SUSTAINABLE INNOVATION 2023
Accelerating Sustainability in the Creative Economy and Creative Industries
Insights from Sustainable Innovation 2023
Professor Martin Charter, The Centre for Sustainable Design ®, UCA
Summary of Insights
- Creative industries are a major global industry but the environmental impact of the sector is not well understood; there is a need for improved data and baselines to increase understanding of the impact of sustainability and improve performance.
- Achieving sustainability in the creative industries requires systemic change.
- The context of the creative industries has been transformed by climate change, and unlocking value requires digital and social transformation.
- Increasing awareness and climate anxiety is changing customer behaviour, particularly among young people; Gen Z, are likely to drive sustainability in the creative industries and demand new solutions.
- Cross-sector cooperation and sharing of learnings and tools is essential to drive sustainability in fragmented creative industries; promoting sustainability requires collective action and community engagement physically and online.
- Industry leadership and bodies must work with the government to address significant sustainability impacts in the creative industries.
- Design plays a critical role in sustainability, with 80% of a product’s impact determined during the design stage.
- Embracing innovation and fostering sustainable entrepreneurship can drive change and accelerate sustainability in the creative industries.
- Communication related to sustainable behaviour should avoid causing cognitive dissonance: storytelling can raise awareness, create narratives around sustainability issues, and promote pro-environmental behaviour.
- Fictional characters and positive role models can encourage sustainable behaviour, while short stories with solutions-focused narratives can address eco-anxiety.
Insight No.1: Strategic Overview I (Day 1)
- The creative industries contribute significantly to the economy but lack clear benchmarking data and baselines.
- System change is necessary to achieve sustainability in the creative industries.
- Climate change has changed the context in the creative industries, and digital and social transformation is needed to unlock value.
- Eco-anxiety and customer behaviour, particularly from Gen Z, are drivers for sustainability in the creative industries.
- Fragmentation needs to be addressed through cross-sector coordination.
- Sustainability tools and learnings have been developed for segments of the creative industries, but these are not being transferred: for tools and learnings to be used they need to be in the ‘language’ and ‘culture’ of the segment.
- Service-based creative industries’ digital footprint, such as in gaming and broadcasting, has a significant impact on climate change.
- Design plays a critical role in sustainability, with 80% of a product’s impact determined at the design stage.
- Leadership and industry bodies need to work together with government to address significant impacts on sustainability in the creative industries.
- Innovation is critical to achieving sustainability in the creative industries.
Insight No.2: Strategic Overview II (Day 2)
- Large companies hold significant power in advancing sustainability in industry generally and specifically in the creative industries and they should be more engaged and involved in promoting sustainability.
- Government policies play a crucial role in advancing sustainability in the creative industries, and stronger policies are needed to address sustainability issues effectively.
- Technology is increasingly driving the creative industries but there is a lack of data on the environmental impact of online delivery and ‘the world behind the screen’.
- Facing the climate change reality is essential, and storytelling can be a powerful tool to raise awareness and create a narrative around sustainability issues.
- Procrastination and fragmentation are common barriers to sustainability in the creative industries
- Communicating/working across the creative industries is necessary to overcome silos and increased collaboration is essential to advance sustainability int the sector: pooling learning and solutions is essential to tackle the industry’s sustainability challenges.
- The younger generation is more concerned and focused on sustainability issues, and needs to be engaged in the dialogue
- Cutting through the noise of information is necessary to address sustainability issues in the creative industries.
- Integrating green nudges, such as in gaming, has the potential to positively influence consumer behaviour towards sustainability.
- Better communication and storytelling are essential for promoting sustainability in the creative industries.
Insight No.3: Consumers, Education and Advertising (Day 3)
- Recognising and tackling unsustainable practices is crucial for accelerating sustainability in the creative industries.
- Lack of knowledge and eco-anxiety can prevent individuals from acting on sustainability.
- Young people should be involved in shaping sustainability initiatives.
- Promoting sustainable behaviour should be communicated in a way that avoids cognitive dissonance.
- Advertising can perpetuate high-carbon lifestyles and contribute to climate change.
- Fashion has a significant environmental and social impacts and needs to be addressed by industry, policy and civil society.
- Theatres and galleries can use immersive environments to communicate sustainability issues.
- Non-fiction and fiction delivered through the creative industries can be used to promote pro-environmental behaviours, but fear-based messages may not be effective.
- Fictional characters and positive role models can promote sustainable behaviours; and short stories with solutions-focused narratives can help address climate anxiety.
- Collective action and community engagement – both physically and online – are essential for promoting sustainability.
Insight No.4: Games, Music, Film, Theatres and Museums (Day 4)
- Communication between the segments of the creative industries must improve.
- Engaging all stakeholders and being specific to the segment can lead to successful sustainability initiatives e.g. Green Book in theatre.
- Theatres are community spaces and must reflect sustainability values.
- The shift to sustainable theatre is audience driven.
- There is a lack of understanding and awareness about sustainability among producers and crew in theatres and film.
- Incorporating green nudges in gaming can be a positive strategy to stimulate pro-environmental behaviour amongst young people e.g. Playing for the Planet.
- The music sector is becoming increasingly aware of the need to address sustainability but lacks concrete examples such as Evolution Music’s bio-polymer LP records.
- There is high demand for sustainability among music students e.g. at Leeds Conservatoire.
- Networks such as the Green Stories network highlight the importance of storytelling in sustainability and help promote positive stories and disrupt high carbon lifestyles.
- Funders are beginning to ask more sustainability-related questions.
Insight No.5: Fashion, Clothing & Textiles (Day 5)
- Policy makers in Europe are starting to recognise the significant environmental and social impact of the fashion sector
- Young people are increasingly aware of clothing production and sustainability issues.
- There is a trend of people not valuing their clothes as much as before.
- Conscious consumption can lead to the development of start-ups and scale-ups focused on upcycled garments.
- The preowned luxury market is growing, and attitudes towards second-hand clothes are changing, resulting in the emergence of new players and platforms in the re-sale market.
- Second-hand clothing consumption is becoming more mainstream and accepted, which can contribute to sustainability in the fashion industry.
- Transparency is important in the second-life product market.
- Dumping second-hand clothes in countries like Ghana causes significant environmental and social problems and damages the global supply chain.
- Different mindsets are needed amongst stakeholders in the fashion value chain to accelerate sustainability in the sector.
- Business plans and entrepreneurship are essential to drive sustainability in fashion.
Insight No.6: Design & Materials (Day 6)
- Crisis can lead and drive innovation and invention.
- There is still a need for pressure on politicians and policymakers on sustainability issues.
- Product thinking with a focus on sustainability started in the 90s.
- Designers have limited power and generally do not want to be sustainability experts.
- Systems and lifecycle thinking are essential to understand sustainability at a product level.
- Sustainable design requires careful consideration of trade-offs.
- Choices must be made when designing sustainably.
- Bio-based materials and circularity enabling infrastructure e.g. industrial composting, pose opportunities and challenges.
- Repairability and maintenance will need to be factored into future product life extension strategies.
- Data-driven approaches, such as AI, can help prolong product lifecycles and drive increased productivity.
Insight No.7: Case Studies (Day 7)
- Communities are crucial for accelerating sustainability in the creative industries.
- Communities (online/physical/hybrid) that bring together different people, ideas and ‘communities of practice’ from different parts of the creative industries can foster innovation and sustainability.
- The use of technology in the creative industries must be ethical and consider the impact on society and the environment.
- Digital ethics and data ownership are important issues to consider, as avatars and digital models become more prevalent in the fashion industry.
- Re-defining ownership and consumption patterns can lead to greater sustainability e.g. sharing, reuse, repair and refurbishment.
- Textile waste is a significant problem in the fashion industry and there is a need for new policy, initiatives and practice to drive increased circularity.
- The tension between western culture and craftsmanship pose cultural and economic challenges.
- Collaboration with indigenous people can help recover lost culture, wisdom, and techniques.
- Designers should connect, collaborate and co-create with indigenous communities, so knowledge is not lost and diversity is celebrated – new forms of education, networking and training are needed
- Circularity in the jewellery industry is important to help create resilience, as precious materials have a long-lasting value and should be repurposed rather than discarded; there is a need for increased transparency in sourcing.
For more information on Sustainable Innovation 2023, please contact:Professor Martin Charter
The Centre for Sustainable Design ®
University for the Creative Arts
Tel: + 44 (0) 1252 892878