Unleashing Grassroots Innovations for Sustainability


The quest for sustainability’s holy grail will be the subject of a keynote presentation by Gill Seyfang (3S, UEA) at the European Society for Ecological Economics 2015 conference.

Her challenge is to find the key to unleashing the transformative potential of grassroots innovations, such as sustainable money, food, energy, housing, transport and food systems, whose achievements and efforts are too often marginalised and unsupported.

Drawing on two decades of research with radical community-based experiments for sustainability, Gill will present new research findings which aim to identify the factors which best enable these kinds of projects to succeed, grow and have greater impact.

The presentation focuses on a recent study of community currencies such as LETS, time banks and local money (e.g.the Bristol Pound). These are parallel systems of exchange, designed to operate alongside mainstream money, meeting additional needs. There are many thousands such projects across the world, taking a variety of forms, and they aim to deliver a range of social, economic and environmental benefits. They derive from a deep green or ecological economics critique of our debt-based money and growth-oriented economic systems, and seek to create more sustainable systems of finance and exchange.

Viewing these collective, civil-society-based projects as innovative niches, she draws on the sustainability transitions literature, and specifically Strategic Niche Management, to help identify the determining factors for grassroots innovation niche diffusion.

The aim is to contribute to an emerging body of knowledge about grassroots innovations for sustainability and thereby help to unleash the power of community action to influence wider systems.

This 11th biennial conference, hosted by Leeds University UK, is on the theme of Transformations, and runs from 30 June-3 July.