Around 30 delegates representing the European Commission, United Nations and a host of other international organisations and governments attended the successful launch of the European Network of Ecodesign Centres (ENEC) at Mechelen on the 28th of November.
The launch was hosted by OVAM (co-founders of ENEC) and chaired by Dr. Frank O’Connor, Director Ecodesign Centre (co-founders of ENEC).
The event included a keynote from Michael Bennett (Policy Officer-Ecodesign, DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission) on the critical role ENEC can play in supporting the Commission meet the challenges of a more resource efficient Europe. On behalf of the Commission Michael congratulated the founding members for taking the initiative in launching this first of its kind interregional collaborative network, inviting ENEC to work closely with them in ensuring Europe is at the forefront of stimulating demand for ecodesign.
European based Ecodesign Centres lead the way in making ecodesign happen through launching a first of its kind interregional collaborative network.
Given the challenges of a more sustainable Europe five prominent Ecodesign Centres and their respective regional governmentshave joined forces to create a collaborative platform to generate, disseminate and apply ecodesign and life-cycle thinking knowledge. This first of its kind agreement has been termed the European Network of Ecodesign Centres with the network launch, in partnership with the European Commission, at Ovam in Mechelen (near Brussels) on the 28th of November.
The respective founding centres are Ecodesign Centre (Wales), in partnership with the Welsh Government, Basque Ecodesign Center part of Ihobe (Basque Country), Ovam Ecodesign (Flanders), Effizienz-Agentur (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Pole Eco-conception (Rhone-Alpes).
I recently attended an event at the Danish Embassy on “Designing Policy” that was organised by the Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group. The event was to address the challenge of designing policy while highlighting the opportunities by learning from the experience of MindLab in Denmark. If you don’t already know, Mindlab are a cross-ministerial innovation unit that use innovation and design methods to improve the development and delivery of policies in Denmark.
Experiences were shared by Christian Bason, Director of Innovation at Mindlab and there were responses from a panel of experts from design and policy such as Jill Rutter of the Institute for Government, Lucy Kimbell of the Young Foundation, Aviv Katz of the Innovation Unit, Ailbhe McNabola of the Design Council and Richard Harries of the Department for Communities Local Government.
The examples from Mindlab were inspiring but from a design perspective they are common sense. Lots of designers would be asking why don’t we already use user-centric methods, micro-macro ethnography, co-design and co-production when developing policy? Surely we should better understand the communities and people we are developing policies for by exploring, experimenting, protoyping, failing, testing and improving continuously?
In the last week we responded to two Welsh Government consultations – one on the Innovation Strategy for Wales and the other on the Sustainable Development Bill.
To support these consultations, we produced a position paper on how these policy areas are linked and what role ecodesign plays in these links.
Yesterday I visited HM Treasury for Visual Camp. This was an event that brought together designers and policy makers to explore how we can use visualisation to improve what we do and how we do it. Prior to the event I submitted two options/scenarios to explore. The organisers asked me to introduce one of these – “explaining policy to designers and design to policymakers”.
There were three parts to this scenario.
- There is a broad lack of understanding of design in policy circles. Policy makers understand innovation (especially technical innovation) but they don’t have the tools to understand design from a policy perspective.
- Designers don’t really understand policy. As designers are moving into new spaces such as social innovation it is becoming clear that there is a lack of understanding of policy process and delivery (power & control)
- Policy makers could benefit from design. We need to innovate on how we shape and deliver policy and strategic design tools can help with this.