The Impact Lab invited as expert to the international 'Lab on Labs' event


lab experts from around the world

intensive days

question: how can labs be leveraged as a new democratic tool for sustainability?

‘Current times are characterized by an increase in “wicked” problems that challenge established forms of democratic governability. The current climate crisis as well as the digitization are only two examples of this kind of problems that are not compatible with territorial political boundaries. They need timely actions from the local to the global level beyond the traditional divide in specific policy areas. In addition, in an increasingly complex world such problems call for particular expertise. How can we foster transformative change in a democratic manner when problems are increasingly complex?

In response to the challenges of globalization and complexity, different types of labs, such as innovation labs, living labs or transformation labs, have been created world-wide that bring together multiple stake holders to create innovative solutions. These labs have, however, hardly been acknowledged by the scholarship on democracy.’ (IASS)

Lidia Gryszkiewicz from the Impact Lab has been invited as an expert to the ‘Toward Democratic Transformations: A Lab on Labs’ event organized by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) research group Democratic (Re)configurations of Sustainability Transformations in cooperation with the Science Platform Sustainability 2030. The event took place on 9-10 December in Potsdam, Germany.

Putting together lab practitioners and lab researchers from around the world in one room is an interesting experiment in itself. Even more so when you ask them to work on the concept of labs in a lab format, led by experienced lab facilitators. The focus of the intensive two days was working out how to use labs as instruments of democratic transformation in the context of sustainability. We have shared our experiences in organising labs in different settings (from Climate Innovation Lab in Luxembourg to Transformation Lab in Mexico, to Gov Lab in Austria, to name just a few), our academic and policy expertise on the lab concept, our visions of what impact labs can bring to today’s societal challenges, and how to work with governments in a lab mode. We have worked on specific lab challenges ranging from the German government to the Amazonian context. We prototyped, self-managed the discussions, shared and networked.

Participating in this event has been an incredibly inspiring experience. For the first time, such a diverse and experienced community of lab experts have come together to learn from one another and push the potential of labs further. For The Impact Lab, it has been an incredible opportunity to get to know other lab experts from around the globe, enrich our own knowledge and working methods, but also share proudly our own expertise.

Photos copyrights: IASS/Rolf Schulten/Bianca Schröder/Michael Palmer