Name of Method
Levers of a Sustainable City is a scaling model to accelerate the adoption of good sustainable practices in municipalities. It aims at turning means that have proven to work well into concrete action. The model consists of several interconnected methods and of a typology of scaling activities. The model emphasises the importance of learning from one’s peers as well as the need to highlight the added value that adoption of new practices brings about. The approach has been developed for the Ministry of the Environment in Finland but can easily be adapted to other policy contexts.
Type/Level of Method
The model helps to identify the gatekeepers behind good practices, i.e. their “owners”, and to connect with their equivalents in other cities. It gathers together people in thematic groups to discuss the essence and the broader value of the identified good practices, and the prerequisites of transferring the practices elsewhere. Together it is easier to deal with the resistance that the introduction of a novel practice is likely to face. With its emphasis on narrating both the added value and the path to success, the model is well equipped to resist short term thinking.
Problem, Purpose and Needs
The scaling model addresses the slow pace in adopting good sustainable practices. It has identified levers that strengthen the systemic nature and the efficiency of scaling. It helps to identify what is worth scaling in the first place and what the key preconditions of scaling are. It also helps to reflect on the different scaling paths associated with each good practice.
Relevance to Climate Neutrality
Essential Considerations for Commissioning Authorities
Governance Models and Approaches
Spectrum of participation
Actors and Stakeholder Relationships
The model builds on the central role of good practice “owners” as well as potential adopters. A facilitator gathers these people together for joint sense-making. Some participants may take the role of interested observers that are not yet in the position to adopt a certain new practice. With those that are ready to try out the adoption of a selected good practice, the process can lead to the entire group sparring their scaling work – or to forerunner follower pairs – where the “owner” acts more like a tutor for the adopter.
Actors and Stakeholders
Interaction between participants
Social Innovation Development Stage
If this approach is adopted as an overall approach steered e.g. by a national level organisation, and the identification of good practices starts from scratch, it might typically mean a one-year or at least a six-month process to run through. In contexts where building on existing work is possible, shorter commitments would suffice. Also, hiring an expert facilitator would help to keep on a relatively fast pace.
Resources and Investments
Resources and Investments
Step by Step
a) the key vocabulary and literature on scaling to understand and make explicit the frame conditions. In this way, people can have a realistic idea of both the benefits and limitations of the approach.
b) the typology of scaling (sub)categories, which can be used as a starting point for discussion (see, for example, the figure below). It also can anticipate possible scaling pathways and the dynamics between single best practices and their broader adoption.
Applying the criteria of good practices, selecting the best ones amongst those proposed (e.g. by a call for good practices). The criteria could derived from good practices in general as well as the thematic specificities that stem from the content. The criteria can be used as a whole or partially, choosing the most suitable section from the criteria according to the requirements of the scaling environment.
Types of criteria that should be considered are: effectiveness of sustainable development, dimensions of sustainable development, needs-based, performance, portability, feasibility, cost effectiveness, inclusivity.
It is important for municipalities to examine beforehand whether a potential useful practice is scalable and effective in their respective contexts.
A series of thematic exchange event was set up. The "owners" of good practice were invited to share their experiences with potential adopters, creating a feeling of 'being in this together'and to learn from and support one another. These events can be modified to suit other scaling contexts as well, but it works best in a relaxed atmosphere, within a collective of practitioners.
Here, it is equally important to learn from the good practices what has worked but also what has not worked. As practices are people-based, the actors and their enthusiasm are key. In addition, city and municipality networks can be useful to exchange experiences with peers.
4. Narration of benefits
By introducing and empowering creators and developers of good practices to shaire their stories in an interesting way and as openly as possible, the adoption of the good practices is can be stimulated elsewhere. This showcase demonstrates the added value and benefits of the practices, without hiding possible challenges. This could be achied through, for example, thematic group presentations, audio recordings, Youtube videos and newsletters.
In particular, highlighting (financial) benefits and preferably verifying them as well can be useful to convince management actors. When conveying the narratives, the enthusiasm of the owners is best captured if they are able to tell the stories and experiences in their own words. These can then be used as a basis for building new narratives.
Each element of the scaling model can be evaluated separately and developed further to match with the respective policy environment.
To make the chosen good practices compelling for the decision makers, a number of storytelling methods can be utilised, such as hemed group presentations, event recordings, and short Youtube videos.
Flexibility and Adaptability
The approach is open to alternative conceptualisations, selection criteria as well as different peer learning and storytelling approaches and could also be adapted to an energy transition context. However, the core features that shouldn’t be compromised include the central role given to the “owners” of good practices and their empowerment and furthermore, their engagement with the possible adopters.
Existing Guidelines and Best Practice
References and Further Resources
The development process of this approach as well as the final scaling model has been documented, but so far in Finnish only. https://kestavakaupunki.fi/skaalaus
Ministry of the Environment. (2022). Good solutions put to practice – boost to scaling good practices for sustainable urban development. https://ym.fi/-/hyvat-ratkaisut-kayttoon-vauhtia-kestavan-kaupunkikehityksen-hyvien-kaytantojen-skaalaukseen?languageId=en_US
Schmidt-Thomé, K., Päivänen, J., & Tynkkynen, O. (2021). Helpommin sanottu kuin tehty—Kokemuksia skaalauksen toimintamallin rakentamisesta kunnille. Kestävä Kaupunki. https://kestavakaupunki.fi/-/helpommin-sanottu-kuin-tehty-kokemuksia-skaalauksen-toimintamallin-rakentamisesta-kunnille