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Grassroots innovations for sustainable development

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A one-day conference for researchers, practitioners and policymakers in the UK

Friday June 10th, 2005, London


(June 13 - see below for Feedback from the conference)


The UK government’s new Sustainable Development Strategy, Securing the Future, places greener innovation and local action at its foundation. Yet these two themes are considered apart: greener innovation is presumed to be an industrial concern, whilst local action is identified with the community dimension of sustainable development. In practice, the grassroots has often pioneered highly innovative approaches to sustainable development, and it continues to experiment with social and technical innovations today. Participants in this one-day conference will learn more about the innovative potential of grassroots activities.


‘Grassroots innovations’ involve networks of people in bottom-up initiatives that combine social innovations with greener technologies and techniques. In contrast to conventional, incremental green reforms, these initiatives seek to create new social institutions and new 'systems of provision', based upon values that are different to those of the mainstream. Examples include community renewable energy initiatives, eco-housing, local organic food schemes, and community currencies such as time-banks.


The conference will discuss the significance of these grassroots innovations and identify how they may be supported and encouraged. The conference will ask: To what extent do these initiatives exemplify sustainability? How can such innovations initiate change in the absence of top-down support? How relevant are these initiatives to mainstream sustainable development? Participation is invited from practitioners, academics and policymakers. As well as providing an opportunity to network with others interested in this field, the conference will help participants reconsider grassroots innovation as part of a bigger picture, and thereby underscore its relevance to policies for sustainable development.


The conference is a collaboration between two research projects funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and conducted by CSERGE (University of East Anglia) and SPRU (University of Sussex).


Attendance, refreshments and lunch are free to participants, but places must be reserved in advance. For further information, please visit the conference web site


Feedback from the conference Edit

The conference has attracted widespread interest. On the first day it was advertised some 40 bookings were received. In addition to the 80 reserved places there was a waiting list of 100. The organisers of the conference are to include copies of the presentations on the conference web site, and are also to set up an associated email discussion list.


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