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    Living labs in the context of the UN sustainable development goals: state of the art

    Leal Filho, Walter, Ozuyar, Pinar Gokcin, Dinis, Maria Alzira Pimenta, Azul, Anabela Marisa, Alvarez, María Garcia, da Silva Neiva, Samara, Salvia, Amanda Lange, Borsari, Bruno, Danila, Andreea and Vasconcelos, Claudio Ruy (2023) Living labs in the context of the UN sustainable development goals: state of the art. Sustainability Science, 18 (3). pp. 1163-1179. ISSN 1862-4065

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    This paper reports on a comprehensive study, which has investigated the approaches, methods and tools being deployed in implementing living labs among higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world. Two methods were employed. First, a bibliometric analysis of the current emphasis given to living labs in a sustainable development context and in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Second, an empirical study aimed at identifying the use levels of living labs at HEIs. This was accomplished through an analysis of selected case studies that showcased successful approaches to SDGs implementation with living labs, and resulted in a framework for action. There are three main findings from these analyses. The first is that the multidisciplinary character of living labs in the context of sustainable development needs to be considered, to maximize their impacts. Second, most of the studied living labs focus on SDGs 4 and 11, which deal with providing quality education and ensuring the sustainable development of cities and communities. Third, the challenges encountered in the implementation of living labs refer to (1) the complexities in institutional administration, (2) the tensions between different groups of interest that need to be addressed by enhanced communication, and (3) the necessity to pay attention to the demand of using sustainability and innovation as a strategy in the operations of living labs. The paper draws from the experiences and lessons learned and suggests specific measures, which will improve the use of living labs as more systemic tools towards the implementation of the SDGs.

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