Exploring the (co-)creation of sustainable solutions

S.J.F.M. Maase, C.H. Dorst

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Society is transforming into an ever more complex social network. This means that problem solving and the nurturing of change in society is becoming more difficult. Recent experiences in the field of sustainable development have shown that top-down governance does bring some incremental improvements, but that these ways of working don’t solve the problem to the necessary level. The question arises how to develop sustainable solutions, and how to manage the transformation of our network society into a more sustainable one, while responding to contemporary human needs. The local bottomup initiatives presented in this paper bear witness to the existence of the creative potential of individuals and communities to create sustainable solutions. Our objective was to explore the development of these bottom-up initiatives and to possibly discover factors enhancing their successful development. The cases studied here resulted from the Emerging User Demands programme of activities, funded by the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme. In total one hundred and eleven cases from all over Europe were gathered. Subject of study are the seventeen Dutch cases gathered in the EMUDE programme. Additional interviews were held with the case initiators. Of each case a system organization map was created visualizing the stakeholders and how they work together. Cases were then mapped with regard to complexity and bottomup versus top-down initiation. This exploration seems to indicate that the presence of a co-creation and participatory approach enhances the successful development of cases with high complexity. We think that by studying co-creation processes and participatory design tools, and by experimenting with their active application in bottom-up cases with high complexity, opportunities to facilitate and enhance the development of grassroots initiatives will arise.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-13
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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