A new think tank for stakeholder dialogues, the first of its kind in the world, opened recently in The Hague. The Wicked Problems Plaza (WPP) offers a dedicated space for people to bring their complex sustainability issues, to share and discuss novel insights and begin to develop entrepreneurial solutions with companies, researchers, professionals and investors.  The opening took place during the Grand Opening of the New World Campus, in which the WPP is located.

In this multifunctional space, participants are encouraged to behave in a way that addresses ‘wicked’ problems in a constructive sequence, and use their collective intelligence to bring critical elements in at the right time. The objective is to create real and sustainable solutions that are both pragmatic and idealistic.

“It’s a safe space” says Rob van Tulder, Professor of International Business-Society Management at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), and the driving force behind the creation of the WPP. “But it’s also a pressure cooker. When you have people from a large corporation that is struggling with human rights violations in its supply chain together in the same room with representatives of a human rights activist group, you have to lock the door. It might look like a paradox but you need to keep people in the box to make them to think outside of the box.”

The WPP even looks like a pressure cooker – windowless, round, and made of steel. Van Tulder cheerfully concedes that this is no accident. “The first session we ran in there, people were complaining that they were almost literally perspiring. They weren’t hot, just confronted by the intensity of the situation,” said Prof. van Tulder. He continues: “The WPP concepts are science-based. Moreover, the activities in the WPP will be part of a longer-term action research project on creating collaborative solutions to sustainable development problems in which the Partnerships Resource Centre at RSM will have a leading role.”

The Wicked Problems Plaza in The Hague is part of the New World Campus (NWC) and was officially opened on Friday 29 May. Four hundred people braved the wind and rain to explore the NWC, described by one guest, Marleen Brouwer, Adviser Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), as “a beautiful, sustainable building for the creation of beautiful, sustainable ideas.”

The ambition of the New World Campus is to stimulate co-operation and thus accelerate innovation by connecting a diverse range of actors both online and offline at the NWC.

Being one of the most sustainably renovated buildings in The Hague, the NWC provides a series of spaces and offices for organisations and individuals committed to sustainable solutions. This broad remit drew an eclectic crowd to the opening: a representative of The Hague’s government chatted with an artist who uses the energy generated by fish droppings to grow living art in aquatic environments, and a lobbyist for ethical media rubbed shoulders with the owner of a company that uses drones to locate poachers on the African savannah.

Marcel van der Klaauw, senior adviser to The Hague’s task force on forward-thinking investment, explained that this is exactly what the NWC is for. “We don’t want people to feel that [the campus] is only for people from this region. This is an investment in knowledge infrastructure and it belongs to all of us. It is for everybody committed to creating real solutions.”

More information

For more information about the Wicked Problems Plaza, see the WPP brochure. To book a space in the New World Campus or to arrange a session in the Wicked Problems Plaza, see the NWC website.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at harriford@rsm.nl.

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