4.1 Towards Social Equity And Cohesion Vezzoli Polimi 07 08 3.11


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4.1 Towards Social Equity And Cohesion Vezzoli Polimi 07 08 3.11

  1. 1. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion course System Design for Sustainability subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion carlo vezzoli politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . Italy Learning Network on Sustainability contents Design, consumption and ethic Design for social equity: general frame A concern of all economies Connection between environmental and socio-ethical sustainability Emerging model and tools Distributed economies Solidarity cooperative networks Enterprises/initiatives local-based Enterprises/initiatives network-structured System innovation opportunities in emerging contexts carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  2. 2. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 4.1.1 Design for social equity: general frame This chapter will discuss the issue of social equity within the sustainable development. We will consider some promising economic and innovation models focusing on system innovations for local-based and network structured enterprises, and finally provide criteria along with guidelines for system design for social equity and cohesion1, including: • improve employment and working conditions • improve equity and justice in relation to stakeholders • enable a responsible and sustainable consumption • favour/integrate weaker and marginalized strata • improve social cohesion • empower/valorise local resources. We could remind2 that within the conceptual assumptions of sustainable development the so-called equity principle (UN, 1992) proposes that every person, in a fair distribution of resources, has a right to the same environmental space, i.e. to the same availability of global natural resources or better, to the same level of satisfaction that can be had from these in different ways. As mentioned previously (learning resource 2.2), a debate has started recently on a potential responsibility for design in terms of social equity and cohesion improvements. The design area has opened (or re-opened) the discussion on the possible role of design in the general questions associated with the various forms of social injustice. We can observe new, although sporadic, interest on the part of design research to move on this territory, to trace its boundaries and understand the possible implications (Margolin, 2002; Manzini, 2003; Vezzoli, 2003a; Rocchi, 2005; Penin, 2006; Tischner, Verkuijl, 2006; Leong, 2006; Maase, Dorst, 2006; Carniatto, Carneiro, Fernandes, 2006; Weidema, 2006). This is an extremely vast and complex issue and its implications for design have so far been little analysed (and are difficult to face without falling into easy, hardly constructive moralism). However, it would seem necessary to address this question when dealing with sustainable consumption. Unfortunately, very few design researchers world wide are working on this issue. So, before continuing, one has to remember that this topic is not a consolidated area, (as it could be for Product LCD and less consolidated then eco-efficient system design). It is, in fact, a new research frontier, meaning that little has been shared in the design community on a theoretical level, and very few methods and tools are developed for operative level3. It is worth noticing, this is a role for design that addresses social equity and cohesion sustainability directly, rather than indirectly as a potential result of a radical reduction in the resources available in industrialized contexts, as usually studied within the approach to system design for eco-efficiency. Nevertheless, it is one of the most crucial areas for the future of design. The main question is if there is a role for the design world to face social equity? Better still, if there is an effective and operative role for the design world altogether (where the risk of merely moralistic statements could be avoided)? 1 That are developed by the already mentioned MPSS EU research. 2 Cf. chapter 1.1.2. 3 Cf. chapter 2.2.5. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  3. 3. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 The purpose of this text is not to discuss all the implications, but before going any further, it is useful to discuss at least the following remarks: • it doesn't concern only developing or emerging economies; • environmental and socio-ethical sustainability are connected. 4.1.2 A concern of all economies First and foremost is quite clear that social equity is not just a matter of developing or emerging economies, in fact in a global market companies from industrialized countries are interacting with stakeholders of their supply chain, located in developing and emerging countries. Furthermore, also industrialised countries are facing poverty. Finally, it worth noting that social equity and cohesion, its not just a matter of eradicating poverty, but more widely of facilitating an improvement in the quality of life (Marks, Abdallah, Simms, Thompson, 2006; EU, 2006). In fact, the socio-ethical dimension has been recently recognized as an problematic issue in the global market, even by companies in industrialized economies, because the stakeholders are part of their supply chain. In this context are worth mentioning some voluntary models and tools4: • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): a management model, where the company responsibility is extended to all stakeholders, aiming to optimise the economic value together with social and environmental ones; • Social Accountability (SA8000, 2001): first independent tool for social and sustainable transparency declaration; • Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (GRI, 2006): the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) network aim is to develop, continuously improve and building capacity around the Sustainability Reporting Framework, the core of which are the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. 4.1.3 Connection between environmental and socio-ethical sustainability Some authors have argued that the socio-ethical and environmental dimensions are closely linked (Mance, 2001; Rikfin, 2002; Sachs et al. 2002; IIEEE, 2006; Vezzoli, Manzini, 2006; Crul, Diehl, 2006) and recommended a favourable economic model called distributed economies. To discuss this let’s consider the fundamental issue of extraction, transformation and distribution methods used with the raw materials/natural resources for the supply and maintenance of our production and consumption systems; and the associated issue of the socio-economic stakeholders that hold and manage property rights and power over these processes. In particular, let’s consider an underlying question, raised by all those studying the environment, namely the transition from non- renewable resources (especially fossil fuels: oil, coal etc.), to renewable resources (sun, hydrogen etc.). As we know from a strictly environmental point of view, using oil (and other fossil resources) determines most of the carbon dioxide emissions that have their fare share in causing global warming (due to the greenhouse effect); this in turn determines various environmental problems: increasingly violent climate phenomena, the desertification of some areas and rising water level in others, but also the migration of pathogens (both for man and animals). There are also many widely- 4 More examples in learning resource 4.3 carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  4. 4. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 known problems and environmental risks associated with the various extraction and transformation processes, and the transport of these resources. Let’s now look at the issue from an economic and socio-ethical point of view. Resources from fossil fuels – due to their localisation and the complexity of extraction and transformation processes – have lead to a series of highly centralised production and distribution infrastructures. The consequence has been a widespread centralisation of the economic infrastructure which, in the opinion of Rifkin (Rifkin, 2002) and others, has resulted in reduced opportunities for access to resources (above all to energy, and particularly electricity). This is the key factor in perpetuating poverty in the world5. It is therefore said (Rifkin, 2002) that the enlarging rift between rich and poor can to a large extent be attributed to the very nature of the fossil fuel energy regime. Without access to resources and to energy in particular, individuals have little control over their own destiny. Only by freeing themselves from oil, coal and natural gas imports, can developing and newly industrialised countries emerge, improving the economic conditions and quality of life of their populations. As an alternative to fossil fuel, the use of renewable, local resources, starting with sun and hydrogen, presents indubitable environmental advantages, due to their reduced greenhouse effect (and its impact), inexhaustibility and lower environmental cost compared to the various processes of extraction, transformation and distribution. Here we are interested in underlining that expansive usage of these (renewable) resources could lead to an extensive redistribution of power, towards single individuals, and this thus is necessary to establish conditions that would allow to share the Earth’s riches more fairly. Coming back to what Rifkin and others said (Rifkin, 2002), this is the essence of a policy for bottom-up re-globalisation. Briefly, let’s see why. Sun and hydrogen can be used locally through relatively simple processes. The sun is inexhaustible and present everywhere, though in varying intensity (curiously, there is more sun in the so-called “Global South”). Hydrogen is the lightest, most elementary and widespread chemical element present in nature and is also practically inexhaustible. It does not naturally exist in a free form, but it can be extracted from natural sources. Technology for these renewable resources have still not been developed in a significant way, but already today the installation and management of photovoltaic (sun) and hydrogen combustion cells are infinitely less complex than plant for oil wells and refineries. They are therefore also installable and manageable by small scale economic entities, even by a single residential complex or single individuals. If adequately exploited, sun and hydrogen (ubiquitous and inexhaustible) would enable every human being to have more power and move towards a democratic regime of resource management. These sources would allow micro-plants to be set up close to the end-user, who would no longer be only a consumer but also producer of the energy he uses. Autonomous photovoltaic panels and combustion cells could supply electricity rapidly and at a favourable cost. When a sufficient number of such micro-plants have been installed (whether purchased or managed), they could be connected together into micro energy-grids, and therefore into a constantly expanding (potentially global) energy grid. Individuals, residential complexes and local communities could in this way share and exchange energy, achieving self-sufficiency and consequently increased power, in a framework of greater interdependence. Ultimately, they could challenge the traditional centralised energy generating plants (born and developed during the age of fossil fuels), and escape the grip of the huge, powerful, energy and electricity companies, causing a radical change in important flows of power: no longer from top downwards, but from bottom upwards. 5 For example, many have observed (Stiglitz, 2002) that the rise in oil prices during the seventies and eighties was the main cause of debt increase in the third world. These nations were forced into debt, for billions of Euro, with international monetary institutions and with banks, to guarantee oil imports. In many of the world’s poorest countries, the cost of paying interest and settling debts is today greater than the amount needed to provide essential services for their own populations. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  5. 5. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 In short, such a decentralised infrastructure supplied by renewable sources, on the one hand would reduce environmental impact, and on the other could facilitate a democratisation of resources and energy, enabling individuals, communities and nations to reclaim their independence while accepting the responsibility that derives from their reciprocal interdependence (self-sufficiency and interdependence). Assuming these hypotheses of distributed generation (Rifkin, 2002), a new worldwide energy network could be grafted onto the developing global information networks and stimulate the birth of a new culture of participation. Giving access and power to local communities also contributes to enhancing the positive aspects of humanity’s cultural plurality, where local cultural forms should aspire less and less to being possessions to defend, and more and more to being opportunities for positive cross- fertilisation towards a general improvement in the conditions of life on earth. Renewable energy sources have the characteristics that lead to low environmental impact, decentralised and democratic production systems, but all this may not necessarily happen. Whether in industrialised, emerging or developing contexts it will be essential to develop the capacity to gather large masses of producer-users into networks and associations with an adequate, decentralised, bottom-up, institutional approach, in order to guarantee more control to community members and power over their own destiny: for example, in developing countries, village co- operatives in collaboration with micro-credit banks6. More in general (i.e. not only in relation to solar and hydrogen derived energy) we can observe that in an interconnected context (in communications, but potentially also in resource management) a principle that double ties the environmental question to social ethics can be summarised as follows: use primary local, conservative, regenerative (i.e. locally sustainable) resources and introduce decentralised system networks for the extraction, production and use of those resources. It has also been observed (Sachs, 2002; Sachs, Santarius, 2007) that when they are local, social- economic stakeholders involved in the extraction, transformation and sale of resources, then they pay far more attention to preserving (resource) renewability. The obvious underlying reason is that their economic subsistence depends in the short, but also in the long term on these resources. Therefore they are not in favour to exhaust them quickly. At this point we can make a further observation: there is a potential convergence between key environmental and socio-ethical strategies that is inherent in re-globalisation models characterised by diffused participation, where locally based networked communities and “network enterprises” (consisting not only of entrepreneurs, but also of users, NGOs, associations, institutions etc.) assume particular value. This theme intertwines with other points of interest in research on so-called forms of alternative economy or alternative enterprises, founded on the concepts of co-operation, collectivity and collaboration (the so-called C factor (Razeto, 2004). In particular, it merges with research on co- operative networks and creative communities (Florida 2002; Manzini ; Manzini, Jegou, 2003), characterised by the self-organised activities of aware, critical, motivated citizens who are organized to a greater or lesser extent into networks and solidarity economy districts. In other words, it is 6 On a worldwide level, co-operatives are the best organised vehicles to set up and diffuse such economies, able to acquire local resources and make them operative, without the aid of huge transnational companies. Co-operatives are organised on a geographical basis, gathering single producers and consumers together in a participatory non-profit institution. According to ICA (International Co-operative Alliance) the principles are: the universality of associate member qualification, democratic participation, fair distribution of resources, autonomy, training, co-operation between co-operatives and community commitment. Aggregation of single consumers (and producers) to deal with their suppliers from a position of greater strength (collective bargaining). carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  6. 6. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 linked to work on those forms of sustainable social innovation, i.e. solutions of high social quality and low environmental impact, that spring from active, bottom-up, social participation. Because of their importance in a process of transition towards sustainability, we shall explore these phenomena in the following learning resource. 4.1.4 Emerging hypothesis for a design field of action After these two remarks we could go on discussing further and further the issue that is anyhow very complex and without any simple solution, but let us better focus on the possible role for the design. Among the few on this researching field, there are two basic emerging hypotheses to describe a potential approach for the design. The first one emphasises designing, that is promoting local-based and network structured enterprises and initiative. The second one accents the system innovation (design) approach, which could be favourable for emerging or developing contexts, i.e. helps effectively tackle the socio-ethical dimension together with the environmental one. So let's describe these two hypothesis. 4.1.5 Promising emerging economic models: local-based and network-structured Among other promising models, some authors are pointing out distributed economies. In the last decades the adjective distributed 7 has been increasingly used in relation to several different socio-economic systems: information technologies, and distributed computing. Energy systems and distributed generation. Production and the possibilities of distributed manufacturing. The processes of change and distributed innovation, distributed creativity, distributed knowledge. And, finally, in relation to the overall socio-technical systems, the rise of new, more effective economic models: distributed economies. A well-known institution on economics and sustainability, the IIIEE in Lund defines distributed economies as a “selective share of production distributed to regions where activities are organized in the form of small scale, flexible units that are synergically connected with each other”. Some of these concepts became mainstream two decades ago (the “classic” distributed computing). Some of them have a strong position in the international arena (such as the concepts of distributed generation and distributed manufacturing). Some of them have emerged, and are emerging, in current years and have a wide and growing audience (distributed innovation, distributed creativity, distributed intelligence and distributed economy). In all these cases, what the term distributed adds to the substantive to which it is related, is the idea that it has to be considered as a web of interconnected, autonomous elements, i.e. elements that are capable of acting autonomously, being, at the same time, highly connected with the other elements of the system. On the other side of the ocean similar economic models are described by Euclides Mance, who is approaching the issue from a more solidarity economy background. Mance is talking about solidarity cooperative networks (Mance, 2003): as “network in which units of production and 7 To distribute: to divide something into portions and dispense it (from: Wiktionary – the wiki-based Open Content dictionary). carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  7. 7. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 consumption are articulated in nodes enables to self-propagate and self-feed in a solidarity collaboration”. Let’s make some examples to clarify the concept of distributed economies and solidarity cooperative networks. EXAMPLES As a first example we should recall the aforementioned distributed generation of energy. The Resource Dynamics Corporation management and technology consulting for the use of small-scale power generation technologies located close to the service range. A bit different and well known case of distributed economies is the Linux software, originally developed by the Finnish graduate student Linus Torvald. Anyone can use Linux for free as long as any changes or new features are shared with others at no cost. A third example could be the so-called Solidarity Purchasing Groups. These are groups of persons making collective purchases, directly contacting directly the local producers of season/biological products. What those examples and the two theoretical models have in common is: They are “locally-based” enterprises or initiatives meaning they start from sustainable local resources and needs, but could become open non-local or global system They are “network-structured” enterprises or initiatives meaning they can gain critical mass and potentialities by their connections in network. 4.1.6 System innovation approach for emerging contexts The second emerging hypothesis we came upon in the research arena of Product-Service System or system innovation for sustainability, has proposed that such innovations are favourable for emerging or developing contexts and help to tackle the socio-ethical dimension together with the environmental one. Within this context the effort started in 2000 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is symptomatic. This set up a group of international researchers (from industrialized, emerging and developing countries)8 to disseminate world-wide the concept of system innovation, and to start exploring the issue, which can be summed up in the following question: is system innovation (PSS) also applicable in emerging and developing contexts? The question arises simply because the development of Product-Service Systems, that has been studied, said and achieved so far, concerned only the environmental and economic aspects, and mature industrialised contexts. It did not refer to the socio-ethical dimension or to emerging and developing countries/contexts. This question has been the forerunner of another: 8 The work involved a group of researchers (including the authors) from several countries in the more or less industrialised world; it was set up in 2000 and ended with a publication in 2002 presenting the main achievements (UNEP, 2002). carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  8. 8. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 (if the answer to the first is affirmative) can a system approach favour the social equity and cohesion qualification of these contexts as well as their eco-efficiency? And if so, with what particular characteristics? The response of the above mentioned international group of experts to these questions, is the following hypothesis: “PSS (system innovation) may act as business opportunities to facilitate the process of social- economical development of emerging context - by jumping over or by-passing the stage characterised by individual consumption/ownership of mass produced goods - towards more advanced service-economy “satisfaction-based” and low resources intensive” (UNEP, 2002). The following opportunities for environmental and socio-ethical sustainability, in development and system innovation have been highlighted (UNEP, 2002)9. First of all, if PSS are eco-efficient at system level it means that they may represent opportunities, at least at a macro level, for a context with fewer economic possibilities to respond more easily to unsatisfied social demands. Secondly, PSS offers are more focused on the context of use, because they do not only sell products, but they open relationships with the end user. For this reason, an increased offer in these contexts, should trigger a greater involvement of (more competent) local, rather than global, stakeholders; fostering and facilitating a reinforcement of the local economy. Furthermore, since PSS are more labour/relationship intensive, they can also lead to an increase in local employment and a consequent dissemination of skills. In addition, since the development of PSS is based on the building of system relationships and partnerships, coherent with a democratic re-globalisation process. Finally, they are coherent with the development of network enterprises on a local base for a bottom- up re-globalisation. This last consideration is quite important since its connection to aforementioned potential for convergences between environmental and socio-ethic sustainability. To clarify previous arguments, let's look at another example of a product service system innovation coupling environmental and socio-ethical sustainability10. EXAMPLE Greenstar - solar e-commerce and community center 9 This hypothesis has also been examined in a series of case studies, collected by the group engaged by the UNEP. 10 Connected to the same research commissioned by UNEP. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  9. 9. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 Greenstar provides an enabling platform service, delivering a solar powered, wireless connection for villages in the developing world, as e-commerce centres, so residents of remote rural communities can sell their wares world-wide. They record traditional art, music, photography, legends and storytelling in small villages, and bring these products to global markets through the Internet. Products offered on the Web can also include coffee, dried fruits, and spices, as well as handicrafts, art and cultural works like ceramics, brassware, musical instruments, tapestries, etc. Greenstar packages digital culture materials for various markets, both directly to the consumer, and through licensing to businesses. Villagers own the Greenstar Village Centre themselves, and become shareholders in Greenstar. The centre provides electricity, drives a water purifier, and has a vaccine cooler. The centre is a modular, scalable, unified hardware system, and has high mobility. Each location includes an e-commerce and computer workstation, as well as a medical clinic with basic equipment and telemedicine connections and a classroom. It is all powered by a commercial- grade photo-voltaic solar power array, and connected to the Web through a satellite dish or digital cellular modem for highspeed telecommunications. Greenstar conducts all business transactions on the Web on behalf of the community through a secure US-based server. The accounting systems transfers a portion of each dollar of revenue directly from Greenstars holding account into a local bank account for the village, using a Visa-denominated transfer, that includes conversion into local currency at the best possible exchange rate each day. Authorised representatives of the village can then access these funds by cheque, cash withdrawal, or by credit-card supported debit card, where available. To date, pilot installations have been completed in a remote Bedouin settlement on the West Bank in the Middle East; in a small community in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica; in the central India village of Parvatapur, and in a traditional Ashanti community in Ghana. Greenstar plans launches soon in Brazil and Tibet and in over 60 other communities on all continents of the world, building a network of people, skills, ideas, tools and cultural voices. The facilities acting as e- commerce centres generate income benefits for rural people who own and create the products and provide a return to Greenstar shareholders, in order to cover the cost of capital, provide marketing, logistics and distribution services, and to fund further Greenstar installations world-wide. The centre requires minimum supervision and management and there is always a connection to a global support network via e-mail. One person can manage the system and provide all support. A one-week intensive training course is provided to select individuals from the local community in order to maintain the centre. Revenues earned from digital culture sales are used to fund an ongoing, community-driven process of literacy, local business, education and training, public health, and environmental programs. This formula provides new jobs and skills, strengthens local culture and language, and affirms peoples ability to be self-reliant. Because the centre is self sufficient in producing its own energy, it requires no development of further infrastructure in order to carry out its purpose. Furthermore, the centre is completely solar powered through a photo-voltaic array, thus using a clean and renewable resource. The solar power can also be used to provide water purification capabilities via solar thermal distillation or pasteurization. A spin-off from the above mentioned UNEP project was the setting up in 2003 of an international network of design Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Learning Network on Sustainability (LENS)11, from both industrialised and emerging countries. The network scope has been, since its 11 The LENS network, that has been awarded in 2007 a European Union Asia Link founding, involves the following universities: the Indian Institute of Technology (New Delhi, India); the School of Architecture and Urbanism, Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil); the Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, (China); the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, (China); The Faculty of Design of the Politecnico di Milano University (Italy); the Dept. of Industrial Product Design, Istanbul Technical University, (Turkey); the Ewha Woman’s University (South Korea); the Industrial design department of the carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  10. 10. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 4. System design for social equity and cohesion . learning resource 4.1 Towards social equity and cohesion . year 2007-2008 establishment, to explore the above hypothesis further within the increasingly interconnected and multicultural context of globalisation, giving particular attention to the promising economic model of distributed economies (i.e. locally-based and network-structured enterprises/initiatives) mentioned previously. The research/education hypothesis developed and adopted by the network for contexts of sustainable consumption and system innovation (LENS, 2007) says: “A system Innovation (PSS approach) may act as a business opportunity to facilitate the process of social-economical development in an emerging context - by jumping over or by-passing the stage characterised by individual consumption/ownership of mass produced goods - towards a more “satisfaction-based” and low resource intensity advanced service-economy, [from here the added part] characterized by the development of local-based and network-structured enterprises and initiatives, for a sustainable re-globalisation process aiming at a democratisation of access to resources, goods and services”. An other relevant HEIs network founded by the European Commission on design for sustainability, is named EMUDE 12 (Emerging User Demands for Sustainable Solutions), and has formulated a similar hypothesis. Its aim is to explore the potential of social innovation as a driver for technological and production innovation, in view of sustainability. More than 140 cases throughout Europe were collected and made available. The resulting picture shows the regeneration of local social fabric based on an enlarged family, common local resources, active neighbourhood life, additional circles of relationships and enthusiastically participating people. Within this promising context the understanding of the project on a design role level, is that (EMUDE, 2006): “strategic (system) design could contribute to the dissemination of – these solutions making them more accessible to a larger audience but, at the same time, trying to keep their initial relational qualities”. Within system innovation theories, we can find a coherence with the well-defined and mature research group working on so called “Transition management for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)”, for whom a process of ‘visioning’ and experimentation is essential, where niche experiments with new practices and systems could be stepping stones for potential future socio- technical innovations. A common element of the two networks is that the possible role for design (a possible design operativeness) has to be researched on a system or strategic level. Technical University of Delft (the Netherlands); the University of art and Design of Helsinki (Finland); the Industrial design department of the Federal Universitry of Parana in Curitiba (Brasil); the Department of Industrial design Faculty of Architecture King Mongkut's Institute of Technology (Thailand); the University of New South Wales Faculty of the Built Environment Industrial Design Program (Australia); Shritshi School of Art, Design and Technology (India); Design Academy Eindhoven (The Netherlands). 12 EMUDE is a European design HEI network funded by the European Commission, that involves the following universities: Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow (Poland); ENSCI Les Ateliers, Paris (France); Estonian Academy of Fine Arts, Tallinn (Estonia); Politecnico di Milano (Italy); School of Design, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow (Scotland); School of Design, University of Applied Science, Cologne (Germany); TU, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (The Netherlands); University of Art and Design, Helsinki (Finland). carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability