Accelerating sustainable innovation in products, services and systems
Consumption is, self-evidently, intimately related to production – especially in terms of the supply of goods and services and how new goods and services can transform everyday lives. Technological and social innovations, both incremental and radical in form, will be crucial to achieve sustainability transitions. While short-term incremental innovations (e.g. more efficient cars or car sharing practices) have a part to play, the scale of the challenge requires major system transitions (and disruptions) over longer 30-50 year time horizons. System innovations will require new technologies, markets, and consumer practices, not to mention accompanying new business models, regulations, and infrastructures. Such innovations involve high levels of risk and uncertainty, but also offer the greatest promise for sustainability transitions.
Our focus is on the processes, scales and speeds through which technological and social innovations spread, with an explicit focus on understanding and advancing the prospects for accelerating innovation for sustainability. Such acceleration will need to avert and overcome forms of system lock-in, making a critical question for this theme to identify the necessary mechanisms and conditions for shifting innovation systems in directions that will render consumption sustainable.