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Co-designing for sustainability: strategising community carbon emission reduction through socio-ecological innovation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Rehema Mary White, Hamid van Koten

School/Research organisations


Designing for sustainability requires us to intentionally and creatively explore and implement radical changes in social as well as environmental arenas. This paper reflects on an interdisciplinary, action research project in which we applied principles and tools of co-creation to facilitate knowledge mobilization between three diverse stakeholder groups: community groups,local authorities (LAs) and academics from diverse disciplines. Our goal was the development of a Community Engagement Strategy for Carbon Emission Reduction for a Scottish Local Authority.Our methodological approach included ethnographic and participatory methods; seminars; strategy prototyping; and shared governance processes. It was concluded that our project provoked ‘social innovation’ by catalysing a value shift in the organizations involved, but that the concept of ‘socio-ecological innovation’ would be more useful in designing for sustainability. This project demonstrates the strategic role designers can play in transcending the constraints of the current consumerist paradigm to co-create a better future.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-46
Number of pages22
JournalDesign Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2016

    Research areas

  • Co-design , Sustainability, Social innovation, Socio-ecological innovation, Climate change, Community, Local government

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