Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation

The unbearable lightness of being right

The unbearable lightness of being right
31.05.2017 | Kaisa Matschoss

An expert is a person who know more and more about less and less, until she/he knows everything about nothing. Yes, been there and done that.

That’s why projects such as CASI are dramatically important. They make us know more and more about more and more, while at the same time ensuring that we never get it ’right’.

CASI has addressed citizens, stakeholders, policy makers, public organisations, businesses, civil society organisations, as well as research & education. Numerous types of sustainable innovation have been examined and a whopping 1566 critical issues have been identified. Hundreds of innovation initiatives, dozens of citizen visions and over one hundred policy briefs all showcase plural, competing rationalities. While this is fascinating and rich in terms of outcomes, its process is also often complex, sometimes frustrating and, most importantly, never leads to one ’right’ solution.

A more conventional approach would be to provide eloquent and focused answers, yet to questions which may never be posed. Experienced policy makers indeed desire tested, well-baked solutions which they can tune to their particular needs. This is the case because the world is complex, and one needs to accept that complex questions have multiple right answers.

In CASI, we have brought together many competing competences and knowledges, while still attempted to keep things sensible. Please feel free to check us out at there’s a framework for the assessment and management of sustainable innovation, mapped cases of many types of sustainable innovations, and experiences from involving stakeholders and citizens. They all provide both complementary and competing tools to make the future more sustainable.

Being ’right’ is simply too light for us.

Authored by Petteri Repo & Kaisa Matschoss


Photo credits: "World of soap" by Martin Fisch is licensed under


Relevant themes: Sustainable innovation, Raw materials, Resource efficiency, Environment, Climate action, Public participation
Relevant tags: expertise, engagement, plural rationalities, Sustainability


  • Kaisa Matschoss - Consumer Society Research Centre at the University of Helsinki

    Kaisa Matschoss

    My research is focused on energy questions from the point of view of the citizen and sustainability.

    In my work, I find motivation when considering research questions that aim at improving the living environment. I think that the biggest challenge of our time is the climate change and the adaptation to it as well as protecting biodiversity. That is why I want to study human behaviour and the structures of the society from the point of view of energy use in order to find new information so that we all have the possibility to make sustainable choices in our own actions.