Lauren Hermanus

Founding Director, How We Adapt

  • Contributor
  • Health


Lauren Hermanus is a sustainable development researcher and practitioner with 12 years of experience spanning the public and private sectors and academia. She has also worked extensively with IGOs and international development agencies, and civil society actors from the community to the international level and across scales.

Her work bridges gaps between different actors, working to support collaboration and shared understanding. Lauren has founded and operated a network-based research and advisory practice (How We Adapt) for the past six years. She works with various academic partners at the African Centre for Cities (University of Cape Town), The Centre for Sustainability Transitions (Stellenbosch University) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University).

Through How We Adapt, she has initiated the Just Urban Transitions project, funded by Agora Energiewende and connected to INETTT, which aims to understand and support the net-zero transition across levels of organisation in policy, planning and implementation, particularly for cities. She used this work to contribute to South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Partnership Investment Plan (JETP IP), drafting all urban investment content. Lauren has an academic background in complexity and systems thinking (Master of Arts in Philosophy) and development (Master of Philosophy in Development Policy and Practice).

Plugged into leading centres of thought on system change, transitions and transformation, Lauren works across scales from national policy development implementation and strategy development for multinational companies to working at localised niches in both the private sector and various communities. Her work spans issues of sustainable transitions, energy systems, green economy, climate resilience, and adaptive and anticipatory governance. She has co-founded a non-profit climate and transition think tank, focused on just transitions across the Global South.


Where are you focusing your energy right now?

I am spending a lot of time thinking about what a just transition to a climate-compatible world might be in the context of multiple layered inequalities and skewed distributions of power and agency.

What is your area of expertise?

I work at the intersection of climate change, transition (systems change) and human development (with all the caveats on the complexity and contest regarding that term).

How do you contribute to Basecamp for Health System Transformation?

I facilitated a session on uncertainty and the ways in which it shapes our plans for system change and how to be more conscious and responsible in light of its profound impact.

What's your current inquiry question about?

I think I am always thinking about what I am unable to think, in my own capacity, in my various communities, and in our diverse and fractured global society; the limits of sense-making always call to me as a focus.

What are your go-to resources?

I am currently really focused on perspectives that help me to articulate more clearly, the interconnected dynamics that have brought us to this moment of planetary poly-crisis. Two books that I keep on my desk are, Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway (the first half of the book) and The Nutmeg's Curse by Amitav Ghosh.

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