Monday, November 17, 2008

Sustainability Charette: World Economic Forum in New Delhi

India Economic Summit, New Delhi as a venue for the First Sustainability Charette of the World Economic Forum.
Prof. M P Ranjan

Image 01: NID designers Anand Saboo, Vishnu Priya, M P Ranjan, Praveen Nahar, Shreya Sarda and Mitushi Jain at the India Economic Summit’s Design Charette with world industry and expert participants across six groups that examined and developed innovative concepts and frameworks for sustainable futures leading to design opportunity offerings for many sectors of the consumer industry.

The World Economic Forum made a call earlier this year for collective action to manage Sustainability for Tomorrow’s Consumers Initiative. A series of steps were hence initiated to lead up to a CEO Report to be taken up at the Davos Governors Meeting on 29th January 2009. The first steps included the New York strategy meet, which kicked off the search for directions and solutions to the worlds pressing problem of bringing sustainability to its Consumer Initiatives. The WEF developed a three-stage framework to tackle the issues and these are listed below:
1. The Business Case for Sustainability.
2. Design Innovations for Sustainability
3. Shaping the Framework Conditions.
For the first time the WEF turned to designers in India and this brought them to NID, one of India’s leading design schools, to participate in the proposed Design Charette in New Delhi with students and faculty involvement along with a carefully selected group of lead industries and experts in sustainability to examine the issues and perspectives across several consumer industries in order to innovate and build prototypes and models for future sustainable practices and products and services.

Image 02: Participants at the hands on Design Charette set up by the World Economic Forum team with Deloitte consulting at Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi on 15th November 2008.

The six groups looked at six broad product categories from the future sustainability angle to examine resource constraints, regulatory and policy implications as well as possible design opportunities that the situation offered to take stock of the current and future trends and make sensitive offerings at business process, product design and behavior change levels that may need to be addressed by businesses as well as governments of the world. The charette was a stimulating learning setting for all participants and it brought together designers from industry, social entrepreneurs, economists and experts all looking at the multi-dimensional problem of sustainability using systems thinking. I am pleased that we were involved in the first such event in New Delhi and we do hope that design will now be brought into the centre of our global search for solutions and through these we will build a sustainable future for all. The World Economic Forum’s initiatives are here at their website and I am sure more will follow as the work done in New Delhi grows to become a movement for the use of design across many geographies and sectors that are in search for sustainable models for the future.

Image 03: Three Social Entrepreneurs shortlisted for the final award of 2008 making a presentation of their innovation concept and action on the ground. Rajat Gupta delivered the keynote lecture at the event.

The evening event shifted to the Hotel Imperial on Janpath where the celebrations were on to felicitate the three finalists for the “Social Entrepreneur of the Year India 2008”. The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was started by the founder of The World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab in 2000 and since then the process has identified and felicitated over 150 social entrepreneurs in 40 countries. A significant achievement by any standard.

I hope that they will some time discover designers who have been working in the grassroots sector in India and elsewhere in the years ahead. I remember the group of girls in my DCC class of 2001, who were telling us that they had discovered the way to eliminate poverty using start-up entrepreneurship and they called it the “Baadal” strategy, named after the Indian Monsoon, which picks up good practices from all over India and rains it back over the population just as the monsoon does. They have been working at it for a few years now, in refining their concept and in building their own individual capabilities across many attributes that are needed to deliver the action on the ground and I am sure that in a few more years they would deliver what they had held out as a concept to all of us at NID during their concept presentation to the public which we called the “Concept Mela”. We need more such concept melas and more designers joining the action on the ground in the days and years ahead. These Design Charettes do much the same thing with the participants, small attitude change which would lead to the big sustainable actions in areas where they work and live in the years ahead through design and leadership that they would provide to those around them.

Prof. M P Ranjan

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