In September 2017, the Ministries of Culture and Economy in Latvia launched an updated design action plan called ‘Design of Latvia 2020’ building on the national design strategy first launched in 2013.
The Latvian Design Action Plan is underpinned by an analysis of the Design Ecosystem drawing on research conducted by PDR. Design Ecosystems constantly evolve but by mapping the stakeholders and performing a SWOT analysis the Latvian Government has developed a series of actions to enhance the supply of and demand for design.
The Latvian Government has recognised the strategic value of design and how it can be applied to economic development, social welfare, cultural identity, environmental sustainability and the image of the state. The strategy has adopted a broad definition of design:
‘Design is a process of strategic development, an approach and a way of identifying and solving problems. Effective use of design refers to both the result, as well as the process, while emphasising the importance of design thinking in all levels of decision making and management.’
Innovation policy is based on an analysis of the Innovation Ecosystem and increasingly design policies are based on analyses of Design Ecosystems. PDR describes Design Ecosystems as:
‘a theoretical construct used by policy-makers and academics to examine the interplay between actors and initiatives in a country or region and how this can inform targeted policy action to stimulate the supply of and demand for design.’
Whicher, 2016 ‘Benchmarking Design for Innovation Policy in Europe’, PhD thesis.
The following model for a Design Ecosystem is being used by PDR in our European project, Design4Innovation (funded by INTERREG Europe) to support the partners to develop Design Action Plans with their governments.
The Latvian Government has adapted this model of the Design Ecosystem for their needs. For Dzintra Purvia, one of the policy-makers in the Ministry of Culture behind the action plan:
“The Design Ecosystem is constantly evolving and changing. Using PDR’s Design Ecosystem model as the basis we were able to map and acknowledge all the players involved in the Latvian Design Ecosystem. We then performed a SWOT analysis and were able to diagnose the problems and identify possible directions for actions.”
There is a major opportunity for Latvia to lead on the design policy agenda in Europe by implementing its ambitions and evaluating the impact. Crucially, the Latvian State can lead by example in embracing design approaches to involve citizens in decision-making.