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“How can I make sustainability tangible early in a project?” 

Sustainability Strategy Canvas

The human-centered approach to make sustainability tangible!

Sustainability is the understanding to recognize one's own responsibility in all areas of life and society and to leave a livable environment for the next generations. This leads to the definition of sustainability as:

"the state of the global system, including environmental, social and economic aspects, in which the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
[according to ISO Guide 82].

In fact, according to ISO 9241-210 (Human-Centered Design), sustainability is also one of the basic building blocks of Human-Centered Design. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has taken up the challenge of developing "standards for a sustainable world," which means that the application of international standards must include the qualities, needs, requirements, and recommendations for sustainability. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a good guide to review decisions, developments and projects for their effects and impacts on sustainability. Different units of the entrepreneurial organization may focus on different goals and related issues, just as a wide range of projects requires contextual differentiation. This discussion therefore requires a strategic process.

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Sustainability Strategy Canvas
Sustainability Strategy Canvas | swohlwahr

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Buckminster Fuller

The Sustainability Strategy Canvas can be applied at 3 levels:
  1. At the organizational level - where sustainability goals are applied to the entire organization, its management, processes, employees, suppliers, customers, and ecosystem.
     

  2. At the portfolio level - where sustainability goals are applied to the areas tasked with planning, creating, producing, designing and developing products, systems and services.
     

  3. At the project level - where sustainability goals are considered in the context of the particular use of a specific product, system or service - both when applied by individual users and by groups of users, up to and including comprehensive life cycle management.


For each project, both negative and positive short-, medium- and long-term effects are identified in the respective context - related to all SDGs in question. Based on this mapping, constructive user requirements [shall] and negative user requirements [shall not] can be derived.


Products, services and systems always generate both positive and negative effects in different areas for different stakeholders. The human-centered approach provides means to enhance positive effects and mitigate negatives.

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