Our why and how
Regional hubs are a testing ground for local solutions in a global context. Based on future-oriented knowledge and broad engagement, the Wyss Academy and diverse stakeholders co-design and test pathways toward innovative, systemic change.
Our mission is to develop and catalyze solutions that transform the relationship between people and nature. We use the power of knowledge and the creativity of engagement to empower agents of change.
A new approach is needed
Our planet is facing existential challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and inequality. In an increasingly hyperconnected world, these challenges cannot be addressed separately. We have learned that in real world situations, issues are interconnected and can have multiple causes. Moreover, one person’s solution can be another person’s problem. There are no silver-bullet solutions. We will always face surprises and unintended side-effects. This is what we know as “wicked problems”.
A new approach is needed, that takes into account the wide range of connections between issues that affect the relationship between nature and people, and that recognizes that they occur within systems: such as food, economy, energy, or urbanization. Simply producing more knowledge or making rigorous plans will not do the job.
Against this backdrop, the Wyss Academy for Nature pursues a novel approach to overcome the growing gap between understanding the problems and concrete action. In its four Regional Stewardship Hubs, it offers unique living labs – so-called solutionscapes – where researchers and other knowledge bearers engage with multiple stakeholders to co-design, test, and scale-out solutions that enable systemic change.
Solutionscapes: From a shared vision toward innovative pathways
In each of our four Regional Stewardship Hubs, we have identified up to three concrete challenges that must be addressed in order to create a just relationship between people and nature. Each challenge serves as a compass for our interventions and for the establishment of a coalition for change.
The co-design process involves all relevant stakeholders, from science and government to businesses and local groups. Special attention is given to engaging actors from different levels and ensuring that marginalized groups, interests and topics are heard and included in debates. Insights are shared with global partners.
The elaboration of a shared understanding of the social-environmental system, its dynamics and trajectories is an important basis to negotiate a common vision for the future. This understanding is based on scientific research, as well as local and indigenous knowledge.
Guided by this vision, and back-casting the changes needed today, different incubator projects are designed and tested within our solutionscapes. They may comprise economic, technical, social or policy-related innovations. Nevertheless, innovation is not limited to single projects but comes also from their systemic interactions: by avoiding unintended trade-offs and maximizing synergies between the projects, we aim to set the system on a journey towards the common vision.
Failing forward: Constant learning and adaption
Navigating change within a world of wicked problems can only succeed if we learn from failures and the unexpected, and if we constantly improve and adapt our understanding and search for innovation. A system for monitoring, evaluating and learning is currently being developed that will allow us to measure our progress and impact.
We help create a shared vision and a coalition for change.