The world's cities must make a huge adjustment in response to the climate crisis. Our whole idea of urban life and how we travel, eat, shop, work, build and heat homes must change to deal with climate change. A system change is required that involves new innovative approaches and solutions that include multiple dimensions such as policy and regulations, business models, behavior and infrastructure.
To contribute to this transition, a new form of effort, called system demonstrator, has been developed by Vinnova and Viable Cities as a way to enable system innovation with great power and mobilization to meet complex societal challenges.
Together with six cities (which are also part of the Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative), Vinnova and Viable Cities want to develop a design concept for system demonstrators so that they can function as powerful tools. This concept phase is also a preparation for an actual establishment of system demonstrators.
The design concept must be based on a suitable system or systems to meet the societal challenge(s) that are relevant to the city's climate work. The preparations further involve mobilizing important actors before an implementation phase, as well as identifying relevant policy obstacles and other important aspects. This is to enable extensive transformation of systems and societies.
Why System Demonstrators?
The purpose of developing system demonstrators is to supplement existing forms of intervention that are rarely intended or adapted to solve complex societal challenges and contribute to actual system change. In the work of establishing and implementing a system demonstrator, a large number of different types of actors are mobilized to co-create and learn.
The method is also based on putting the citizens in focus in order to direct the change that can provide a good quality of life where democratic processes can be designed to contribute to a faster transition.
In order to bring about a system change, it is required that actors in practice test and experiment together in concrete, real contexts in time and space. Here, a diversity of possible ways forward is made clear where participation and democratic processes are of central importance. System innovation is also about change in several dimensions at the same time, such as policy and regulations, technology, business models, behavior and infrastructure. These dimensions of change need to be about integrating different solutions and experiments across organizations and sectors.