Authors: Merlina Missimer, Karl-Henrik Robèrt and Göran Broman
Arguably, sustainability is the most complex challenge humanity has faced to date. Not only are the impacts of our behavior resulting in more and more sever repercussions, but we are also realizing that the causes of unsustainability are deeply embedded in the design of many of the systems we rely on. This means, of course, also, that solutions to the problem cannot be one-off ideas, but that strategic and systematic transformation of many of our systems is needed. Because of the necessity of the re-design of our economic and other man-made systems, it has been suggested that sustainability science should be considered a “science of design” (Miller 2011). Perhaps it can be considered one of the most “wicked” cases of design, as it needs to aim both for significant impact and a participatory approach to solve the challenge.
One framework that approaches the sustainability challenge from a design angle is the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD). Specifically, it is based on the idea of strategically and step-wise designing sustainability out of the systems we currently rely on. The FSSD is a trans-disciplinary framework built on insights from systems thinking and has been continuously developed for the last two decades. Its core is built on backcasting from principles of re-design for sustainability, which allows for wide-spread agreement on what sustainability means and allows for creativity within these constraints, so that each group or organization can create their own path towards sustainability within these constraints. The FSSD has been used in organizations all over the world to create real transformation towards sustainability.