From niche to society: social innovations for sustainable consumption

Photo: / S.Bachstroem

Numerous initiatives – such as repair cafés – show how our society can use fewer resources and thus operate more sustainably. Or projects within community-supported agriculture or the sharing economy. Initiatives such as these can set an example, offering people alternative modes of consumption and triggering changes in behaviour. But these initiatives remain, predominantly, niche-based. If they are to contribute significantly to reducing resource use – and the transformation so urgently needed in current patterns of production and consumption – they must be long-lived and of broad impact.

Ways of achieving this are examined by the research project “From niche to society: social innovations for sustainable consumption”, which asks:

  • what steps towards professionalization can foster long-term survival of such initiatives?
  • what factors or processes inhibit or help social innovations connect to other initiatives promoting sufficient behaviour; and
  • based on these factors/processes, how can third parties or the public sector support such initiatives?

Developing viable solutions

In addition to filling a research gap, the project aims to identify ways for such initiatives to take root. To this end, we are also investigating:

  • How should such initiatives be structured (i.e. what should be their business model) to succeed past the start-up and experimental phase and become established in society in the long term?
  • How can learning processes within the niche be improved?
  • What factors can strengthen the joint representation of the initiatives’ interests?
  • How – and by whom – can current initiatives be supported to enable them to take root and, eventually, become a large part of the supply landscape in Switzerland?

Strengthening the innovation pool

The project is based on an understanding of "diffusion", which differs from "scaling up" or merely increasing the number of users of an initiative. It assumes that social impulses are created mainly when initiatives multiply (replication) or when the original ideas are further developed and transferred to other fields (translation) – strengthening and expanding the innovation pool.

Pilot project planned

With its twofold objective, the project operates at the interface of research and practice. This makes its methodology strongly transdisciplinary: the researchers work with the relevant target groups to develop possible solutions. The methodologies they employ are diverse and include workshops, literature reviews, and qualitative interviews. Ultimately, this process is intended to lead to the start of a pilot project, whose impact will be scientifically evaluated.

Gesellschaftlicher Wandel durch Nachhaltigkeitsinnovationen

Zivilgesellschaftliche Nachhaltigkeitsinitiativen leisten einen wichtigen Beitrag zum Wandel in eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft. Dies, indem sie neue Ideen ausprobieren und damit Alternativen zu den gängigen Konsum- und Produktionsmustern bereitstellen, schreiben Stephanie Moser und Christoph Bader in einem Blogbeitrag.
Date: 31.3.2023  | Source: One Planet Lab

«Es geht um Verantwortung, nicht um Profit»

Es gibt sie: die Initiativen in Richtung eines nachhaltigeren Lebens, die klein anfangen, aber manchmal grossen Einfluss bekommen. Stephanie Moser erforscht am CDE der Uni Bern solche Nachhaltigkeits-Initiativen und ist beeindruckt von deren Vielfalt und Dynamik. Im Interview weist sie aber auch darauf hin, dass diese gerade in der Schweiz noch mehr Unterstützung benötigen.
Date: 22.12.2022  | Source: "die umwelt"

Plastikmüll – übel oder überschätzt?

Nachhaltigkeitsforscherin Stephanie Moser vom CDE erklärt, wie sich aus vielen kleinen Schritten und aus initiativen Ideen von einzelnen Pionier*innen der Schwung für grosse Veränderungen entwickeln kann. Stichwort Elektromobilität oder Zero-Waste-Bewegung.
Date: 24.12.2021  | Source: Radio SRF

Buch am Mittag: Nachhaltig konsumieren - Wege aus der Nische

Am 13.12. 2022 präsentierte Stephanie Moser vom CDE am "Buch am Mittag" das Buchprojekt zu Start-ups und zivilgesellschaftliche Initiativen, die mit neuen und innovativen Varianten die Konsum- und Produktionsmuster nachhaltiger zu gestalten versuchen.