Societal challenges

The major societal challenges are defined in the European research program Horizon 2020 in eight themes, the Grand Societal Challenges. The creative industry looks at the societal challenges from a specific angle: through a lens of sector- inherent added value. For instance, when looking at the Energy and CO2 issue, the creative industry can primarily contribute in areas that concern behavior: how can the consumer be spurred into more energy-efficient behavior? With regard to this challenge, we therefore focus on the more specific angle of Energy & Behavior in this KIA. The other societal challenges on this agenda came about in a similar fashion.

The challenges were selected this way because the creative industry has already proved itself or sees new possibilities to create impact in relation to these challenges. Furthermore, the selection is inspired by and ties in with a large number of routes from the National Science Agenda (NWA).


The creative industry’s lens on the societal challenges gives it focus, also in relation to relevant routes from the National Science Agenda (NWA). Additionally, it offers starting points for challenges on the agendas of specific departments, within the Dutch government, for example.

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The Challenges

a. Circular Society
The circular economy is an economic system meant to maximize re-use of products and resources and to minimize value destruction. An important strategy in this context is the transition from possession to use. How can systems advance this transition? And how can we develop new circular propositions that help accelerate the transition?

b. Healthy Behavior
In recent years, the definition of health has shifted from a focus on illness to a focus on people and their ability to adapt and take control. How can smart systems assist them in this? How can we better utilize the positive effects of greenery on health and wellbeing in working and living environments (in cities)?

c. Resilience in Society
In a constantly changing environment it’s important that individuals and society as a whole are and remain resilient. Sustainable employability of people is seen as an important element of the resilient (inclusive) society. How can socio-technical systems contribute to the self-reliance of elderly, integration of people in society, and to participation in the job market? How do we foster social cohesion in a society that is burdened by polarization? How do design institutions and systems advance our wellbeing/happiness? The top sector creative industry views this theme as an important part of the central challenge of the Inclusive and Innovative Society.

d. Energy and Behavior
To reach the climate goals of the UN climate agreement, citizens, businesses and governments will have to change their approach to energy consumption. How can we spur them into more economical use of energy and fuels and/or into searching for clean(er) alternatives? The transition to renewable energy is leading to a change in the role of the (energy)consumer that is more conscious and thus actively chooses for energy use. In addition, the energy sector will have to find new ways to involve consumers.

e. Quality of Life & Well-being
We are increasingly aware that, in the long term, our unbridled consumption doesn’t automatically lead to more well-being. Furthermore, our way of life is under physical and psychological pressure due to the demands of our work and environment. How can we develop products and services that actually, in the long term, contribute to happiness and quality of life? What role can big data play in the quality of life in health care, traffic and smart cities? How do we utilize systems to contribute to quality of life? What impact will this have on the habitat?

f. Trust & Security
The digital world comes alongside new questions about trust and security. How do we ensure that people keep faith in smart systems and how do we guarantee an acceptable level of security and privacy in a digital world?

g. Personal Experience
Society looks for balance between collectivity and individuality. Uniqueness is a great good and part of the achievements of the modern society, but has a downside that can negatively impact solidarity. It’s becoming increasingly easy to develop custom-made products and services, but what will be their impact on sustainability? How do we create products and services that meet the need for a personalized offer? How can we create value for the end user through digitalization and information in production, content creation and design?

h. Human Empowerment
Due to complex developments, many citizens have gotten the feeling that they hardly have any control over their personal living conditions. How can we empower people to be able to take care of themselves again? What does the past teach us about this and how may that contribute to new insights?