ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network working with more than 2,500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development.


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ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network working with more than 2,500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development.

ICLEI Regional Secretariats and country offices

SONNET – SOCIAL INNOVATION IN ENERGY TRANSITIONS: Co-creating a rich understanding of the diversity, processes, contributions, success and future potentials of social innovation in the energy sector

What we did

SONNET aims to create an inter- and transdisciplinary understanding of the diversity and processes of social innovations in the energy sector (SIE). It assesses the success, contributions and future potentials of SIE towards sustainable energy transitions in Europe. SONNET investigates how, to what extent and under which enabling conditions diverse types of SIE may result in new breakthroughs or successfully help to overcome transition barriers; such as limited citizen engagement or slow adoption of new technologies. SONNET’s empirical research is informed by a novel conceptual framework combining insights from sustainability transitions, energy studies and social innovation literatures. It bridges qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches in an innovative research design. Across 30 qualitative in-depth case studies situated in six European countries, SONNET investigates the diversity, processes, success and contributions of SIE. Given its focus on urban areas as major hubs for SIE, SONNET conducts six transdisciplinary SIE city labs to experiment with new forms of SIE and learn about how multiple actors can harness the potential of SIE. In addition, based on three large-scale representative citizen surveys, SONNET assesses the future potential of SIE and develops new business and service models. SONNET synthesizes its findings in an integrated knowledge framework for a socio-economic, socio-cultural (incl. gender) and socio-political understanding of enabling and impeding conditions for SIE and SIE contributions when working towards accelerating sustainable energy transitions in Europe. Through a cutting edge co-creation and dissemination strategy, SONNET ensures that its practical recommendations, tools and capacity building activities have a maximum impact on its key stakeholders such as citizens, SIE actors, policy makers, and business.

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What we achieved

ICLEI Europes task within this activity is to validate, enrich and share SONNET results, maximising their exploitation and impact, drawing upon a well-designed knowledge brokerage and co-creation process within and beyond the project. It implements cutting edge dissemination processes to maximize SONNET’s impact by engaging a variety of key stakeholders at local, regional, national and European levels, drawing on insights derived from the different workpackages. SONNET utilizes multiple channels and formats (incl. social media, regional workshops, briefs for practitioners, infographics, videos) to disseminate its findings to all relevant stakeholders. Specific objectives of ICLEI Europe are: - Coordination of the co-creation and dissemination process - Translating SONNET’s results into actionable recommendations for policy makers - Development and dissemination of novel and cutting-edge scientific knowledge

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Bristol City Council, Canton of Basel-Stadt, City of Antwerp, City of Grenoble, City of Warsaw, Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (drift), Ecole de Management Grenoble, Fraunhofer Institut, Kozminski University, University of Sussex, Zurich University of Applied Sciences,

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