: Transformational Change and the ICAT Toolbox

Application of the ICAT Transformational Change Methodology in Argentina

Webinar on Sustainable Development and Transformational Change Assessment Guide