Co-creation for Sustainability as a Societal Learning Journey

Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


Lifelong learning underpins economic, ecological, and social wellbeing, and provides the foundation for citizens to shape the future of societies collectively. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ‘Transforming our World’, outlines a sustainable future in various dimensions. Cities are an example of learning communities that can benefit from looking at lifelong learning not only as an individual capacity, but the capacity of a collective of actors. This chapter explores the relationship between lifelong individual and collective learning with particular focus on learning in multi-stakeholder collaboration that enhances systemic change towards sustainability. It argues that new competencies are needed, such as collaboration, trust-building, genuine dialogue, and the ability to see learning as an integral element of working towards more sustainable societies. The last decade has seen a proliferation of collaboration efforts for sustainability initiatives in multi-stakeholder settings, which can be seen as one way of advancing both individual and collective learning. More structured methodological approaches to collective learning are needed. The chapter suggests one such methodology—the Collective Leadership Compass—a guiding tool for transformational change processes in multi-stakeholder collaboration. Derived from 20 years of practice in complex multi-stakeholder settings around system’s change for sustainability as well as scientific exploration into living systems theory, the compass functions as diagnosis tool and a process methodology. It enhances the collective learning capacity of a system of diverse actors engaged in societal change initiatives. The application suggests that multi-stakeholder collaboration for sustainability issues is an interesting laboratory for understanding what accelerates collective learning as a core element of the long-term flourishing of human societies and the planet as a whole. Further research could include exploring how institutional actors could make use of such methodologies in societal change for sustainability.


Collective learning Collective leadership Multi-stakeholder collaboration Sustainability Co-creation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Collective Leadership Institute gGmbHPotsdamGermany

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