Systems Change 

From climate change to poverty to healthcare, the large, complex social, environmental and economic problems we face today are too big for any one organisation to tackle alone. They require us to work together in new ways to address the root causes of problems and to create new outcomes that can change entire systems.

The failure of many of the systems that underpin modern life is increasingly difficult to avoid, so it's not surprising that interest in ‘systems innovation’ is growing fast.

I first came across systems thinking in 2007-2008 when I worked with WWF UK on their ‘One Planet Mobility Project’ (see below for a summary of the project). This was the beginning of my systems thinking journey. It took me several years to realise how crucial this project was in shifting many assumptions I had about how to bring about change for sustainability. It was an ambitious, complex and challenging project, which did not lead exactly to where we were hoping to! But it forced me to look at the big picture and acknowledge some of the limitations of traditional stakeholder engagement.

One of the best thing about this project was the opportunity to work with two leading systems changers: Anna Birney, now Head of Forum for the Future's System Innovation Lab, and Charlotte Millar, founder of the Finance Innovation Lab, who were both working for WWF UK at the time.

It was in 2014, while working with Forum for the Future on the Living North Sea Initiative (see more details below), that I realised I needed to seriously re-engage with systems change. The LINSI project was again an ambitious, complex and challenging initiative! It aimed to improve the health of the North Sea ecosystem and to develop a funding mechanism for sustainability plans, by exploring the potential opportunities provided by the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas infrastructure.

The questions and challenges raised by this project led me to embark on a 3 months systems thinking course with the Schumacher Institute at the end of 2015.

In my view we do not yet know how to change systems and it is an area where practice leads theory. So, if you have experience you'd like to share with me, please get in touch. These projects need many bright minds and together we stand a much better chance of changing our systems!





  • Forum for the Future

    Living North Sea Initiative
    August 2014 – Feb 2015

    Forum for the Future

    The Living North Sea Initiative (LiNSI) was a European multi-stakeholder collaborative project, which explored how to improve the health of the North Sea ecosystem.

    What happened
    As the Stakeholder engagement Lead for the UK, I designed the engagement strategy and developed the stakeholder mapping, which led to stakeholder interviews and meetings. The LiNSI programme came to an end in 2015, however Forum for the Future is now working to build on the work of the LiNSI programme, exploring opportunities to develop an NGO-led, multi-stakeholder programme to improve the health of the North Sea ecosystem and accelerate the transition to sustainable use.

    More details:

  • WWF-UK

    One Planet Business Personal Mobility


    To inspire and catalyze action towards systems change for personal mobility within one-planet limits. This dialogue sought to offer European businesses, policy makers, investors, consumer groups, and NGOs a forum to jointly understand issues of unsustainable consumption and production.

    What happened
    I managed this project in partnership with WWF-UK. I provided process design, facilitation and coordination of this European multi-stakeholder dialogue tackling systemic change for personal mobility. A report was produced which arose out of a series of six meetings between more than 30 European organisations from government, business and the community with an interest in all aspects of personal mobility. It outlined some of the suggestions, solutions, plans and partnerships that were developed through the One Planet Mobility programme.

    The report is available here: