2014/10/17 12:00 Merlina Missimer, Karl-Henrik Robèrt and Göran Broman, “Lessons from the field: A first evaluation of working with the elaborated social dimension of the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development”, #RSD3

Merlina Missimer second day #RSD3 “Business and Enterprise Design, Sustainability and Economic Policy” track at Relating Systems Thinking and Design 3, at AHO, Oslo, Norway

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Program is at http://systemic-design.net/rsd3-2014/program/

Blekinge Institute of Technology, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development, Karlskrona, Sweden

Conceptual framework around social sustainability, and first feedback from prototype

Wicked problems

  • Unsustainable behavior is deeply embedded in systems
  • Sustainability science as a science of design (Miller 2011)

Framework for strategic sustainable development

  • Created 20 years ago
  • Moving from silos to wider perspective
  • 20-year consensus and peer review

To plan in complex systems, 5 levels:

  • System:  overall functioning
  • Success: definition of objectives
  • Strategic guidelines:  logical guidlines
  • Action: concrete
  • Tools

Can use purpose to guide system boundaries:

  • There’s a lot of information, can use robust definition and purpose

Can also use backcasting, start with the end in mind

Sustainability is only relevant as a result humanity’s unsustainability

Sustainability == not systematically degrading ecological and social system

  • Identify mechanisms of degradation / destruction
  • Cluster with “nots”
  • Create sustainability priciples as constraints for re-design

Principles create boundary conditions that enable the space on the inside

Two systems are ecological and social:

  • Believe that we can use science to undermine

Version of sustainability principles:  3 ecological, 1 social

Approach has been tested in many companies and municipalities

Focus in this research is on social dimension, which has been underdeveloped

Design research methodology to understand current state and see what’s happeningx

  • Phase 1:  Gathering
  • Phase 2:  Try to build theory for social sustainability principles
  • Phase 3:  Evaluation

Success:  level of scientific rigor, and viability of use/usefulness

Workshops in three countries

  • Present
  • Apply
  • Reflect


  • Social system as complex adaptive systems
  • Functioning around self-organization, learning, diversity, trust, common meaning

How to translate into principles?

Started with trust

  • How to undermine trust?
  • Then check against other principles

Integrity:  not doing harm to others

Systemic barriers to influence:  being able to shape systems that individuals are part of

  • Link between individual and collective

Competence:  safeguarding of individuals

  • Themes around trust and trustworthiness


Meaning:  systems need to have a purpose

5 years of research lead to 5 years of social sustainability principles

Evaluation with prototypes:  how do practitioners respond to this?

  • 2 practitioners had already used the new approach, thought that new principles were intuitive, although some unease with new
  • Question:  how to work with it?
  • Non-seniors less comfortable, not easy, too complex, wanted a clearer narrative

Elaboration of Sustainability PrinciplesElaboration of Sustainability Principles at http://www.alliance-ssd.org/elaboration-of-sustainability-principles/

#design, #systems-thinking