Although local and regional governments themselves already represent a democratic form of “community” from an innovation perspective, additional community formations might be stimulated as well to fulfill certain societal tasks, in which a strong majority support of the inhabitants is needed, and special interests are at stake. In such cases, the need felt on islands “to keep things in our own hands” can be transformed in own communal organizations, with stakes for everyone.
Typical issues for which these special communities might create appropriate solutions are ferries and other public transport, energy and water services, tourist resort building, nature protection, etc. Some of these aspects, like nature protection, might already be covered by -also locally representative- national organizations or NGOs in the area of nature and landscape conservation, bird protection, plant and tree protection, etc However, with the transition to a more sustainable society and the UN Sustainable Development Goals as the ambition (UN, 2017), new special community tasks emerge all the time. Local and regional governments can facilitate these special communities both at their establishment and while in charge their special tasks.
Another responsibility of the island government is to develop future visions, which are challenging, attractive, and realistic when it comes to feasibility. Consulting and otherwise involving the inhabitants and other island stakeholders, in a well-designed democratic and transparent way, in decision-making with respect to the steps to be made and innovation required, is part of the government’s job. Included in such a process can be elements of competition, like when multiple villages on an island start an open competition to become “the best,” for instance in sustainable transport or housing, in promoting an active contribution to the solution of the island’s issues, etc.
Along this line, TIPPING recommends island governments the use of the following “community” related policy options:
- Create a Challenging Vision
- Working with the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)
- Communicate for Acceptance (E = C x A)
- Organize Community Competitions
a. Create a challenging Vision
Local or regional governments can help formulate a challenging vision for the future, including urgencies to consider as policy priorities. For instance, many islands are by definition confronted with the consequences of climate change or face a net outflow of young island- born talents, who move to the mainland for career opportunities. The backcasting scenario approach is an interesting methodology here: Reasoning back from a desirable future scenario to today, while step- by-step envisaging obstacles to overcome and benefits to profit from along the journey with the involved stakeholders (Quist, 2007; Quist, 2013). Also mentioned here should be the eco-acupuncture approach of Melbourne based Prof. Chris Ryan et al (Gaziulusoy & Ryan, 2017), using participatory design visioning for sustainable urban transitions. Undoubtedly, this is an interesting approach for sustainable island futures and innovation road mapping.
b. Working with the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)
When developing your local or regional vision, it makes absolute sense to take the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as points of departure. With 17 goals and 169 sub goals and a similar large amount of indicators the end eavour seems at face value quite bureaucratic and a mission impossible. However, these challenges can be overcome by a smart, efficient and well planned local or regional program.
The attractiveness of the UN 17 SDG Goals is that they involve a holistic approach, with comprehensive, global values: social aspects like poverty, inequality, cultural values, education facilities, gender issues etc. are considered equally or even more important than “classic sustainability” aspects, such as environmental impact and economic viability. (Reubens, 2016). Therefore, frontrunners among countries, regions, cities, companies, universities etc. are quite active in adopting the UN SDG Goals, discussing what the consequences are, how the goals in an concerted action by all stakeholders can be realized and who can contribute what over time.
Joint regional programs are designed in such a way that the SDG Goals are integrated in larger themes and tasks are divided over time and between stakeholders, to increase the feasibility. It is absolutely clear that public municipalities and regional entities, as close partners of the national government, have a special responsibility for these initiatives and should adopt a facilitating role in developing a local or regional SDG program on their island. Such a process could go very well hand-in-hand with the approach described above, regarding using Backcasting scenario’s for vision development.
MEGA PROJECTS AALBORG
c. Communicate for Acceptance (E=C x A)
In communication practice, the law of Wibier* says: the effect of an innovation project = communication x acceptance. In other words, important project outcomes and lessons should both be communicated very well and in such a way that broad support from island stakeholders will be gained. Of course, this is a message for innovation project stakeholders, but also to local governments who can play a special role in safeguarding this ‘law of practice’ and stimulating its application.
THE JAFA PROGRAM
d. Organize Community Competitions
Another way to involve the community in new developments is to challenge them and other stakeholders via competitions. The local government can choose to initiate its own competition, like on “who has the best idea for a sustainable neighborhood?”, or choose to support a competition initiated by industries, SMEs, local science institutes, etc. The awards do not necessarily have to include high-cost premium prizes. Often the honour of winning is significant enough to drive participation. Since nowadays so many competitions are on national television shows, like “The Best Idea of ....” and “Design and Entrepreneurship Competitions” it might be worthwhile to look at their formulas as well, to create a “Best Idea of Island X”, or a student/young entrepreneurs competition with support of local media, etc.
REGIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP COMPETITION
TEXEL BIG DAY
Q1: Who do you define as the community on your island? Do you have (aside from the regular democratic representation) influential groups, like village committees, branch organizations, or other special interest groups?
Q2: What has the “community potential” contributed so far on the island with respect to innovation?
Q3: How has the local government (LG) stimulated the community to contribute? Give your score (mark between 1-10) for the LG activities so far.
Q4: Particularly, to what extent has LG used the TIPPING Strategies 5a - 5d?
Q5: In your opinion: for what projects and how could LG stimulate the “community potential” to make a higher contribution?
At what ambition level? Give your score for the future- and for which 2-4 innovation projects should the LG aim for in cooperation with the community?
Results Community Involvement in your case?