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linking RESearch and POlicy making for managing the contradictions of sustaiNable consumption anD Economic gRowth

Final Report Summary - RESPONDER (linking RESearch and POlicy making for managing the contradictions of sustaiNable consumption anD Economic gRowth)

Executive Summary:
The RESPONDER project was carried out with the aim of applying participatory systems mapping at on-site events (EU Dialogues and multinational knowledge brokerage events) and of developing an internet-based knowledge brokerage platform.

In the course of WP1 (“Basics for Participatory Mapping”), conceptual work for the implementation of the knowledge brokerage system has been carried out, and the system maps produced at two rounds of on-site events (WP5 and WP6) have been processed further in order to build a generic map on the rela-tionship between sustainable consumption and growth and to derive research questions and knowledge gaps in view of preparing a research agenda and to feed into the discussion at the upcoming RESPONDER events.

An interactive systems mapping platform has been developed in the course of WP3 (“Programming and Hosting the Internet-Based Knowledge Platform”). The platform has supported the work on the systems map in the two rounds of knowledge brokerage events. Additionally, as part of WP4 (“Content Work of the Internet-Based Knowledge Platform”), the RESPONDER website has been filled with knowledge re-lated to sustainable consumption and economic growth in general, and with specific knowledge related to the five consumption areas RESPONDER is dealing with.

Three EU Dialogues brought together researchers and policy makers from across Europe in Berlin (19-21 October 2011) and in Brussels (29-30 October 2012 and 10-11 October 2013) as part of WP5 (“Eu-ropean Dialogues on Sustainable Consumption and Economic Growth”). The first EU Dialogue aimed at setting the stage for conducting systems mapping in the upcoming knowledge brokerage events. The second one put a particular focus on “Linking Policy and Science for Greening the Economy”, while the third one focused on the topic "Linking Policy and Science for Sustainable Innovation".

In WP6 (“Multinational Knowledge Brokerage Events for Specific Policy Areas”), two rounds of multina-tional knowledge brokerage events were held on the topics “food consumption” (Lisbon), “mobility” (Bratislava), “housing” (Barcelona), “finance” (London and Brussels) and “ICT” (Vienna). At the core of the events, participatory system mapping exercises were carried out to reveal obvious and latent con-tradictions between sustainable consumption and economic growth, in view of help manage these con-tradictions more effectively. The mapping exercises aimed to elicit relevant questions of policy-makers and link them to the existing body of scientific evidence.

The experiences made in the work packages mentioned above (WP4, WP5, WP6) were critically re-viewed in five Evaluation, Integration and Adaptation Reports that were produced as part of WP2 (“Ac-companying Evaluation”).

The activities undertaken in WP7 (“Community Strengthening Activities”) and WP9 (“Outreach Activities and Dissemination”) were aimed at raising awareness among researchers and policy makers about the RESPONDER projects and the benefits these two main target groups can get out of it, and also included the dissemination of project results. In the course of WP7, a research agenda on Sustainable Consump-tion and Economic Growth and a proposed for a special issue “Systems Perspectives on Sustainable Consumption Policies” to be published in the Journal of Consumer Policy were prepared. As part of WP9, in addition to various presentations at scientific conferences, the final RESPONDER conference “Austerity, Stimulus or Post-growth for Europe?” was held on 21 March 2014 at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Project Context and Objectives:
RESPONDER aimed to develop, implement and evaluate a knowledge brokerage system for managing the contradictions of sustainable consumption and economic growth. Therefore the project’s objective was not only bridge the gap between science and policy, but also to improve the mutual understanding between what could be called the “pro-growth community” (i.e. economists and policy makers oriented towards the EU Lisbon Strategy) and the “beyond-growth community” (i.e. scientists oriented towards the limits to growth and policy makers involved in the sustainability debate).

The overall aim of RESPONDER was to promote sustainable consumption by exploring novel ways of knowledge brokerage that help to improve the management of potential political, social and economic contradictions with economic growth. According to the FP7 call, the project did not seek to conduct new research in this area, but to exploit existing research by new integrative modalities of linking research results to policy-making. Two broad objective areas can be split up into several operational objectives that build upon each other: (1) innovation and scientific progress and (2) networking and improving the application of research findings in policy making.

(1) The innovative potential of the project lied in the methodology for knowledge brokerage, its professional application in different policy areas and the systematic assessment of the experiences gained during the course of the project. This first area of objectives represented the scientific angle of RESPONDER, aiming at innovation and progress beyond the state of the art of knowledge brokerage.

(2) RESPONDER was not just a concept or a prototype, but was designed to set up a fully-fledged knowledge brokerage system in a complex policy area. In doing so, RESPONDER aimed at having several impacts on the communities involved, which can be summarized under the impact angle of RESPONDER aiming at networking and improving the application of research findings in policy making.

Through a series of EU dialogues, RESPONDER aimed for bringing together researchers and policy makers to develop a system map of sustainable consumption and economic growth in order to understand paradigmatic contradictions, conflicts of interest and policy trade-offs. The map was intended to constitute the basis for systematising empirical findings, questioning different assumptions, analysing policies and identifying new research questions. In a series of multinational knowledge brokerage events, the maps were applied to five policy areas (housing, energy, financial, transport and agricultural policies). An internet-based knowledge platform supported a continuous dialogue by “trading” information on facts, trends, policies and experiences based on system maps.

Project Results:
Being a knowledge brokerage project, the main objective of RESPONDER was not to generate new scientific findings by carrying out research, but to test and develop a proven methodology for applying knowledge brokerage between research and policy making in the area of sustainable consumption and economic growth.

The main S&R results of RESPONDER are therefore related with the application of the participatory systems mapping methodology for fostering knowledge brokerage between research and policy making. Apart from the several conference presentations of RESPONDER results (see “main dissemination activities” below), the following written contributions (in the form of journal articles and book chapters) have been prepared or are currently in preparation:

• The paper “Participatory systems mapping for sustainable consumption: Discussion of a method promoting systemic insights” prepared by Michal Sedlacko, André Martinuzzi (WU), Inge Røpke (AAU) Nuno Videira and Paula Antunes (FFCT-UNL) was published on 1 August 2014 by the journal “Ecological Economics” (Volume 106 (2014), p. 33–43).

• WU Wien has collected chapters for a book with the indicative title “Knowledge Brokerage for a Sustainable Europe – Innovative tools for enhancing the connectivity of research and policy-making on sustainable development issues” (Editors: André Martinuzzi and Michal Sedlacko). The book will bring together and summarize the experiences of twelve EU-funded projects on knowledge brokerage. The chapters have been collected, have undergone an editorial review, and most of them have been amended and resubmitted by their authors. Preparations for Part A of the book, consisting of interviews with high-level policy makers and scientists, have been initiated. The book is planned to be published by Greenleaf in spring 2015 and will include a foreword from the new EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation.

Potential Impact:
The central aim of RESPONDER was to test and develop a proven methodology for knowledge brokerage, by applying participatory systems mapping for linking the topics of sustainable consumption and economic growth. The intention of the RESPONDER systems maps is to help understand paradigmatic contradictions, conflicts of interest and policy trade-offs, thus constituting the basis for systematising empirical findings, questioning different assumptions, analysing policies and identifying new research questions.

RESPONDER addressed two main target groups (policy makers and researchers), who should benefit from participating in the RESPONDER activities in the following ways:

Policy makers should be able to benefit from RESPONDER by experiencing innovative forms of knowledge brokerage, by getting easy access to research findings and by networking. RESPONDER therefore aimed at gaining a unique position towards existing initiatives, develop innovative and demand-oriented tools for knowledge brokerage and apply them in a two years process of online and face-to-face interactions. This experience was expected to have significant impacts on the policy makers continuously involved and indirect impacts on policy makers who participate sporadically. The publication “Quels liens entre la science et la politique?” by Hadelin de Beer de Laer (a politician participating in two RESPONDER EU Dialogues) can be considered as an example of the impact RESPONDER had on one of its target groups.

Researchers should be able to benefit from RESPONDER by understanding better the rationality of decision makers, by getting access to decision-makers, by improving the mutual understanding across different paradigms and by elaborating a joint research agenda. These impacts were achieved on the one hand by the innovative approach of RESPONDER to knowledge brokerage and by the implementation of the tools and methods (including a built in evaluation and an assessment of the transferability of the RESPONDER approach). The publications and deliverables prepared in the course of RESPONDER (in particular deliverables D7.1 “RESPONDER Research Agenda on Sustainable Consumption and Economic Growth” and D8.2 “Peer Review and Transferability Assessment Report”) can be considered as good examples of the impact achieved by RESPONDER in the area of research.

Furthermore, civil society and the business sector could also benefit from RESPONDER by having a proven methodology for knowledge brokerage at their disposal, by moving towards establishing a community of experts in knowledge brokerage, and by increased policy coherence in general.

Main dissemination activities:

A project flyer has been created at the beginning of the project in parallel to the development of the project website http://www.scp-responder.eu. Additionally, a project newsletter has been sent out to the registered users of the RESPONDER website in order to inform them about upcoming events, about event documentations that have been made available on the website, about new knowledge units that have been put in the RESPONDER knowledge base, and about other relevant news on sustainable con-sumption and growth from outside the RESPONDER project. In addition to the newsletter, a news section has been made available on the RESPONDER website, informing visitors about “News on SCP and Growth”.

The public outreach of the RESPONDER events (EU Dialogue, multinational KB events) has additionally been accompanied by press work. The following press releases have been published and disseminated among relevant networks:

• A "Green Economy" for Europe: Experts Discuss the Transformation of the Concept into a Policy (2nd EU Dialogue, 29-30 October 2012, Brussels)
• Green ICT for Sustainable Consumption in Europe: Experts Explore Potentials and Trends (2nd MKB on “ICT”, 17-18 January 2013, Vienna)
• Sustainable Mobility for European Cities: Experts Sketch the Future (2nd MKB on “Mobility”, 21-22 March 2013, Bratislava)
• Sustainable Food Consumption: Experts Demand Ambitious Governance Reforms in the EU (2nd MKB event on “Food consumption”, 18-19 April 2013, Lisbon)
• Tim Jackson: “Policy must force finance markets to take a longer term view” (2nd MKB event on “Finance”, 14-15 May 2013, Brussels)
• Sustainable Housing Experts: “Building Sector Should No Longer Be Seen as Engine of Economic Growth” (2nd MKB event on “Housing”, 6-7 June 2013, Barcelona)
• Towards a Sustainable Europe: Experts Call for Stronger Joint Efforts to Stimulate Systemic In-novations (3rd EU Dialogue, 10-11 October 2013, Brussels)
• Beyond Growth: an Alternative to Austerity and Stimulus Paths out of the crisis? (Final Con-ference, 21 March 2014, Brussels)

Additionally, the following presentations about or drawing from results of the RESPONDER project have been held at scientific conferences or other events related to the topics dealt with by RESPONDER:

• Sedlacko, M.; Martinuzzi, A.; Dobernig, K. (2014): "A Systems Thinking View on Cloud Computing and Energy Consumption", paper presentation at the 2nd International Conference on ICT for Sustainability, August 24th - 28th 2014, Stockholm, Sweden
• Videira, N.; Antunes, P.; Santos, R.; Vaz, S.; Lopes, R.; Sedlacko, M. (2014): "Participatory model-ling at the science-policy interface: insights from two sustainable food consumption knowledge brokerage events", ISEE International Society for Ecological Economics Conference 2014 "Well-being And Equity Within Planetary Boundaries", Reykjavik, Iceland
• Dobernig, K.; Lunda, V.; Stagl, S. (2014): "Participatory system mapping for social learning on sustainable consumption and production: findings from five cases in Europe", ISEE International Society for Ecological Economics Conference 2014 "Wellbeing And Equity Within Planetary Boundaries", Reykjavik, Iceland
• Sedlačko, M.; Antunes, P.; Asara, V.; Dobernig, K.; Filčák, R.; Hewett, Ch.: Jackson, T.; Jäger, J.; Lunda, V.; Martinez-Alier, J.; Martinuzzi, A.; Røpke, I.; Rubik, F.; Schneider, F.; Scholl, G.; Stagl, S.; Videira, N. (2014): Linking sustainable consumption and economic growth debates: devel-opment of the RESPONDER research agenda, ISEE International Society for Ecological Economics Conference 2014 "Wellbeing And Equity Within Planetary Boundaries", Reykjavik, Iceland
• Martinuzzi, A., Sedlacko, M.; Jäger, J. (2014): "Knowledge Brokerage for a Sustainable Europe - A Systems Thinking Approach for Increasing the Impacts of Research and Promoting Evidence Based Policy Making", paper presentation at the European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research "Civilisation at the Crossroads Response and Responsibility of the Systems Sciences", April 22nd - 25th, Vienna, Austria
• Martinuzzi, A. (2014): "A systems thinking view on sustainable consumption and growth de-bates", 2nd B.S.Lab International Symposium "Systems Thinking for a Sustainable Economy – Advancements in Economic and Managerial Theory and Practice", January 23rd - 24th, 2014, Universitas Mercatorum, Rome, Italy
• Inge Røpke and Emil Urhammer (2013): “The Responder project – Systems mapping as a tool for dialogue about sustainable consumption and growth”, DIST, Center for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transition, September 10th, 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark
• Martinuzzi, A. (2013): "Linking Sustainable Consumption and Growth Debates – Greener, Smarter or Simply Less?", Academy of Management Annual Conference, August 10th - 13th, Orlando, USA
• Schneider, F. (2013): “For a re-orientation of the housing sector”, CECODHAS Housing Europe Summer Colloquium “Where is the housing in the future of European social contract?”, Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe, Leuven (http://www.housingeurope.eu/event-178/where-is-housing-in-the-future-social-contract)
• Martinuzzi, A.; Sedlacko, M.; Videira, N. (2012): "Systems Mapping - A Tool for Assessing and Managing Complex Situations", Academy of Management Annual Conference, August 4th - 7th, Boston, USA
• Sedlacko, M.; Videira, N.; Martinuzzi, A.; Antunes, P.; Røpke, I. (2012): “Utilising Systems Mapping for Understanding the Contradictions of Sustainable Consumption and Economic Growth”, 18th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference, University of Hull, June 24th – 26th 2012, Hull, UK
• Sedlacko, M.; Antunes, P.; Martinuzzi, A.; Røpke, I., Schneider. F.; Videira, N. (2012): “Utilising Systems Thinking for Sustainable Consumption: How Participatory Systems Mapping Achieves Four Types of Insight”, ISEE 2012 Conference - Ecological Economics and Rio+20: Challenges and Contributions for a Green Economy, June 16th - 19th 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
• Martinuzzi, A.; Sedlacko, M.; Videira, N.; Antunes, P.; Røpke, I. (2012): “Towards a Systemic Un-derstanding of Sustainable Consumption and Economic Growth: Lessons from Different Con-sumption Areas”, Trans-Atlantic Workshop “Sustainable Consumption During Times of Crisis”, May 1st 2012, Bregenz, Austria
• Martinuzzi, A. (2011): “Linking Sustainable Consumption and Growth Debates – Using Systems Mapping to Reveal Different World-Views, Approaches and Mind-Sets”, Sustainable Consump-tion Conference 2011, November 6th - 8th 2011, Hamburg, Germany

List of Websites:

Website: www.scp-responder.eu

Contact:
PD Dr. André Martinuzzi
Vienna University of Economics and Business, Institute for Managing Sustainability
Welthandelsplatz 1
A-1020 Vienna
T: +43-1-31336-4698
E: andre.martinuzzi@wu.ac.at