1.1 Sustainable Development Vezzoli Polimi 07 08 3.11

602 views

Published on

Published in: Technology
0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
602
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
4
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
29
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

1.1 Sustainable Development Vezzoli Polimi 07 08 3.11

  1. 1. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development course System Design for Sustainability subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework carlo vezzoli politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . Italy Learning Network on Sustainability contents Main definitions of sustainable development The sustainability dimensions Environmental sustainability Socio-ethical sustainability Economic/Legislative sustainability The required change to reach sustainability: system innovations carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  2. 2. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 1.1.1 Main definitions of sustainable development During the last ten years the concept of sustainable development has entered into the scene of international politics. This term refers to systemic conditions, where on planetary and regional level both the social and productive development takes place1: a) within limits of environmental resilience2; i.e. within its capacity to absorb the effects of human impact without causing any irreversible deterioration; b) without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs; i.e. maintain the means, or natural capital3, which will be passed to future generations; c) on the ground of equal redistribution of the resources following the principle that everyone have the same rights of environmental space4, i.e. the same access to global natural resources. The environmental issue, understood as the impact of production-consumption system on ecological equilibrium, starts to be raised in the second half of the 60s, in consequence with the accelerating and spreading industrialisation. Historically the approach of mankind has moved from damage remedy policies (end-of-pipe approach) to actions increasingly aimed at prevention. In other words, we have moved from action and research focused exclusively on de-pollution systems, to research and innovation efforts that aim to reduce the cause of pollution at source (or more generally, of the environmental impact). First scientific works handling these problems were published in the beginning of 70s. International studies and debates consider the deterioration and exhaustion of natural resources as a undesirable effect of the industrial development. The natural limits of our planet become more clear in the light of both uncontrollable technological and productive development as well as increase of world's population. International debate about environmental issues intensifies and spreads further during the eighties. The pressure from public opinion intensifies and the institutions take their stand with series of ecological norms and policies, which examined the productive activities and were based on Polluter Pays Principle. Then, the watchword of the United Nations Environmental Programme, and other institutions, became cleaner production, defined as “the continual redesigning of industrial processes and products to prevent pollution and the generation of waste, and risk for mankind and the environment”. In 1987 an important study was drafted by UN World Commission on Environment and Development to give indications about the future of humanity. This report was called Our Common Future and was the first to define sustainable development as quot;a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.quot; During the 90ties environmental matters entered the phase of maturity. Caring for the Earth: A Strategy for Sustainable Living - publication for World Conservation Union (IUCN) by United 1 Vezzoli C., Lo sviluppo sostenibile, in Filippo Rossi, Franco Salvi, Manuale di ingegneria civile e ambientale, Zanichelli, Bologna, 2006. 2 Resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to overcome certain disturbances without losing irrevocably the conditions for its equilibrium. This concept, extended planet-wise, introduces the idea that ecosphere used by human activities has limits on its resilience, that, when surpassed, give way to irreversible phenomena of deterioration. 3 Natural capital is the sum of non-renewable resources and the environmental capacity to reproduce the renewable ones. But it also refers to natural diversity, to the amount of living species on this planet. 4 Environmental space is the quantity of energy, territory and primary non-reproducible resources that can be exploited in sustainable way. It indicates the amount of environment available for every person, nation or continent to live with, produce or consume without surpassing the environmental resilience. (Friends of the Earth, Wuppertal Institute, 1995). carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  3. 3. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 Nations Environemt Programme and World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) - has a competing definition of sustainable development: “improving the quality of human life within the limits of capacity to protect the ecosystems.” Thus it accentuates the possibility to actually improve human life conditions while safeguarding the Earth's capacity to re-generate its resources. These two definitions deemed together describe the sustainable development as a practice what brings the benefits to human beings and ecosystems at the same time. Another historical event of these years was the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. This and other initiatives have provided the persistent integration of concept of sustainable development with the documents of all international organisations, as a model for reorientation of social and productive development Since 1994 the sustainable development and environmental sustainability form a fundamental benchmark in the 5th Environmental Action programme of European Commission. Onwards from 2000s (following the Johannesburg Conference and 10 years after Rio de Janeiro) is even more present and pronounced the necessity of awareness and active engagement of all social participants involved in the production-consumption circuit. Particularly significant was the setting up of the Sustainable Consumption Unit of the UNEP (United Nation Environmental Programme) in May 20005. The initial assumption was that “in spite of the progress made by the industrial world and enterprise during the last decade […]the extent to which consumption exceeds the Earth’s capacity to supply resources and absorb waste and emissions is still dramatically evident” (Geyer-Allely E., 2002). Finally, it is worth mentioning that the European Council of June 2006 adopted an ambitious and comprehensive renewed Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) for an enlarged EU. It builds on the Gothenburg strategy of 2001 and is the result of an extensive review process that started in 2004 6 . The renewed EU SDS sets out a single, coherent strategy on how the EU will more effectively live up to its long-standing commitment to meet the challenges of sustainable development. It recognises the need to gradually change our current unsustainable consumption and production patterns and move towards a better integrated approach to policy-making. It reaffirms the need for global solidarity and recognises the importance of strengthening our work with partners outside the EU, including those rapidly developing countries which will have a significant impact on global sustainable development. 1.1.2 The sustainability dimensions If we want to be schematic we can define sustainable development by few (interlinked) dimensions: • the environmental (chemical and physical) dimension: not to exceed the “resilience” of the biosphere-geosphere; that is the ability to absorb the anthropic perturbations without provoking irreversible phenomena of degradation; effects such us global warming, ozone layer depletion, acidification, eutrophisation; • the socio-ethical dimension: same degree of “satisfaction” for future generations and the fairness in the “distribution” of the resources (or better “satisfaction”); • the economic (and legislative) dimension: economically practicable solutions, in a more or less norms oriented market. 5 The same organisation published already in 1993 Achieving Sustainable Consumption Patterns: the Role of the Industry, UNEP IE/IAC, Paris. 6 EU, Renewed Sustainable development strategy, Council of the European Union. No. 10117/06, Brussels, 2006. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  4. 4. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 All these dimensions have their important part also in following paragraphs. 1.1.3 Environmental sustainability In the ‘60s of the past century, when the industrialized countries saw a strong acceleration of the development of the consumption and production systems, was soon discovered that it did not produce only advantages. Of those years we can recall the pollution of the Great Lakes in North America, the winter smog in London at the end of the ’50s, which led to death of thousands of persons, and the ecological disasters caused by the washing of the cargo tanks of the oil tankers into the sea. And still today we face such dangers. The smog from Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the cities causes thousands of victims per year; the ozone layer depletion makes sunbaths more dangerous; the global warming increases the violence of climatic phenomena that, as we know, provokes often many victims. Finally, starting from the second half of the 20th century, the production and consumption are using up too many resources and producing too many emissions regarding to the ability of the geosphere to absorb them. If we now recall the exact meaning of the environmental effects, then we see that each environmental effect is based on an impact of exchanging substances between the nature/environment and the production and consumption system. These effects can occur in two directions: • as input, namely extracting substances from the environment • as output, namely emitting substances into the environment. Obviously not all the impacts are equally damaging if they are damaging at all. Throwing into the environment 1 kg of water is quite different from throwing 1 kg of asbestos powder. Now, which effects have to be considered in relation with environmental requirements? When speaking about input – extracting resources for a given product –, then the first harmful effect is the exhaustion of the resources, which will first-hand create a social and economic issue of lack of resources for the future generations. Similarly related is the issue of the alteration of the ecosystems’ balance. For an example, the deforestations due to the use of timber in construction (of various type of artefacts) or in heating systems. In the course of time this human action has made the land more vulnerable to erosions, and determined the extinction of some species. Finally (but these issues will be discussed further together with outputs), there are the harmful effects connected to the extraction processes. E.g. the oil-leaks during extraction and transportation processes. The main environmental impacts due to emissions usually connected with different products are: • global warming (greenhouse effect) • ozone layer depletion • eutrophication • acidification • smog • toxic emissions • waste. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  5. 5. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 The table below summarises the main environmental effects of such impacts. Environmental impact Environmental effects global warming • melting of polar ice-caps, rising water level, inundated (greenhouse effect) lowlands • desertification • migration of pathogens ozone layer depletion • inflicts damage to flora and fauna • elevated skin tumour risk • immune system weakening eutrophication • loss of aquatic fauna due to oxygen depletion • contamination of ground water and lakes, resulting with non- drinkable water • obstacles on swimming acidification • limited regrowth of forests • limited regrowth of trees in urban zones • corrosion of monuments and buildings • contamination of ground water • loss of aquatic fauna • sanitary risks (respiratory problems) smog • some organic compounds (e.g. aldehydes) provoke lacrimation and irritate respiration • some compounds (e.g. PAN) can have toxic effects of plants toxic emissions • dioxane (TCDD) provokes chloracne and soft tissue cancer • inhaling pyrene and benzopyrene is highly carcinogenic • Lead poisoning (saturnism) may cause irreversible neurological damage waste presence of waste: • reduces availability of waste disposable sites • pollutes soil and ground water • creates olfactory pollution and explosion hazard in landfills waste transportation implies: • fuel consumption • noise and air pollution Tab. 1 The main effects of environmental impacts From other related effects such examples could be made as olfactory, acoustic and electromagnetic pollution and last but not least, deterioration of the landscape. Observing altogether the relations between the anthropic world and nature, we can distinguish two fundamental actions. Concerning the input from the nature we must preserve the resources using less non- renewable and more renewable ones. Concerning the output we have to prevent the pollution (of resources) reducing the emissions and increasing their bio-compatibility. To put these main activities into action, we should consider the some related scenarios. In order to do so, let's first agree on the visualisation, where the natural system is on one side of the equation and the artificial system (all the anthropic systems of production and consumption) on another. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  6. 6. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 First there is a bio-compatibility scenario were the resource flows between the opposite sides (i.e. for the production of goods and services) are compatible with the natural system: using renewable resources and disposing biodegradable and bio-compatible emissions and waste. Considering the industrialized society we're living in, this scenario has to face several limits. A second possible scenario is the non-interference. Considering, as before, the natural and the anthropic systems separated, this scenario imply the rising of “self-financing” of the artificial system, so that the resources are no more drawn from the nature but are rather recycled (if raw materials) or used in cascade (if energetic resources). Also this scenario has its limits, if not for other then the laws of thermodynamics which always increase the entropy during any process of transformation. Finally we can imagine a third scenario where the well-being demands to minimise the usage of resources (dematerialisation of well-being demand of satisfaction). To satisfy the social demand the income and outcome resources flows would be quantitatively diminished. Well, it is clear that the transition towards a sustainable development will consist from a mix of these scenarios depending on various conditions in various/different contexts. 1.1.4 Socio-ethical sustainability Researching on this topic means taking into account (as in the assumptions of the concept of sustainable development) the so-called equity principle (UN, 1992), whereby 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. When the issue of sustainable consumption crosses that of socio-ethical sustainability, the spectrum of implications, of responsibilities, extends to several different issues such as: the principles and rules of democracy, human rights and freedom; the achievement of peace and security; the reduction of poverty and injustice; improved access to information, training and employment; respect for cultural diversity, regional identity and natural biodiversity (UN, 2002). The European Union’s Sustainable Development Strategy (EU, 2006) defines a similar concept: Social equity and cohesion as the promotion of “a democratic, socially inclusive, cohesive, healthy, safe and just society with respect for fundamental rights and cultural diversity that creates equal opportunities and combats discrimination in all its forms.” It should be clear that when talking about the socio-ethical dimension of sustainability we are talking about the eradication of poverty. Let's remember even here the main “numbers” of poverty. For a succinct understanding of the issue, it is useful to remember that the 20% of world population uses around the 80% of natural resources. But we know as well that: • 1,1 billion people live on less than 1 US dollar a day • The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$ (PPP) 1 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day • 2,7 billion people (half the world/40% of world population) live on less than 2 US dollar a day • 1 billion children (1 in 2 children in the world) live in poverty • 11 million children die every year before fifth birthday • 18 million people a year die (1/3 of all deaths) due to poverty • 400 million have no access to safe water • 800 million people go to bed hungry every day carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  7. 7. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 • The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined. • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen • 640 million live without adequate shelter • 270 million have no access to health services. Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), presenting an annual report at the FAO conference on 31st October 2006 in Rome, said that “Instead of decreasing, the number of starving people is increasing by 4 millions per year”. He also remembered that 10 years earlier 185 countries took the commitment to halve the number of starving people. In (1996) there were 800 million people starving worldwide. And in 2006, after a reduction in the ’90s, there is 854 million people starving over the world. Before continuing, it is worth noting that this social equity and cohesion is not just a matter of eradicating poverty, but more widely a matter of facilitating an improvement in the quality of life, by the “promotion of a democratic, socially inclusive, cohesive, healthy, safe and just society with respect for fundamental rights and cultural diversity that creates equal opportunities and combats discrimination in all its forms” (EU, 2006). Furthermore, it has to be noticed that neither is this just a matter of developing or emerging countries (Marks, Abdallah, Simms, Thompson, 2006). Even companies in industrialized economies are involved because the stakeholders are part of their supply chain. In this context it is worth mentioning Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Social Accountability (SA8000, 2001), and Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (GRI, 2006). Finally, we shouldn't lose from the sight another basic substantiality: the environmental and socio- ethical dimensions of sustainability are in reality closely linked7. 1.1.5 Economic/Legislative sustainability Let us look at the economic dimension as well as at the legislative one, as the latter can change some of the economic roles. We can observe that in the industrialised societies many natural resources have very low costs which does not correspond to the cost of their actual use. Let us make an example. The producer and the user of a car are not paying the indirect costs, starting from the fact that many persons get lung illnesses from the polluted air. The internalisation of costs in this case would mean that the price of a car would include the medical costs. This case is perhaps a little extreme, but nevertheless it is helpful to understand that corrected attribution of costs would foster the minimisation of environmental impact as a consequence in costs reduction. In other words we should move towards a proper attribution (or internalisation) of the resource costs. This is mainly a political legislative issue. Another issue is orientating the main ongoing transitions towards sustainable solutions, i.e. interconnection, globalisation and localisation (referred together as glocalization), information, 7 These arguments will be treated further in chapter 3. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  8. 8. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 services, etc. In fact, re-orientating might bring forward a lot more effective results, than, let's say, going back in time and returning to the old production-consumption models. Finally, and complementary to the above strategy, it could be very interesting to enhance promising economic models even if they are currently with the niche market value. One promising economic model (according to some authors the most promising one), fitting into the frame of environmental and socio-ethical sustainability seems to be distributed economies8. 1.1.6 The required change to reach sustainability: system innovations 1.1.6.1 Sustainability: the dimension of change As already mentioned, in the second half of the ’90s a series of studies and analyses led to a clearer understanding of the dimension of change necessary to achieve a society that is effectively and globally sustainable. It was then realised that conditions for sustainability can only be achieved by drastically reducing the consumption of environmental resources compared to the average consumption by mature industrialised societies. Some studies - taking into account demographic growth forecasts and hypothesising, rightly, an increase in the demand for well-being in currently disadvantaged countries/contexts - have brought out a staggering result: in 50 years conditions for sustainability are achievable only by increasing the eco-efficiency of the production-consumption system by at least ten times. In other words we can only consider sustainable those socio-technical systems whose use of environmental resources per unit of satisfaction/service rendered is at least 90% below what is currently to be seen in mature industrial societies9. Most of the authors agree that if in the’70 the goal was to slow down before hitting limits, then now the goal must be to get back down below the limits without war and great damage to the earth. If current trends of overfishing and pollution continue, all seafood faces collapse by 2048. By the middle of the century no fewer than 7 billion people in 60 countries may be faced with water scarcity. Some scientists10 have shown that human beings and the natural world are on a collision course and global society will most likely ad just to limits by overshoot and collapse, not by asymptotic growth. 1.1.6.2 Sustainability: the quality of change These estimates are currently under scientific discussion. However, they are still valid to indicate the proportions of the change that should take place. A profound, radical transformation in our development model is necessary and the production and consumption system in this sustainable society will be profoundly different from what we have seen up to now. This scientific evidence leads political, scientific, philosophical and social debate to question not only production processes and artefacts (products and services, infrastructure and all the various forms of anthropological 8 This issue is analysed in depth in learning resource 4.2 . 9 On this issue see works by Wuppertal Institut fur Klima, Umwelt, Energy; by the Advisory Council for Research on Nature and Environment (in particular: The Ecocapacity as a challenge to technological development, a study funded by a group of Dutch ministeries); by the Working group on eco-efficiency sponsored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (see particularly the final report Eco-efficient Leadership, WBCSD, 1996). 10 Cf. Meadows D., Meadows D., Randers J., Limits to growth. The 30-year update, Chelsea Green, White River Junction, VT, 2006. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  9. 9. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 settlement), but also patterns of consumption and access to goods and services. In other words the prospects are of radical innovation (UNEP, 1993; ERL, 1994; ERL, 1993). Over the next few decades we must enable ourselves to move from a society where well-being and economic health are measured in terms of growth in production and material consumption, to a society where we are able to live better consuming far less, and to develop the economy reducing the production of material products. A context where economic growth can not be seen as the ultimate goal, and where, as Sen upholds (Sen, 2000), freedom is the initial means by which to achieve a development that must be orientated towards improving life; freedom as a guarantee that people are the protagonists of their own destiny and not the passive beneficiaries of a development programme11. How this may happen is at present difficult to foresee. It is, however, certain that there will have to be a discontinuity that will affect all facets of the system. Together with these observations, it should be emphasized that among the technological innovation we need socio-cultural ones as well. In fact, the debate about more sustainable consumption patterns has been included in the agenda of the major international governmental institutions over recent years starting with the United Nations. Particularly significant was the setting up of the Sustainable Consumption Unit of the UNEP (United Nation Environmental Programme) in May 2000. The initial assumption was that “in spite of the progress made by the industrial world and enterprise during the last decade […] the extent to which consumption exceeds the Earth’s capacity to supply resources and absorb waste and emissions is still dramatically evident” (Geyer-Allely E., 2002). This complex issue can be summarised in the following question: how can we foster new quality criteria so as to separate the social demand for well-being from a relationship that is directly proportional to the increase in consumption of resources, characteristic of mature industrialised societies? And how can this process fit into and orientate transitions that are already in progress in mature industrialised societies, and those that are desirable for developing and newly industrialised countries? In particular, what answers can the design world give to these questions? Moreover, the innovation should also be diffused not only as a radical idea, that is, it must be perceived as an improvement, plausible and articulated to fit into different modern contexts. 1.1.6.3 A multicultural, interconnected, networked context Before looking at the implications for the design we must place them in the context we are living in, a rapidly changing context of which we shall now recall some key factors. We must think of the transition towards a sustainable society in a profoundly modified framework, both in our conception of, and the reality of, the world around us: transformation in the nature of work, revolution in communication and information, emergence of genetics and biotechnology. In our modernity, individuals, ideas, images, products and money are in movement as never before possible and the fundamental characteristic of our modern subjectivity, where individuals and groups seek to include the global in their (modern) activities, is the effect that the interconnected elements of mass electronic communication and mass migration have, as Appadurai claims (Appadurai, 2001), on the workings of our collective, social imagination. It is an age in which the crisis of the nation state is evident, in which it cannot be taken for granted that effective public spheres are typically, exclusively or necessarily national; in which it seems hardly probable that 11 Sen proposes five types of freedom (correlated and linked to development policies): political (freedom of choice of government, freedom of the press, etc), economic (access to consumption and credit), social (access to education and health in function of access to economic activity ), transparency (against corruption) and protection and security (from poverty and destitution, guaranteed by social security networks) (Sen A., 2000). carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  10. 10. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 nation states, in a complex interactive system, can in the long term govern relations between the global and the modern (Appadurai, 2001); a liquid modernity, to use Bauman’s phrase, where everything is transitory, modifiable and experimentable (Bauman, 2005). We live in a global context, (or rather postglobal, i.e. the crisis of globalisation (Deaglio, 2004)), that is becoming more and more interconnected and multicultural. It is by now evident that contemporary social reality is no longer thinkable in terms of worlds, nations or deep-rooted, independent, isolated communities. Although individuals continue to act in specific places, what has now become apparent to all is how the various geographical areas are linked together in different ways by a continual circulation of objects, people and information. This has changed and will continue to change relationship patterns, concepts and our perceptions of near/far, pertinent/afferent possible/impossible, belonging/extraneous. We have entered a truly multicultural, interdependent world, which can be understood and changed only in a plural perspective that is able to converge cultural identity, global networking and multidimensional policy. The new economy is organised, as Castelles says (Castelles, 2002), on global networks of capital, management and information, whose access to technological know-how lies at the root of productivity and competitivity. Interactive computer systems operate in wide-ranging, open networks and the information technology paradigm has jumped from mere connection between computers to co-operative computing, which reaches beyond the position of the subjects involved in the interaction. Out of networking as a fundamental form of competition in the new global economy (and from its accompanying new information technology) has emerged a new organisation model: the networked enterprise (Castelles, 2002). These are enterprises (and a growing number of organisations and institutions) that are organised in networks of variable geometry, the webs of which make the traditional distinction between large and small companies less important, and that provide services through their connectivity (their structural capacity to facilitate communication without interference between their component parts) and consistency (the degree of interest sharing between the goals of the network and those of its components). This is a new division of work based on the attributes and capabilities of each worker, rather than on the organisation of their working roles. Work is increasingly based on teamwork, networking, outsourcing and subcontracting. Continuing along Castelles’ line of thought (Castelles, 2002), our contemporary societies are increasingly built around a bipolar opposition between the network (globalisation) and the ego (identity). The networked society looks increasingly like a meta-social mess to the eyes of most people, where setting up a meta-network leads to the disconnection of non-essential functions, of subordinate social groups and of devalued geographical areas. Interconnection and multiculture are key context factors that some people very explicitly interpret as aggravating circumstances (to defend oneself against), others as a necessary field of confrontation (the starting point), and others as an opportunity and driving force for sustainable innovation (to be exploited). 1.1.6.4 System innovations for a sustainable development It has been argued above that if we assume sustainability seriously, we have to change a lot, we need radical innovation in the consumption and production system, we need system discontinuity. In other words, given the dimension and the nature of this change, we have to see transition towards sustainability (and, in particular, towards sustainable ways of living) as a wide-reaching social learning process in which a system discontinuity is needed. Therefore a, system approach is important in order to seriously tackle the transition towards sustainability, i.e. so called system innovations should take place. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  11. 11. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 Within the wide debate on the definition of system innovation12, design researchers have usually referred to the so called Product-Service System. Among the several converging definitions the one given by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2002) says that a system innovation (referred to as Product-Service System, PSS) is: “the result of an innovative strategy that shifts the centre of business from the design and sale of (physical) products alone, to the offer of product and service systems that are together able to satisfy a particular demand”. Even though the definition might differ from author to author (or from discipline to discipline), we can agree that we are talking about something broader than just product innovation. And that it is not only a matter of technological innovation, but socio-cultural and organisational one as well. 1.1.6.5 System innovation for sustainability and design To conclude this part, we should lead our argumentations towards the role of the designer. Let’s start with the most authoritative definition of design so far, the one given by the International Council of Society in Industrial Design (ICSID), in 2005. “Design is a creative activity whose aim is to establish the multi-faceted qualities of objects, processes, services and their systems in whole life-cycles”. Particularly relevant to our discussion is that, unlike previous definitions, it considers the system within the scope of design not only products and processes. In addition, promoting the idea that design considers “whole life-cycle”, makes significant reference to matters raised by the environmental issues (see learning resource 2.1). This definition is different in many ways from the one given by Tomàs Maldonado from the same organisation 40 years ago: “By industrial design we normally mean the designing of industrially manufactured objects”. According to most design researchers a more significant ambit in which to promote radical changes for sustainable consumption, seemed to be the widening possibilities for innovation beyond the product, particularly innovation of the system as an integrated mix of products and services that together lead to the “satisfaction” of a given demand for well-being (Goedkoop, van Halen, Riele, Rommes, 1999; Brezet, 2001; Charter, Tischner, 2001; Manzini, Vezzoli, 2001; Bijma, Stuts, Silvester, 2001). Nevertheless, the introduction of system innovation (or PSS) into design (for sustainability) has led researchers to work on defining new skills of a more strategic nature. In fact, when speaking of innovation on the system level, the main characteristics are: • radical innovations, not as much as technological ones, but as new interactions/partnerships between the stakeholders of the demand satisfaction system (life cycle/s) • potentiality to be orientated towards sustainable solutions: innovations that could lead up to new convergences (with economic interest) between the stakeholders, characterized by system eco- efficiency and/or social equity and cohesion. 12 See Andersen M., System transition processes for realising sustainable consumption and production, proceedings Perspectives on Radical Changes to Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), Sustainable Consumption Research Exchange (SCORE!) Network, Copenhagen, 2006. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  12. 12. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 The consequence of this understanding has been the identification of key issues for the design practice. Firstly, design must learn to develop environmentally sustainable products and services together. Then, an issue somewhat new to today’s design culture and practice, design must learn to promote and facilitate new configurations (interaction/partnership) between different “stakeholders”, to find innovative solutions able to lead to a convergence of economic and environmental interests. Finally, the ability to operate/facilitate a participatory design process among entrepreneurs, users, NGO, institutions, etc. In fact, these skills are part of so called strategic design. Such considerations are leading towards a convergence of system design for sustainability with strategic design. Therefore it has been argued (Brezet, 2001; Manzini, Vezzoli, 2001) that design for environmental sustainability must use and integrate the methods and tools of strategic design (and vice versa). Finally, key-elements of the system design for sustainability are: • satisfactional unit as reference, i.e. demand-satisfaction design • stakeholder interactions as subject, i.e. stakeholder configuration design • sustainability as objective, i.e. design for system eco-efficiency and social equity and cohesion. 1.1.6.6 The design of satisfaction systems The first key point lays in the satisfactory approach where the focus is no longer on a single product, there is no need to design or assess a single product, but the whole process of every product and service associated with satisfying certain needs and/or desires. The term satisfaction is proposed to emphasise the enlargement of the design scope from a single product to the system of products and services (and related stakeholders) that together fulfil a given demand of needs and desires: in fact a given demand for satisfaction. The use of this terminology meets with other authors’ interest. Meadows (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, 2006) uses satisfaction in a formula13 to evaluate the limits of growth, in a 30-year update of the previous book known worldwide, “Limits to Growth”, modelling the consequences of a rapidly growing world population and finite resource supplies, commissioned by the Club of Rome. Marks (Marks, 2006) argues that among various indicators measuring personal well-being in the framework of transition towards sustainability, satisfaction seems to be preferable. 1.1.6.7 The design of stakeholder configuration/interactions The second key task is to introduce a “stakeholder interaction” approach, or if we want to design the stakeholder-configuration, the system design approach should project and promote innovative types of interactions/partnerships between appropriate socio-economic stakeholders, while responding to a particular social demand for satisfaction. To visualise the mode of approach it may be useful to think of and draw a parallel with the design questions that more typically concern a “traditional” designer, who in designing a product defines the technical, performance and aesthetic characteristics of its components and its connections, in order to describe the configuration of the product components that are not characterised by materials (with specific performance functions) and by their connection systems. In this way a 13 In “Limits to growth: the 30-year update” (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, 2006) the following formula is used: Res. & Energy/per year = # of people x (Satisfaction/Person – Year) x Res. & Energy/Per satisfaction). carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability
  13. 13. course System Design for Sustainability . subject 1. Sustainable development and design: the reference framework . learning resource 1.1 Sustainable development . year 2007-2008 systems designer for sustainability must imagine and promote innovative types of “connections” – partnership/interaction – between appropriate components – socio-economic stakeholders – of a system responding to a particular social demand for satisfaction. In other words the components of a satisfaction system are characterised by socio-economic stakeholders (with their skills and abilities) and by the interaction occurring between them (partnerships, or more generally, interaction). Therefore designing the configuration of a system means understanding who are the best socio- economic stakeholders (components) and what are the best interrelationships (connections). 1.1.6.8 Not all system innovations are sustainable Should be noticed that, naturally, not all system innovation are eco-efficient or socially equitable and cohesive. Even if it is rather obvious, is good to remember it constantly, to avoid the intuitive assumption, that any obtainable innovation is already carrying the potentiality for sustainable development. It is just better to avoid acritical research and design, thinking that new obtainable system innovation will bring along environmental and socio-ethical solutions anyway, without really being equipped with enough sensitivity, conceptual vocabulary nor operational tools, that would allow actual re-orientation towards sustainability and result estimations. For this reason, in terms of the development of new systems it is expedient to operate and adopt appropriate criteria and guidelines. Which brings up the great importance to study cases and develop methods and tools to manage and orientate the design process towards sustainable (eco- efficient and socially equitable and cohesive) stakeholder interactions/relationships. Something there have been a lack of. Some developed methods and related tools will be presented in learning resource 5.1-2-3. carlo vezzoli . politecnico di milano . INDACO dpt. . DIS . faculty of design . italy Learning Network on Sustainability

×