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This conference looked at why CSOs should work towards a more holistic and systemic transition to a sustainable society instead of pursuing the narrow technical policy focus of many of today's strategies. It then focused on the different existing areas of knowledge that can help CSOs to become more effective in the pursuit of the vision of the Great Transition.

The conference ended with the commitment from a number of organisations to take this work forward and create a Smart CSOs hub which would foster the development of a community of practice of CSO leaders, funders and researchers who are committed to become stronger change agents (and internal champions in their organisations) for the Great Transition. It would act with an external voice mainly in NGO/CSO/funders fora on effective CSO strategies for the Great Transition.


Key questions explored at the conference were:

  • What insights can help CSOs to understand much better how a socio-technical transition to a sustainable economy can happen?
  • What role do societal values play in social change towards a sustainable society and what can CSOs learn from cognitive science?
  • How can CSOs use bottom-up approaches to experiment and practice with the new economic models and un-lock policy processes?
  • What capacity building, knowledge transfer programmes and new research are needed to support CSOs in developing more effective strategies?
  •  How can we engage funders in CSO strategies towards systemic change and in new collaborative research that can strengthen the role CSOs play in the Great Transition?

The Smart CSOs Conference was the final conference of the Action Town project. Action Town was a FP7 project and kindly funded by the European Commission. Its official name is CSOContribution2SCP.


Downloadable documents


Conference attendees: 100 leaders and strategists from CSOs, researchers, academics and funders from more than 20 different countries. Click here for the full Smart CSOs Participant List
Conference programme: Click here for the Smart CSOs Conference Agenda.

Conference report: This document captures a summary of the discussions at the conference and the outcomes. Click here for the Smart CSOs Conference Report.

Smart CSOs Conference Videos


Smart CSOs Conference - Time to rethink CSO strategies


Maja Göpel Speech


Tim Kasser Speech


David Fell Speech


Smart CSOs Conference - Impressions



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