IAF Methods

Local Chain Sustainability Circle (LCSC)

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90 + 11 - 100
Regional Network for Sustainable Innovation
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Improve the sustainability in a specific product or material chain, within the boundaries of a municipality or province. This method is experimental - feedback is welcomed.


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  • A chair person from the local chain
  • preferrably an entrepreneur
  • needs to be recruited.



Setting: Standard meeting room. Projector would be fine.

Number of participants: 11 - 100

Types of participants: Local entrepreneurs, municipality policy experts, network (entrepreneurs, consumers) representatives, knowledge institute representatives

Time needed: 1.5 hour meetings

Ideal conditions: The municipality supplies or pays for initial facilitation, a chair person, secretary services and meeting facilities

Pre-Work Required: A study should be made up front. The report should include: a logistic diagram of the chain within the boundaries of the municipality, a stakeholder analysis (including who is interested in participating in the committee); a contact list of involved companies, institutes and networks; a description of sustainability issues; an indication of sustainability objectives.

Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: The facilitator should be familiar with the local culture of collaboration and reaching agreements.

Facilitator personality fit: The facilitator should have a genuine interest in contributing to sustainability


Meeting ONE
1. Agree about the mission of the committee. E.g. "The local concrete sustainabilty chain committee is an informal collaboration between parties involved the local chain for concrete: municipality, producers, buyers, recyclers, consultants, networks, knowledge institutes. The common objective is to make the local chain more sustainable, with cradle-to-cradle as an end goal. The working principle is that all participants take synchronous measures to shift the chain in small but permanent steps towards sustainability."
2. Select a qualitative (non-SMART) objective, like "Increasing the market share of granulate (recycled) concrete".
3. Invite all participants to mention what they are able to contribute to this objective, without subsidy, and within their commercial, economical or political boundaries. This will result in a list of relatively modest proposals, often about communication.

Meeting TWO
4. Detect and develop synergy between the proposals by asking how each participant can support proposals from others.
5. Set a date on which all actions will become effective.
6. Communicate the set of proposals and the action date to all known parties in the local chain. Ask them to join the effort. Gather feedback.

Meeting THREE
7. Summarize the feedback and adapt the set of proposals.
8. Prepare a public event on 'action day' and invite all chain parties, local press and politicians.
9. Prepare a press release, announcement, website, etc.

10. Do a short event (or a flash mob), including a symbolic kick off for the action set.

All meetings
- Introduce new participants
- Review process and effect indicators (choose new ones)
- Review mission and objectives (add new ones)
- Review current action sets (expand, optimize, synergize, synchronize)
- Review committee development (members, facilities, planning)
- Review external communications

Remark: at the time of writing we've done meeting TWO for the first experiment with this method.

Update July 2011:
- As the number of (potential) participants grows, an association like structure seems to work fine. This means that any company or institution can join the council, as long as they do business in the chain, and as long as they have a publicly stated ambition in sustainability. A smaller group acts as a board and is elected by the council as a whole.
- Membership administration for multiple LCSC's may be combined using a company profile database.


Follow-Up Required: Knowledge institutes could be invited to carry out effect studies.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: Repeated steps towards chain sustainability.

Potential pitfalls: Continuity depends on key persons

How success is evaluated: Developing a set of process and effect indicators is included in the committee assignment.

Examples of successes and failures: In Groningen, The Netherlands, a Local Chain Sustainability Council was set up for concrete (the building material), which represents the second largest local material flow (after drinking water). See http://www.codin.nl/betonketenoverleg-gemeente-groningen (Dutch only, so far). The method has been copied into several other chains in the region.


Source: Peter Bootsma / CODIN (p.bootsma@codin.nl)

Recognizable components: Brainstorming, action planning

References: Brainstorming, action planning

Alternative names: Lokaal ketenoverleg

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