2019 Transition Engineering Convergence

It must be clear by now that action on climate change is needed, that society expects that somebody will take action, and that the only people who can effectively and rationally change the unsustainable systems we are all using are the people who know how they work. 

The first Convergence for Carbon Transition was held on 21 November 2019. A convergence is a new type of conference and workshop that occurs simultaneously at different locations, and has the singular purpose of advancing carbon transition through discovering and exploring innovative shift projects. The convergence is different from a conference in that it is participatory and has a purpose of producing actionable outcomes. The convergence is different from typical workshops as participants co-create project descriptions with engineering and market relevance. The convergence is not about the problems of climate change and resource constraints other than translating the imperatives of change into quantitative project requirements. The working program is a series of mini-lectures with instructions, and rounds of deep diving work by teams focusing on different wicked problems. The convergence is itself an innovation in professional, interdisciplinary engineering collaborative learning and creating.

The 2019 Convergence for Carbon Transition was held at University of Canterbury, Victoria University, Wellington, and Auckland University of Technology. Zoom Meeting was used to connect the venues. The venues were university teaching and conference rooms. There was no advertising for the first Convergence, there was no catering, no badges, no sponsors and no registration fees. The Conference was organized by a group of volunteers, academics and postgraduate students from the universities and professional engineers from GATE, ESR, EWB, EngNZ, NZGBC, and TSS. The Convergence was a trial run of the programme and design, and part of the preparatory work for a Global Convergence for Carbon Transition in 2020. The 2019 Convergence was attended by 65 engineers from a range of disciplines. The 2019 Convergence demonstrated the concept and highlighted many design challenges with the no-travel format that will be improved for the future. All venues had successful shift project outcomes. The feedback from attendees was positive, with many expressing that the day provided a new and inspiring way to deal with the wicked problems.

in cities:

  • Food - focusing on the Breakfast meal
  • The 3 Waters - drinking water, storm water and sanitation
  • Shelter - affordable, decent housing
  • Access to Activities and Goods - personal transportation

The Convergence uses the Interdisciplinary Transition Innovation, Management and Engineering (InTIME) methodology as pioneered by GATE and published in the book, Transition Engineering, Building a Sustainable Future (2009, CRC Press). Transition Engineering is currently taught at SIT in Invercargill and UC. In 2020 a micro-qualification with 5 point modules that can be delivered by distance learning will be developed and made available. The Convergence is an important part of the new field of Transition Engineering, where experienced and new practitioners can learn, experiment and improve. Everyone can be inspired by experiencing the knowledge that engineering can prevent what is preventable.

The project from 2012, From the Ground Up, was found to be a good model for an integrated approach to the problems of the transition of the city. 


The shift project of no-travel activities is a hallmark of TE. This convergence was an investigation of no-travel workshops, but we are continuing also with our investigation of the no-fly e-CO2Nference. The no-fly e-CO2Nference was actually first developed by Susan Krumdieck, Shannon Page and the organising team of the Signs of Change in 2010. Watch a documentary about it HERE.