Day 3 – Friday 1st September
Petra Kuenkel, Sandra Waddock, Steve Waddell and Gerald Midgley
Poverty and inequity, climate change, civil and cross-border war are examples of large-scale complex system transformation challenges. Complex systems evolve in unpredictable ways because of non-linear dynamic interactions. Change involves large-scale interactions between multiple agents and agencies. Transformation refers to change that involves deep innovation in ways of thinking, acting, power structures and relationships.
Strategies to address complex problems are dominated by streams of investment and action that emphasize technological solutions based in linear, hierarchical, expert-driven, planned-to-predefined target, and solution roll-out approaches. However, complex challenges require (1) approaches that actively engage those affected, (2) manage constraints to enable emerging solutions that are adaptable and context-dependent with a clear focus on resilience, and (3) complement linear planning and implementation approaches with non-linear models and approaches. Complex change requires a palette of approaches to be applied, and new approaches or variants are required to create sustainable change.
In this practice session the four large system change experts, Sandra Waddock (Galligan Chair of Strategy, Boston College), Petra Kuenkel (Executive Director, Collective Leadership Institute and full member of the Club of Rome), Steve Waddell (Principal Networking Action), Gerald Midgley (Centre for Systems Studies, Business School) will explore a new scientific field aspiring to address the above challenges by (1) addressing various types of change (2) working at multiple levels, and (3) applying a range of strategies.
Susanne Moser and Dylan McGarry
Rapid acceleration of social change, from the local to the global scale, will be fundamental to any action to address the urgent social and ecological problems of the present age – from the ‘1.5°C’ challenge to the entire set of Sustainable Development Goals. Several significant research initiatives focus precisely on helping to accelerate transformations to sustainability, including Future Earth and the ISSC’s Transformations to Sustainability programme.
This session focuses on pulling together what we know about scaling up, diffusing and accelerating the adoption of practices that can help us stay below a 1.5°C temperature increase, and to do so in a socially just way. The session will provide an opportunity to share, discuss and prioritise interventions or strategies that can help propagate or accelerate the adoption of practices that contribute significantly to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Examples could be narratives, social media/marketing campaigns, policy initiatives, standards, training and other capacity building efforts, networking or scaling up of existing efforts, etc.
The objective of the session will be to collect and organize the knowledge and wisdom of the participants into an inspiring and well documented, jointly produced catalogue of possible ‘Practices to accelerate social change’. Conference participants with concrete experience of any tool, practice, intervention, etc., that has brought about an acceleration in processes of positive change are warmly encouraged to participate and, after the conference, to contribute to an ISSC-coordinated collective publication, describing the most promising examples of accelerating transformations to a just, liveable and sustainable world.
Margaret Barihaihi, Eva Ludi and Christophe Belperron
The Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA) has five years (2011-2016) of practical experience in transforming governance systems working in a way that is ‘inside and with’ rather than ‘on and from the outside’ of communities and institutions. ACCRA has combined strategies of participatory researching and learning; context-informed needs-driven capacity development; and policy influence. Partnerships have formed a central way of working and enabled these strategies to be deployed flexibly and responsively.
We will openly share and invite reflection on ACCRA’s story by drawing on a recent independent evaluation of the programme and stories of change told by ACCRA’s diverse stakeholders. We will consider the theme of ‘conceptualising sustainability transformations’ by looking at the ways ACCRA has conceptualised itself and the impact this has had on how ACCRA has worked and perceptions of it which have limited or increased ACCRA’s potential for transforming governance systems. We will also describe the conditions and practices of transformation that ACCRA has developed and what it has learnt about working across scales, sectors and types of institutions.
The session will bring ACCRA alive for participants through music and pre-recorded videos from stakeholders in Uganda, Mozambique and Ethiopia and will enable participants to ‘step into’ ACCRA‘s experience and ‘step out’ into their own experiences to reflect on what the ACCRA story is contributing to our understanding and practice of transformations.
Verena Hermelingmeier, Karoline Augenstein and Alexandra Palzkill.
In this experiential Practice Session we would like to let participants explore Design Thinking as a tool to co-design solutions for sustainable change. Design Thinking is a user-centred method as well as a working mindset. It is a tool to tackle challenges in a structured, yet creative way, it promotes collaborative modes of working and fosters out-of-the-box thinking. In this exemplary case, we would like to apply the methodology to the Urban Sharing Society, a concept that we believe will play an important role on the transformational agenda but yet needs to be filled with life through innovative ideas. The concept refers to an integrated approach of combining business models, new lifestyles and civil society initiatives of sharing in a specific urban context.
The main objective of the workshop is to introduce participants to the method of Design Thinking by letting them experience a ‘fast forward’ version of applying the method. Within one hour, participants will get a first feel for what Design Thinking is and how it can help to tackle sustainability challenges – in this case in the realm of urban sharing. The session will be divided into three parts: (1) a brief introduction to the methodology of Design Thinking, (2) a ‘fast forward’ experience in Design Thinking focusing on solutions for the Urban Sharing Society, and (3) a reflection on the general use of Design Thinking for driving the transformational agenda.
3.5 Key criteria for a sustainability and transformation potential assessment: A tool for policy and practice to describe the benefits of sustainability initiatives and encourage change
Stephanie Wunder and Sylvia Veenhoff
This session will demonstrate and discuss a tool to reflect about the sustainability and transformation potential of sustainability initiatives and the importance of key variables. The tool can be used in many circumstances, most importantly
- For policy makers to shape policies and funding programs
- By sustainability initiatives to reflect on their impacts as well as
The tool was developed within the research project “From Niche to Mainstream – How to Spread Sustainable Practices”, carried out by Ecologic Institute and DRIFT on behalf of the German Environment Agency (UBA). The session will be chaired by Sylvia Veenhoff (UBA) and Stephanie Wunder (Ecologic Institute).
The core of the tool is a set of criteria that allows the user to identify the benefits of sustainability initiatives in a twofold way: a) by assessing their sustainability impact and b) by estimating their potential to contribute to the transformation process. While a large diversity already exists to assess sustainability, the criteria to analyze the transformation potential do not have a long tradition and so far hardly any application in practice. Key of this practice session is therefore if the three indicators for assessing the transformation potential of a sustainability initiative are of use in practice.
In the session we will first present the tool and then explore its usability in practice in group discussions. One group will discuss the usability for initiatives themselves and researchers studying their activities, while the second group will discuss its use by policy makers and funders.
3.6 Creating pathways for transformation through amplifying approaches: a case study from Southern Transylvania
Andra-Ioana Horcea-Milcu, David Lam, Daniela Peukert and Daniel Lang
How to increase the impact of sustainability initiatives? While amplifying strategies are not yet a widely used approach to trigger transformational change, literature increasingly recognizes the importance of processes such as scaling for accelerating sustainability transformations. To complement these solution-oriented efforts, we introduce amplifying strategies as approaches capitalising on existing sustainability advancements in order to accelerate systemic change. We propose a conceptualisation of pathways for system change, consisting of four amplifying strategies: 1) Consolidating and stabilizing; 2) Increasing and scaling; 3) Transferring and Adapting; 4) Connecting and complementing. Our session aims to enrich, specify and critically reflect upon the potential and relevance of this conceptualisation in terms of practice and contexts. To this end, we invite participation in order to co-create an interactive forum for exploration. We contribute with: a case-study from Eastern Europe, a novel design-based methodology, and the expertise of an invited case practitioner. We present our transdisciplinary case-study in Transylvania and its transformative focus on integrating and recognising progress undertaken by the numerous but heterogenous small-scale sustainability initiatives. To stimulate mutual learning, our practice session creatively employs innovative design methods. Facilitation builds on design drafts as transdisciplinary tools within a moderated design prototyping exercise. This exchange creates the opportunity for a wide range of participants, sustainability scholars and practitioners, to ‘experiment’ with our approach for change and explore together how to transfer it to their specific systems and contexts. An open discussion on specifying the transferability of amplifying strategies from different perspectives (e.g. academia, non-governmental, business, etc.) encourages broad participation.
Rosalind Cornforth, Hannah Parker, Margaret Barihaihi and Daniel Morchain
The use of serious games as a transformative social learning tool has proven to be a highly effective, yet underappreciated, mechanism for capacity building, scenario planning and crisis response training. Staunchly different from top-down, monotonous training sessions, serious games create supportive environments to bring together actors from diverse backgrounds, disciplines and sectors to ‘experience’, understand and analyse diverse and difficult situations, which often underpin development challenges. They provide innovative, participatory opportunities for transformational learning as players take on new roles and engage with decision processes they may not normally be involved with, to gain appreciation of others’ circumstances, recognise their own biases, frame challenges from new perspectives and reconsider paradigms.
In this session we will show how academics and INGOs can collaborate to develop relevant, inclusive and accessible games based on rigorous scientific foundations and embedded in policy processes. We aim to generate debate and spark conversations on the role of games to make research more accessible and relevant to non-academics. Participants will hear about some of the many games available, focussing on different decision-making contexts, and have the opportunity to play the Walker Institute’s ASK game. This is designed to explore communication challenges in the implementation of early warning systems and linkages between scientists, humanitarian agencies and communities, using tennis balls and a drainpipe! Reflection on the benefits, challenges and implications of approaching development challenges with serious games will provide participants with the opportunity to consider how games could be integrated into their own work contexts.
Helen Mansbridge and Maria Gray
In 2016, the Scottish Government developed Climate Conversations to encourage a public discussion on climate change, using the outcomes of these conversations to develop a sound knowledge of the Scottish public’s understanding of and attitudes to climate.
This practice-based research has led to the development of a simple, free and practical guide for holding group conversations about climate change in Scotland. Essentially the ‘climate conversation’ is designed to help anyone wanting to start, and widen, the conversation about climate change with a small group of people. With a clear script and materials to guide people through the conversation there is no need for specialist knowledge about climate change, just a desire to have constructive conversations.
The principles that emerged from the research, form the basis of the ‘how to guide’, including: keeping it simple – a few visuals are all that is required; don’t talk about the science of climate change; and focus on things that matter to people. The conversations are creating the space to enable people who do not regularly talk about climate change to engage on the issues in a way that matters to them.
This session will be an opportunity to see the tool in action and hear about the findings from the conversations so far and the next steps in this project.