The infographic visualizes the structure and interaction of the rating categories for assessing the potential for transformation of sustainability initiatives, as developed in the project "From Niche to Mainstream - How to Spread Sustainable Practices";. The evaluation system pursues the aims of initiatives, social innovations, sustainability innovations etc. to their potential for transformation and their sustainability effects, and to evaluate them, depending on the application context.
On 13 September 2016, the expert workshop "Discussion of an assessment system for civil society initiatives to measure sustainability and transformative potential" took place in Berlin. At the workshop, about 30 participants from science, policy, foundations, and sustainability initiatives discussed the first draft of a criteria catalogue for measuring and presenting the societal benefit of niche sustainability initiatives, especially their sustainability and transformative potential. Stephanie Wunder, Senior Fellow at Ecologic Institute, presented the assessment system.
In the workshop, the application of the criteria catalogue to two case studies was also presented. The criteria for estimating the sustainability potential, the transformative potential, the organizational capacity for action, and the scalability of the initiatives were developed from 13 political and scientific assessment systems and from transition literature.
In the last few years, transformation research has gained increasing attention as means of studying socio-ecological crises and radical change towards sustainability. Especially the transformative research mode, through which research actively engages in societal change processes, is intensely debated. This workshop, organized by DRIFT with support from Ecologic Institute, aimed at self-reflection on empirical and theoretical foci, frameworks and suitable research methods in transformation research. The workshop report is available for download.
Despite many efforts and policy initiatives to strengthen sustainability in business and society the efforts taken so far do not seem to be sufficient to address current sustainability challenges and environmental degradation. However, there are numerous local initiatives, companies and social innovators that have successfully established sustainable practices. They often operate in a niche but provide innovative ideas and alternatives that have the potential to improve sustainability at a greater scale.