Thirty years of sustainable development discussions – and all the major drivers globally point in the direction of unsustainability. A transformation in direction of sustainability is more urgent than ever. But what is the role of innovation?

More of the same, innovating new things for markets, does not work. At the very least, innovation is in need of qualification. Social innovation has attracted interest for a change in practices aiming beyond self-interest towards the common good. Responsible innovation rethinks the knowledge-technology relation, anticipating consequences rather than remediating impact after. Free innovation points to households and citizens as sources of new ideas addressing actual needs. Exnovation shows the creativity and courage required for divesting from products, policies, and practices. My book Innovation, Ethics and Our Common Futures surveys insights from these emerging streams of innovation theory and practice.

For this task, the book places innovation in relation to philosophy. Sustainability transformation matters, and thus is a matter of values. What can we learn from the philosophical discussions of liberty and community, emancipation and domination for thinking about innovation?

I propose a collaborative approach. Think again of current, global unsustainability, and the ongoing, sixth mass extinction of species. It confronts us with “our” Guernica, a catastrophe and at the same time a complexity akin to Picasso’s famous, multi-perspectival cubist painting. It confronts the viewer with various perspectives to “make sense” of what is happening. And it invites reflection on where you are standing. I take a sufficiency perspective – of enough for all, and with respect for all. The book proposes an ethos of sufficiency for a transformation towards sustainability. It includes just as much transformative innovation missions as it calls for a better recognition of social exnovation.

Read the full article about a collaborative approach to social innovation by Rafael Ziegler at Stanford Social Innovation Review.