Finding effective pathways to sustainable mobility: bridging the science–policy gap

S.A. Cohen, J.E.S. Higham, S. Gössling, PM Peeters, E Eijgelaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This overview paper examines three areas crucial to understanding why, despite clear scientific evidence for the growing environmental impacts of tourism transport, there is large-scale inertia in structural transitions and a lack of political will to enact meaningful sustainable mobility policies. These include the importance of addressing socio-technical factors, barriers posed by “technology myths” and the need to overcome “transport taboos” in policy-making. The paper seeks pathways to sustainable mobility by bridging the science–policy gap between academic research and researchers, and policy-makers and practitioners. It introduces key papers presented at the Freiburg 2014 workshop, covering the case for researcher engagement using advocacy and participatory approaches, the role of universities in creating their own social mobility policies, the power of social mechanisms encouraging long-haul travel, issues in consumer responsibility development, industry self-regulation and the operation of realpolitik decision-making and implementation inside formal and informal destination-based mobility partnerships. Overall, the paper argues that governments and the tourism and transport industries must take a more cautious approach to the technological optimism that fosters policy inertia, and that policy-makers must take a more open approach to implementing sustainable transport policies. A research agenda for desirable transport futures is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-334
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Climate change
  • desirable futures
  • socio-technical factors
  • technology myths
  • transport taboos


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