Design for Government; The Systems Perspective

Looking at the future of Finland’s Hiking Areas: New Uses, Users and Identity in the second phase of the Design for Government course.

“Nature doesn’t need us, we need nature” Per-Erik Skagerlid – Swedish Nature Conservationist.

This spring I started a new project-based course titled ‘Design for Government’.  The course aims teach to us how to apply design thinking to complex challenges in the government and public sector. At the beginning of term we were divided into multidisciplinary teams and given the task by the Finnish Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture to come up with ‘new uses, users and identity’ for Finland’s State Hiking Areas. For the purpose of this project we will focus on Evo Hiking Area, which is the largest continuous piece of forest and only State Hiking Area in Southern Finland.

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Evo Hiking Area. Illustration: Abigail Garbett

In the first part of the course we focused on the ‘Human Perspective’ where we became familiar with the task at hand. This involved meeting members of the Ministry and Metsähallitus who manage the Hiking Areas, interviewing various people involved from Scout groups to the international tourists, carrying out desktop research and finally conducting a field trip to Evo (You can read more about the first phase here).

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First impressions of Evo Hiking Area from the ‘human perspective’. Layout: Andreas Sode, Illustrations: Abigail Garbett

For the second phase we have been focusing on the ‘Systems Perspective’. For this section we built on the data collected thus far to form a more holistic view of the brief and the problem we would like to address. We began this process by expanding on our initial affinity diagram (where we mapped our key findings from the desktop research on a post-it note wall) to include key quotes and insights from our interviews. In the picture below you can see how our understanding has grown from week 2 to week 6.

After we felt satisfied that all our data was represented on the affinity diagram, we began to structure our points into categories and visualised the relationships between different stakeholders. Through this process we identified education, human well-being and ecosystem health as being important leverage points for us. We used systems mapping to illustrate the problems and needs of our stakeholders and with Mengxiao’s excellent illustrator skills our post-it notes were transformed into a complex systems map.

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Systems Map of needs and problems. By Mengxiao Li

Evo Hiking Area has a unique history as the home of Finnish forestry education and currently includes a teaching forest managed by HAMK University and nature reserves. The area is frequently used by the nearby Lammi Biological Station and Scout groups who have a unique educational agenda. We also discovered that local primary and secondary school teachers would like to use the area more to teach children about nature. Andreas helped us to understand the relationships between these educational institutions via a second systems map.

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Education Activities in Evo Systems Map. By Andreas Sode
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Local School Teacher Perspective. Illustration by Abigail Garbett

We also identified that these activities are only possible if the native ecosystem is properly looked after and respected. We spoke with biologists and a conservationist working in the field to better understand the ecosystem perspective. On the one hand the extinction of plant and animal species is happening at faster rate than ever before and one the other we are loosing our knowledge about the natural world.

“The ‘collective memory’ is not maintained and there is a lack knowledge of what once grew” Annette Sode – Biologist.

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From Guardian Article: ‘Have Children Lost Touch with Nature? Illustration by Abigail Garbett

In the context of Finnish Hiking Areas it is essential education and respect for nature is promoted. 

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Looking at Hiking Areas from an Ecosystem perspective. Illustration by Abigail Garbett
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A ‘Rich Picture’ of Evo’s Ecosystem. Illustration by Abigail Garbett

We used Peter Checkland’s ‘rich picture’ technique to illustrate the ecosystem’s complex role in providing education, work and leisure time in Evo.

Looking forward, we will focus on two key research questions for the final ‘intervention’ phase of the project. We aim to consider the potential for Hiking Areas, in particular Evo Hiking Area to provide meaningful nature experiences which raise awareness for the natural ecosystems on which we all rely.

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Graphic by Andreas Sode

Our team is made up of Andreas Sode from New Media, Ming Unn and Mengxiao Li from Collaborative and Industrial Design, Riina Ruus-Prato from Product and Spacial Design and me from Creative Sustainability.

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The Team! Illustration by Abigail Garbett

 

Commitment to Change; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, day 3

On the final day of YFS we presented the final draft of our UN fashion resolution at Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Copenhagen Fashion Summit serves as a platform for all areas of the industry to meet and discuss the ever pressing issue of sustainability in fashion. The event was led by inspirational speakers from leading NGOs such as Green Peace and experts on circularity such as William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle and Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The theme of this year was Commitment to Change with a focus on creating ‘common understanding and industry-wide commitment on the most critical issues facing our industry and planet’.

Our resolution addressed each of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and covered areas including education, well being and civic empowerment as well as circularity, transparency and pollution. Following our presentation (which you can read in full below) Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Impact invited us to present our resolution at the UN Global Compact Leader Summit in New York during the UN General Assembly. Kingo emphasised the need for a future where “sustainable business is mainstream business” and reminded us of our responsibility as future fashion leaders “to write the playbook for the next steps the industry needs to take today, to create the world for tomorrow”.

It was an honour to present our resolution on stage alongside thought leaders like Lise Kingo, Eileen Fisher and Livia Firth and I hope our resolution will help others in the industry wake-up to the urgent for change. From the all the speakers, the message I took from the summit was the time for action is now.

Read our full resolution below;

1. Expects the fashion industry to begin immediately working with non-profit initiatives and government groups to reduce inequality, alleviate poverty and ensure food security, with progress made by 2030, including through:

(a) helping to reduce inequality by reinvesting 0,7% of annual sales to support local manufacturing communities;

b) providing all workers with access to free health insurance, day care facilities, a meal a day and professional training;

c) suggesting governments and industry leaders enforce sustainable agricultural practices to help ensure food security by increasing the share of organic polyculture farming by 50%;

2. Urges all stakeholders in the fashion industry to establish global and local partnerships to make the world a more equitable, just and peaceful place, by:

(a) requesting all stakeholders to collaborate on breaking existing barriers between people, companies and member states to enable a flow of sustainable progress;

(b) welcoming the UN to develop a full sustainability report by 2020 that provides a holistic evaluation of the fashion industry, measuring performance not only in relation to monetary value;

(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate the implementation of a third-party organ by 2025 to monitor the status of collaboration between stakeholders related to the fashion industry;

(d) insisting that fashion stakeholders fully commit to a standardized performance system, by 2025;

3. Compels relevant stakeholders to strengthen the human bond, from maker to wearer, through education and changing the mindsets of producers and consumers by:

(a) requiring fashion companies to provide on company websites, labels, social media, and in reports transparent information per garment of each step in the whole supply chain by 2030;

(b) demanding manufacturers to empower workers by prioritizing educational activities regarding labor rights, personal financial growth, leadership, and worker representation in 10% collective ownerships;

(c) encouraging the UN to facilitate an interactive platform in at least five languages, bringing people together to take action against inequality by participating in online courses and webinars, involving industry leaders, government, organizations and companies;

4. Requests stakeholders to protect and restore our natural capital by:

(a) implementing ecological systems and recycling technologies throughout the value chain by substituting conventional cotton, reducing landfills, and eliminating textile waste in the fashion sector by 2030;

(b) encouraging fashion companies and manufacturers to immediately commit to water stewardship programs and to disclose personal targets for the same, to protect life below water from microplastic contamination, aiming to eliminate all virgin plastic by 2030;

(c) insisting that brands and governments support manufacturers and producers in eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals and materials, complying with the Greenpeace Detox Campaign to reduce pesticide use by 50% by 2022, achieving total elimination by 2030;

5. Calls on the entire fashion industry and the involved member states to lead the global preservation of and access to freshwater for all by 2025 through intensified research and investment in innovative technologies by:

(a) reducing water pollution and the release of harmful chemicals by 50% in 2025 and by 100% in 2030;

(b) introducing closed-loop water recycling legislation on a government level;

(c) implementing shared value community water management in collaboration with governments, NGOs, industries, and local communities, as well as stressing the urgency and awareness of these issues through education provided by member states and the fashion industry;

6. Obliges stakeholders to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement, ensuring that, by 2030, 100% of the total energy used in the fashion supply chain will be renewable energy by:

(a) inviting all member states to ensure renewable energy practices by encouraging public and private partnerships throughout the fashion supply chain, reaching a binding commitment agreed upon by 2018;

(b) requesting that all organizations’ energy consumption statistics be published for public access;

(c) requiring the entire fashion supply chain to set in place the necessary infrastructure and encourage innovation to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency; In commitment to our future,

7. Appeals to all stakeholders to invest in recycling technology and infrastructure with the aim to transition to circular mindsets and systems in fashion production by:

(a) encouraging all member states to adopt already existing technologies to collect and process commercial and industrial textile waste By 2022;

(b) investing in a platform to share information, facilities, and resources to provide guidelines and tools to enable a holistic circular system for all stakeholders in the fashion industry by educating them about circular strategies and solutions by 2020.

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Negotiations; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, Day 2

Meeting with industry stakeholders on the second day of Youth Fashion Summit 2017

On the first day we worked in small groups dedicated to one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 to develop fashion specific targets for positive change.  On day 2 it was time to put those targets to the test with industry stakeholders. Each group met in turn with a representative from the luxury sector, the high-street, government, manufacturing and civil society to negotiate their objectives for the future.

The High-street was represented by Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Business Expert at H&M.

The Luxury Sector was represented by Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Swarovski and Myriam Coudoux, Head of Communications.

The Government was represented by Lars Mortensen, Head of International Cooperation and Partnerships at the European Environment Agency.

Civil Society was represented by Lu Yen Rololf, Communications Lead for ‘Detox My Fashion‘ Campaign at Green Peace.

As part of Flourishing; The Ecological Agenda team, we requested action in four different areas related to Sustainable Development Goals; 13 Climate Action, 14 Life below water and 15 Life on land.

In regards to land use we urged all sectors to work together in the implementation and upscale of alternative ecological materials in substitution of conventional cotton. We requested that by 2030, conventional cotton must be phased out of supply chains. We urged the industry to reduce landfill reliance and invest in recycling technology. This was well received by Hendrik Alpen from H&M, who felt confident these were an achievable target for the High-street. H&M is already on track to reach their personal target of 100% sustainable cotton use by 2020.

When discussing water usage, Dax Lovegrove from Swarovski suggested fashion companies together with manufacturers commit to water stewardship programmes and disclose personal targets for the responsible water consumption.

In order to preserve marine life and protect the health of our oceans from micro-plastic contamination, we also appealed to fashion brands to take the necessary steps to reduce the use of virgin fuel based products by 2030.

We asked companies and manufacturers to the disclose their chemical reduction targets and to comply to frameworks such as the Greenpeace Detox Campaign with the aim of eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals by 2030. We requested the fashion industry move towards a low carbon business model (following Global Climate Action targets set at COP21) and asked companies to publish science based targets for 2022.

We received valuable feedback from all of the stakeholders which enabled us to refine and develop our initial targets into dynamic and achievable objectives. We spent the afternoon condensing this work into a final resolution to present the next day at Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Something to take away…

Harvard principles for open and honest negotiation…

People – treat people and problems separately

Interests – put interests at the centre of discussion rather than positions

Options – before deciding on solution develop a range of options

Criteria  – build result on objective decision making principles

 

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Drafting a resolution; Youth Fashion Summit 2017, Day 1

Working together with students from around the world to draft the first UN resolution on sustainable fashion practices.

At Youth Fashion Summit 2016, we explored the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and developed a manifesto of demands for the industry regarding a range of ethical concerns; from climate action and pollution to gender inequality and over consumption (read our full report here). After the success of last year, the Global Fashion Agenda and Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA) decided to invite the same students back to transform our initial demands into a fully fledged resolution to present at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017.

Day 1

Conscious Luxury

Dax Lovegrove, Global Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility at Swaroski opened the event with a key note speech on conscious luxury. He spoke about Swaroski’s vision as a driver of positive change to do more than ‘less harm’. We learnt how to identify and discern between the different layers of impact and how to address each area on an individual basis. From ‘Footprint’- the ecological impact of the fashion industry, to ‘Mind print’- the consumer attitude towards sustainable consumption and finally ‘Political Print’ – how government policy can be used to support unity and positive change within the sector.

Ecological Agenda

We then broke off into smaller groups to review our demands from the previous year. We began developing a concrete action plan and set some initial targets to put to our stakeholders.  We used the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report created by The Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group to find facts that gave weight to our demands. The report draws on Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index and in-depth surveys of various fashion companies to create a comprehensive guide to the industry’s current environmental and social performance. As part of Flourishing; the ecological agenda team, I worked with Sustainable Development Goals 13,14 & 15 regarding climate action, life below water and life on land.

In the afternoon we worked on a negotiation strategy to use when discussing our demands with industry stakeholders the following day.

Voices from the industry

Scan 4eSusie Lau, fashion blogger and YFS ambassador encouraged us to think about how we can put the knowledge gained from Youth Fashion Summit into practice in our own careers. She emphasised the importance of story telling and making the subject of sustainable fashion more compelling. By referring to ‘alternative’ fashion instead of ‘sustainable’ fashion, Susie suggested we could reach a wider audience by stealth. It is vital mainstream fashion media take greater interest in the subject.

 

Simon Collins, former dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons closed the first day of events with a motivational speech on the role of the designer. Simon explained importance of designers in ‘creating beautiful solutions’ to everyday situations with vision first and strategy second. Simon advised us to focus on creating value rather than profit and to not be afraid of making mistakes.

Something to take away…

The first sentence in our draft resolution;

‘In order for our world to flourish we must protect and restore our natural capital’

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Copenhagen Youth Fashion Summit

On the 9th of May, I met with 100 other international students at the Royal Danish Institute of Fine Art in Copenhagen to discuss the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN general assembly last year.
Our task; to create a manifesto, detailing our demands to the fashion industry related to each of the 17 SDGs to present at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit by the end of the week. After inspiring talks about sustainable leadership from Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia, Eva Kruse, CEO of the Danish Fashion Institute and Dilys Williams from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, we were divided in to groups to discuss our allocated SDGs. As part of the ‘Flourishing’ group, I worked with Goals 13, 14 and 15 regarding Climate Action, Life Below Water and Life on Land. It was an ambitious task to integrate 3 such important goals  in to a single paragraph and we struggled to find a balance between specific criteria and overarching themes however the final result after two days of furious discussion, mind mapping and reflection was a success;

As inheritors of your roles, we demand that by 2030 fashion is no longer the second-largest polluting industry in the world.

You — global policy makers — must work together with NGOs, brands and corporations to create and implement legislation for no more land abuse. Invest in research and innovation.

It is vital that we take responsibility in restoring the air, water and land that we have altered.

Furthermore, we must create more opportunities for life. To let this world flourish, we must stop taking that which we cannot restore.

We are running out of resources.