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Does sustainability matter for makerspaces? The perceptions and practices of the French fablabs.

Wed, October 6, 9:40 to 11:10am EDT (9:40 to 11:10am EDT), 4S 2021 Virtual, 19


By means of personal fabrication, and the inherent community spirit, fablabs have great potential for; localization of production, reducing digital divide, ensuring social integration and develop sustainable urban projects as a building block of social innovation. Furthermore, being a manifestation of grassroots innovations movements, it is expected from the fablabs to seek alternative sustainable solutions.

This research focuses on fablabs located in France. How do French fablabs perceive social innovation and sustainability? How do they integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their agendas? How can their partners help them contribute to SDGs? What are the causalities behind the different perceptions and contributions for sustainability, their stakeholders, their dominant organizational identity, their principles, or their community? Which organisational practices do they put in place to contribute to SDGs?

To answer these questions, an online survey was distributed to French fablabs, and in-depth interviews were carried out on site. The UN SDG framework was used to analyse their sustainability contributions. Preliminary findings include: (1) French fablabs are aware of SDGs; (2) Most contribute to SDG12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”; (3) Most are non-profit organizations; (4) Most are very sensitive to sustainability issues (e.g. regarding repair, recycle and re-use processes), which makes them key contributors to SDGs.

There are very few studies about fablabs and their relationship with social innovation and sustainability in the scientific literature. This is the first research study on the French Fablabs, to understand their contribution to SDGs which would lead further research in developing countries on this subject.