Creating a sustainable and just future necessitates a transformation in how people interact with the Earth system and one another. Yet there is no “one-size fits all” approach; different regions with different contexts and values are likely to follow different pathways. These will give rise to both tensions and opportunities as the outcomes of those regional pathways interact. To navigate these multiple and diverse transitions, we need a better understanding of how local pathways interact with global processes to produce outcomes for people and nature. Here, we suggest how science and policy can increase capacity to navigate towards a sustainable future by envisioning diverse desirable futures, nurturing seeds of sustainability, and navigating emerging pathways to sustainable and just futures.