Speeding up sustainability with the Neerlands diep Sustainability Challenge


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The Neerlands diep Sustainability Challenge challenges professionals in the construction and infrastructure sector to speed up the sustainability of their projects. Participants work Rijkswaterstaat, ProRail, Rijksvastgoedbedrijf and the water boards, all large public infrastructure companies in the Netherlands. During the challenge, project teams try to make their projects even more sustainable. For example, they start a stakeholder analysis, enter in conversations with policymakers, managers and citizens and make a physical image of the desired future. They periodically reflect on each other’s preliminary results, enrich their insights with the knowledge and expertise of external inspirators and are offered tools and methods to apply to their projects.

After two editions, in 2019 and 2020, Neerlands diep was curious which lessons can be drawn from the experiences of participants. They asked Perspectivity to conduct a Sprockler research. As a LEF Facilitator, Elien Rogaar had already worked with Neerlands diep in facilitating one of the Sustainability Challenges.

Process
The research consisted of a few steps:

  1. First, we designed and tested the questions for the inquiry with a few alumni.
  2. Next, alumni of the challenges filled in the inquiries during an online meeting by interviewing each other about their experiences, insights and recommendations. It was also possible to fill in the inquiry online individually.
  3. The results are presented in an online interactive Sprockler report.
  4. In an online sense-making meeting, we reflected on the results with participating alumni. A summary of the discussion can be found here.

Results
The report serves as a source of inspiration for people working on sustainability challenges and their managers. It offers a view on how participants experienced the Challenges and what it has yielded for them.

In the report, you can see patterns of factors that contribute to the ambition of speeding up sustainability challenges in projects. For example, it turns out that speeding up sustainability challenges in the construction and infrastructure sector is more of an organizational challenge, rather than a technical one. The crux of speeding up is to involve higher management and get them on board. The patterns also show that the Challenges created more visibility for sustainability in the organization and that this ensured movement for sustainability issues. The Sprockler report also offers starting points for follow-up initiatives to continue to build on the sustainability movement. Such as continuing with the challenge and keeping up with inspiring enthusiastic alumni and facilitating the exchange of their experiences, success stories and disappointments.

The programme managers of of Neerlands diep were enthusiastic about the Sprockler method and have included the tool in a new project about programmatic learning in 2021.

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