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Waves of Change: A case study of Drawdown Toronto in the climate action space

Format: Maps & Exhibits, RSD11, Topic: Socioecological Design

Janine Stowe, Aisha K, Neha Saini, Sumona Banerji and Vinit Soneji

Drawdown is the future point when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and decline steadily. Project Drawdown is a non-profit organization that seeks to help the world reach the point of drawdown by 2050 through various initiatives. Project Drawdown conducts an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions—the practices and technologies that can stem and begin to reduce the excess of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere—to provide the world with a current and robust resource. Their framework, solutions, and resources inspire localized groups and empower communities to come up with solutions that can be implemented regionally. 

Our research addresses the following primary questions:

  1. What are the climate challenges that need to be addressed in the next ten years?
  2. How can we engage key stakeholders to implement actionable climate change solutions?

We looked at Project Drawdown and the local chapter of Drawdown Toronto as a case study in the climate action space. Our research culminated in a service design brief and synthesis map presenting a high-level overview of key systems models, our findings, and strategic recommendations. The full report and map were presented to Drawdown Toronto, which plans to use the information to inform its future strategy.  

The map is best read from left to right. The main visual feature, and the inspiration for our title, is the three-horizon map that outlines current climate challenges in the first wave, elements of an ideal future in the last wave, and areas for proposed strategic interventions in the middle wave. While providing extensive insights, it also acts as a quick reference tool presenting a big-picture look at climate change as a wicked problem. 

The first section on the top left provides an overview of Project Drawdown as an organization. Next, in Framing the System, we used an iterative inquiry tool to flesh out the function, structure, process, and purpose at each level and how they relate and feed into each other. To the right are casual loop diagrams that outline common archetypes in the system. In Uncovering Challenges, we identified key challenges in the climate action space and mapped their influence on each other from the bottom to the top, deriving key insights. Lastly, the Transition by Design approach identifies the key action areas and proposes recommendations for Drawdown Toronto’s future strategic initiatives at the micro, meso and macro levels.


Pre-proceedings drafts are available for review. The corresponding paper number is at the end of the title.




Citation Data

Author(s): Janine Stowe, Aisha K, Neha Saini, Sumona Banerji and Vinit Soneji
Year: 2022
Title: Waves of Change: A case study of Drawdown Toronto in the climate action space
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 215
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 1 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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