Sustainable technologies emerge in niches at the margins of mainstream technological systems. By looking at three examples: organic food; eco-housing; and wind energy, this project examined how social experiments with alternative technologies have attained wider influence. Analysis suggests policy could encourage a diversity of sustainable niches whilst placing mainstream technological systems under concerted pressure to become more sustainable. Importantly, policy must support encounters between problematic systems and niche solutions, and assist the translation of ideas and practices between the very different situations in each.
The ‘Supporting and Harnessing Diversity? Experiments in Appropriate Technology’ project ran from January 2003 to June 2005, led by Adrian Smith at SPRU, University of Sussex.