In this section, we’ll think about the relationships between technology, innovation and development. With the emergence of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other, related agendas (e.g. the Sustainable Energy for All agenda), it is increasingly clear how much emphasis (and, indeed, faith) is being put on the role of technology and innovation in delivering sustainability.
This section provides some critical perspectives and conceptual tools for navigating and analysing these emerging agendas, from the global to the local scale.
At the end of this module, a successful participant should be able to:
- Name the “3Ds” of the STEPS approach to innovation and sustainability.
- Articulate why the 3Ds are integral to a Pathways Approach to sustainable innovation and development.
- Define what is meant by “grassroots innovation”.
- Articulate how grassroots innovation might contribute towards pathways towards sustainability that are of benefit to poor and marginalised women and men.
In this section:
4.1: Innovation and Sustainability – the 3D agenda
- STEPS Centre (2010) ‘Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto’, STEPS Centre, Brighton – multimedia version (see especially text on “A New 3D Agenda)
Questions to guide reading
- Why do the authors argue that traditional metrics for measuring innovation (‘gross expenditure on R&D’) are limited? Why is this important when thinking about sustainability?
- What do the “3Ds” stand for?
- In what way do the authors argue that these 3Ds can support socially just and environmentally sustainable directions of innovation?
Lecture: Dr Adrian Ely, Innovation and Sustainability – the 3D agenda
- Ely A., Smith A., Stirling A. (2013) Innovation politics post-Rio+20: hybrid pathways to sustainability?, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 31: 1063-1081
- Leach, M., Rockström, J., Raskin, P., Scoones, I., Stirling, A. C., Smith, A., Thompson, J., Millstone, E., Ely, A., Arond, E., Folke, C., and Olsson, P. (2012) Transforming innovation for sustainability, Ecology and Society 17(2):11
- Stirling, A. (2009) Direction, Distribution and Diversity! Pluralising Progress in Innovation, Sustainability and Development, STEPS Working Paper 32, Brighton: STEPS Centre http://steps-centre.org/wp-content/uploads/stirling-paper-32.pdf
- Stirling, A. (2014) Emancipating Transformations: From controlling ‘the transition’ to culturing plural radical progress, STEPS Working Paper 64, Brighton: STEPS Centre http://steps-centre.org/wp-content/uploads/Transformations.pdf
- Discuss how attending to direction, diversity and distribution might underpin innovation policy that can support socially just, environmentally sound pathways to sustainability.
- How does the STEPS 3Ds agenda link to the ideas raised by Stirling in his “keep it complex” paper? (see Part 2: Uncertainty and incomplete knowledge)
4.2: Grassroots Innovation
- Fressoli, M., Arond, E., Abrol, D., Smith, A., Ely, A. and Dias (2014) When grassroots innovation movements encounter mainstream institutions: implications for models of inclusive innovation, Innovation and Development 4:2, 277-292 (open access version) (OA)
Questions to guide reading
- How do the authors define “grassroots innovation movements” (GIMs)?
- What are the two different modes of engagement that the authors describe as occurring between GIMs and mainstream science, technology and innovation institutions?
- Why are the authors interested in these modes of engagement?
- What material effects do the authors argue that these modes of engagement result in?
- What is their relevance to development policy and practice?
Lecture: Prof Adrian Smith, Grassroots Innovation
- Smith, A., Fressoli, M., Abrol, D., Arond, E. and Ely, A. (2016) Introducing Grassroots Innovation Movements (OA – accepted manuscript), chapter in Grassroots Innovation Movements, Abingdon: Routledge Earthscan
- Smith, A., Fressoli, M. and Thomas, H. (2013) Grassroots innovation movements: challenges and contributions, Journal of Cleaner Production, 63: 114-12
- Seyfang, J. and Smith, A. (2007) Grassroots Innovations for Sustainable Development: Towards a New Research and Policy Agenda, Environmental Politics 16(4): 584-603
- ‘Grassroots innovation: historical and comparative perspectives’, STEPS project webpage
- Discuss the tensions and synergies between ideas of “grassroots innovation” and “inclusive innovation”.
- How do grassroots innovation movements interact with mainstream science, technology and innovation institutions and why might this be of interest to development policy and practice?