Co-Creation for Sustainability
The UN SDGs and the Power of Local Partnership
Table of contents(17 chapters)
This introductory chapter points to the need for sound and critical reflection on how to mobilize public, private and third sector actors, facilitate collaboration in partnerships and networks, and cocreate SDG solutions that are at once innovative, effective, and democratic. It spells out the aim of the book, which is to show how Goal 17 on partnerships can be used as a lever for securing global transformation toward socioeconomic and environmental sustainability. It explicates the basic argument that cocreation provides a promising strategy for advancing goal attainment by mobilizing competent, engaged, and knowledgeable stakeholders, stimulating innovation and ensuring broad-based support to solutions that make a difference. Finally, it briefly presents the content of the book and explains its intended usage.
This chapter looks at the crucial role that local action plays in achieving the SDGs. It begins by revisiting the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals and ponders the reasons why we should have faith in the prospect for successful goal attainment. Next, it demonstrates the importance of local responses to global problems and challenges targeted by the SDGs and discusses the motivation of local actors to contribute to the changes that need to be made in order to generate inclusive prosperity while protecting the planet. Finally, the chapter identifies some of the key barriers to local action and reflects on how we broaden the scope and improve the conditions for local people and organizations to initiate and drive change.
Cocreation Is the Answer
This chapter looks at how Goal 17 on partnerships can be a lever of change. It discusses the partnership approach to achieving the SDGs and unravels the key functions of networks and partnerships, such as knowledge sharing, coordination, and collaborative governance. It carefully explains why we need to shift the focus of the global debate from collaborative governance to the cocreation of public value outcomes. It then provides a schematic account of the different steps in the process of cocreating outcomes, which include initiation, design, implementation, and evaluation. Finally, the chapter identifies the key merits of cocreation and looks its dark side straight in the eye.
Translating Global Goals to Local Contexts
This chapter examines the translation of generic global goals into local action. It first discusses the translation of global goals into national agendas and the challenges of localizing the goals. Localizing the goals is essential for ensuring that the SDGs reflect local needs, norms, and values, thus ensuring that local actors find them relevant and meaningful. The chapter argues that cocreation is a key vehicle for the localization of the SDGs and identifies the key benefits that arise from using cocreation as a localization strategy. Cocreation can foster the will and capacity for local governments and communities to advance the cause of sustainability. Cocreation can help communities integrate the sustainable development goals, identify hidden resources, build support networks, create social accountability, etc.
Building Cocreation Platforms
This chapter explains how cocreation can be supported by establishing platforms, which provide knowledge, resources, and opportunities for local actors to come together in cocreation arenas. Platforms make it easy for local actors to connect, interact, and engage in productive joint activity. The chapter provides an overview of different types of platforms and describes their distinctive organizing logic, which includes mediating the relationship between different stakeholders, scaffolding their joint action, and leveraging their capacity for change. The chapter identifies important platform dynamics, such as attractor and amplifier effects, synergy, scaling, and social learning, that enable them to successfully support cocreation. Finally, the chapter discusses how platforms themselves can be designed to enhance these dynamics.
This chapter explores how conveners can use stakeholder analysis to bring together and align relevant and affected actors in cocreation partnerships. Next, it considers how conveners can deal with the limits to the inclusion of all relevant and affected actors. Reflections on the relation between inclusion and exclusion of actors are followed by a discussion of how conveners can empower weak, vulnerable, and inexperienced participants. Empowered actors must be motivated to participate in complex and demanding cocreation processes. The key motivator is to be found in the efforts of conveners and facilitators to clarify, strengthen, and create resource interdependence between the participants. The last section looks at the emergence of different kinds of conflicts and the role of conveners and facilitators in mediating conflicts that threaten to jeopardize the cocreation process.
This chapter draws out lessons regarding how the diagnosis of urgent problems, the formation of ambitious and visionary goals, and the participation of stakeholders with critical innovation assets stimulate the cocreation of innovative solutions that promote the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and how changemakers can lead and manage cocreated innovation processes. It considers the initiation of innovation processes and the design and testing of innovative solutions as well as the upscaling and diffusion of new successful products, processes and organizational forms. Finally, it identifies several common pitfalls that are important for changemakers to avoid, including an assumption of the necessity for heroic leadership, failure to include relevant actors, overly strict and detailed plans and procedures, and inability to integrate newcomers.
Cocreating SDGs Through Experimentation and Prototyping
This chapter goes into more detail about how experimentation can be used as a strategy of innovation and how cocreation can support this strategy. It first draws out lessons from research on sustainability transitions, design thinking, and grassroots innovation for the development of experimentation. Prototyping is found to be a particularly valuable strategy for cocreating experimentation because it allows stakeholders to develop low-cost designs and to quickly improve them based on group feedback. A range of prototyping strategies are available to cocreators, ranging from mock ups to pilot projects. Finally, the chapter examines how to support, scale and diffuse cocreated experiments.
Funding and Financing Local Cocreation Projects
This chapter insists that local cocreation projects need not only good intentions and the hard work of volunteers but also require funding and financing of the design and implementation of new solutions. It draws a conceptual distinction between funding and financing and explains who may help to provide funding and financing and why they may do so. As a part of this discussion, attention is drawn to the importance of writing good and persuasive funding applications and drawing up a strong and convincing business case to secure financing of new solutions. The new and emerging strategy for mobilizing private capital to help finance SDG projects is explained and illustrated, before closing the chapter with a discussion of the need to develop a proper system for fiscal accounting and auditing, which can prevent mismanagement and misconduct that eventually undermine popular support for local SDG projects.
Implementing Solutions Based on Collaborative Adaptation
This chapter examines how implementation of SDG solutions can be improved through adaptive strategies. Many so-called blueprint strategies are inflexible during implementation and underestimate the importance fitting general goals and plans to shifting local needs and contexts. The chapter emphasizes the importance of identifying the specific types of dynamic challenges that will prompt the need for adaptation when implementing sustainability strategies. Adaptive cocreation provides a valuable framework for overcoming traps of various sorts that may block implementation. The problem-driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) model is introduced as one approach to adaptation. PDIA is particularly valuable for achieving bottom-up integration of SDGs and projects. Finally, the chapter considers the importance of social learning as a strategy for collaborative adaptation.
This chapter insists that evaluation of the process and results of cocreation is a precondition for continuous improvement and helps maintain support from external sponsors and funders. The main benefits of systematic evaluation of cocreation are learning and legitimacy rather than control and allocation. The chapter scrutinizes the two most common evaluation tools, formative and summative evaluation, and finds that they both fail to appreciate the emergent character of cocreation processes. The solution to this problem is to supplement formative and summative evaluation with developmental evaluation, which prompts the participating actors to engage in a critical interrogation of what they are doing, the reasons for doing it, and the results they achieve. Finally, the chapter explains how the commitment of developmental evaluation to using real-time data in the evaluation of change theories can be pursued through a collective impact strategy.
Ensuring Accountable Cocreation of the SDGs
This chapter argues that failure to secure accountability can be costly because it raises doubts about the fairness, salience, and impact of cocreation. Cocreation must establish accountability with respect to four different audiences: sponsors, relevant stakeholders, affected citizens, and the general public. The chapter discusses the challenges of trying to solely hold cocreation networks and partnerships accountable based on formal accountability mechanisms. It argues that these formal mechanisms must be supplemented with social and more informal strategies of accountability. Finally, the chapter considers how changemakers can strengthen social and informal accountability in and around cocreating networks and partnerships.
Leading Local Cocreation of SDG Solutions
This chapter argues that despite the horizontal and self-organizing character of cocreation processes, leadership is essential for initiating and facilitating collaboration and securing the production of effective SDG solutions. Leadership is defined as a two-way street between leaders who guide their followers and enable them to reach their goals and followers who provide valuable input to leaders in a bottom-up process. Five crucial leadership functions are identified and the role of power in leadership is discussed. The chapter also considers the particular strategies for leading cocreation networks and partnerships and the skills and competencies necessary for pursuing these strategies. Finally, the chapter describes the importance of building leadership capacity through the recruitment of leadership teams.
This concluding chapter summarizes the critical insights that changemakers ought to consider in their attempt to lead and manage cocreation processes and enhance their impact. The chapter also addresses three crucial challenges to the advent of a sustainable future: the need to rethink the assumptions of mainstream economics, the need to secure political stability in times of rapid societal change; and the demand for the deepening democracy. Finally, the chapter argues that local efforts to build a sustainable future will only succeed if key economic, political, and democratic challenges are effectively dealt with at the global and national levels.
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