socio-ecological transformation, changemaker, system change, interview

Designing Planet Responsible Futures — Interview with Lena Jacobi

Lena Jacobi is a designer of socio-ecological transformation who, in her master thesis “Designing Planet Responsible Futures,” examined the fields of action of designers in connection with the food system and the climate crisis.

In your opinion, what is the task of designers in view of the impending climate crisis?

In my opinion, design is a key factor for system change towards greater sustainability and justice. Everything that surrounds us can be shaped and changed. Designers as creative and professional problem solvers can rethink the world. Both when developing products or services that are more environmentally friendly and use fewer resources, for example, but also to raise public awareness of climate change. Designers have the ability to co-creatively and transdisciplinarily accompany and moderate change. This is important because many people are overwhelmed by the impending climate crisis and are resigning themselves with the prospect of a dystopian future that will be widely spread. We need more positive and concrete goals that we can work towards! With clever storytelling, we can create motivation for change and re-frame the task ahead of us.

Last but not least, we know how to design campaigns and have contacts in various areas of our society through our clients and projects: we should use this reach and media expertise and actively drive change forward.

What does a design process look like for you in the face of climate change?

When looking for possible interventions or innovations, I find a combination of methods from systems, futures and design thinking ideal. Because design thinking only focuses on user-centricity. By integrating system thinking methods, effects on society and nature and their interrelationships can be better understood. It analyses where effective levers for change lie and the mere fight against symptoms can be avoided. In conjunction with Futures Thinking, project participants are enabled to think over longer periods of time based on self-developed future scenarios and to take their utopias and wishes into account in the following Design Thinking process. Having a (common) vision that is being worked on provides better decision-making skills and criteria.

Can you give an example of symptoms based on the nutrition system?

Symptoms include zoonoses (BSE, corona) as a result of factory farming. Behind this are complex processes and social structures. From the point of view of climate rescue, it would actually be obvious to ban meat consumption, but there is a great risk that society will not support this. That is why paradigms must first be changed: Meat consumption must lose status and new patterns of behavior must be shaped. Basically, we need a new understanding of people in relation to nature.


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