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Innovation Potential of Community-Based Sustainability Initiatives - Results from TESS

TESS (Towards European Societal Sustainability) is a European research project exploring the role of community-based initiatives (CBIs) in creating a sustainable, low-carbon Europe.

The project is grounded in a diversity of disciplines, analytical approaches and methods. It brings together natural and social scientists, employs qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and develops tools for understanding the environmental, social, political, economic and innovation impacts of CBIs in the field of sustainability. In this project CBIs are defined as initiatives aiming to serve the environmental and social sustainability needs and interests of (mostly) place-based communities. They may operate for profit or not. The results presented in this brief draw from a survey of 63 such CBIs in Finland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Scotland, and Spain.

These initiatives work in a wide range of sectors: producing and distributing organic food, recuperating food waste, recycling and reusing materials, promoting sustainable transportation, generating and distributing renewable energy and establishing adequate administrative frameworks or infrastructure in their surroundings.

This short report examines Community-based sustainability initiatives, how they can innovate and what they might look like in the future.