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  6. "We invite citizens to discuss future issues with us."

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"We invite citizens to discuss future issues with us."

Interview with Gesche Joost, Professor of Design Research

The "Open Source Lab on Sustainable Mobility" is a platform for collecting and discussing "disruptive ideas for sustainable mobility" together with research, politics and the public. Now it has been relaunched. Gesche Joost, Professor of Design Research, member of the Consumer Affairs Council of Experts and the Supervisory Board of SAP SE, explains why.

The Open Source Lab for Sustainable Mobility is going into operation. What is the lab all about?

The Open Source Lab is a think tank that was set up by the Volkswagen Sustainability Committee to foster a dialogue about ideas and concepts for sustainable mobility. We invite entrepreneurs at startups, researchers, political leaders, initiatives and all citizens to contribute their thoughts to the forum.

You draw on the widest range of groups. What are your goals? Whom should the results help?

We believe that our findings will be relevant to the Sustainability Committee in its work to help the Volkswagen Group become a provider of sustainable mobility. But we also want to reach cities, communities and political leaders. We believe that sustainable mobility will be able to function only if these target groups work together. The effort won’t work if someone just takes off and expects the others to simply follow.

How would you describe your specific goals and your working style?

We have begun to discuss the topic of “sustainable mobility” on a comprehensive basis in a roundtable setting. We had people from France, the Netherlands and Germany in attendance. They came from initiatives, labor unions and even the German Aerospace Center. We understood that the topic would not be limited to new mobility services and that we would need a change of culture and attitudes that would affect each of us.

"Broad citizen participation is very important to us. We make it easy with a normal blog format."

Gesche Joost Professor of Design Research, member of the Consumer Affairs Council of Experts and the Supervisory Board of SAP SE

What was discussed in this roundtable?

One question that we considered was whether the Sustainable Development Goals that the U.N. has defined for the world would also apply to my city, me, my household and my company. The question is thus: Is there a sustainability agenda on which we can base our work? In light of climate change, CO2 reductions are certainly a major goal of sustainable mobility. But isn’t there also a social requirement to provide mobility to everyone, regardless of his or her origin, gender, age or geographic situation? Doesn’t mobility have to be safe for individual users?
We then formulated requirements for mobility concepts of the future if they are to be crisis-proof: inclusive, fair, social and transparent.

You have developed an Internet platform? What function does it have? Does it serve as place to document your work, or can any normal person contribute?

A broad range of participation is very important to us. We facilitate this very easily by providing a normal blog format where we transparently post our work on topics and the range of sources that we use for our publications and commentaries.

If I am a normal citizen and think I have a great idea, how can I offer it to you?

We use co-design and invite citizens to join the discussion about topics of the future as equals with us. From this discussion, we jointly develop ideas and concepts that should be used in people’s everyday lives. Citizens’ initiatives, citizen science or participation formats are important components of our work.

May also be of interest

Sustainability Council