WEBINAR: Sustainability is 'the Ultimate Design Brief'. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion.

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimates that 75% of UK consumers' carbon emissions come from the use of products and services. We also know that 80% of the environmental impacts of those products and services are determined in the early stages of design (EU). These two figures tell us that sustainability is chiefly about stuff and that the impacts of products or services are pretty much designed-in (or out for that matter) from the very outset; “Design is the problem as well as the solution”. Jannicke Hølen, programme leader Innovation for All, and Knut Bang, Senior Advisor of Design at DOGA (Design og arkitektur Norge), propose the following: If environmentalism's success was in spotlighting sustainability problems to the world, the success of design will be in helping deliver solutions.

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Photo by Rosan Harmens on Unsplash.

The creative decisions you make today have the power to shape the sustainable future of tomorrow. Traditional manufacturing is wasteful, because it focuses exclusively on the end user. The circular economy mindset looks much wider, to consider everyone who extracts, builds, uses, and disposes of things. By zooming out from users, to consider the wider network of stakeholders, we can unlock value at every stage of the process. As a designer, that includes building feedback loops into your work; knowing the life cycle of materials you use; collaborating with other industry stakeholders; and considering unintended consequences.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cover nearly every aspect of our future — for our planet, and for humankind. They concern all people, all countries, and all parts of society. There are 17 in total, and they amount to nothing less than a complete transformation of global civilization. And the deadline? The year 2030. But the ideas, solutions, buildings, and things created by designers, architects, and creative professionals will last far longer than any deadline. They will continue to impact and transform our world, its systems, and people for years and generations to come.
The SDGs are a design brief for the 21st century. On 25 September 2015, when the 193 Member States of the United Nations approved the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) they also created the world’s most demanding design brief. The SDGs are “universal”: this means they apply to every nation, every sector, every business, every profession, including design and architecture.

The SDGs are about “integration”: this means they demand a new emphasis on a systemic approach that does not sacrifice environmental and social considerations to economic gain, but rather seeks for true synergies and solutions that benefit people, nature, and prosperity.
Finally, the SDGs are about “transformation”: this means they challenge us to rethink the way we live, to rebuild all the systems that are degrading ecological and human health — and to make our world sustainable.

In sum, the SDGs are the ultimate design and architecture challenge: how do we create, and recreate, a world that achieves all 17 of the visionary goals that have now been agreed to by all the world’s nations? And how do we achieve this by the year 2030? The designers, architects, and creative professionals of the world have been handed a special and enormous responsibility, given to them by the 193 heads of state. They must imagine and bring to life the design elements of a new, sustainable world — quickly.

The Oslo Manifesto was about energizing a movement of designers, architects and creative professionals to embrace the SDGs as design standards for a new sustainable world.

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Knut Bang, Senior Advisor Design.

About the presenters

DOGA is a driving force for sustainable value creation through design and architecture. We facilitate collaboration between creative talents and businesses and work to strengthen the role of design and architecture in shaping the Norway of tomorrow.


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Jannicke Hølen, Programme Leader Innovation for All.


Tags: Environmental Humanities, IKOS, HF, Design og arkitektur
Published Mar. 5, 2021 12:07 PM - Last modified Mar. 5, 2021 12:07 PM