Fab Labs and SDGs

How to Align Your Fab Lab / Makerspace With the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

This workshop format helps staff and volunteers of fab labs / makerspaces / innovation centers to align their organizations with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With some changes it could be applied to any community organization.

The workshop format is a spin-off of the Workshop: Fab Labs and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); FAB14 – 14th Annual International Fab Lab Conference Toulouse, France, 16-22 July 2018.

Authors: Pieter van der Hijden (The Netherlands & Suriname) plus global team: Enrico Bassi (Italy), Vaneza Caycho Ñuflo (Peru), Neville Govender (South Africa), Arundhati Jadhav (India), Yogesh Kulkarni (India), Noksy Letsoalo (South Africa), Jean-Baptiste Natali (New Zealand), Wendy Neale (New Zealand).

Where to find?

Fab labs?

Fab labs and makerspaces are places with computers, software, tools, digital fabricating machines and all kinds of materials where the general public, youngsters, students, hobbyists, inventors and technopreneurs can make (almost) anything. You find them all over the world. The Fab Lab (FABrication LABoratory) concept was developed by Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Fab Foundation supports the global fab community, a.k.a. the Fab Lab Network.


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, in fact a social economic agenda for all countries for 2016-2030. See also the United Nations website on Sustainable Development Goals; versions in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish; further countries have dedicated websites on SDGs in other languages.

Why does it make sense to align your fab lab activities with the SDGs?

  • To clarify to yourself, to your peer labs and to the outside world your “SDG-profile” and thus the interest, expertise and potential social impact of your lab;
  • To focus your activities on making a useful contribution to achieving some SDGs;
  • To reveal hitherto unknown options for cooperation and exchange between fab labs by having an insight in the “SDG-profiles” of all fab labs;
  • To expose to the world the potential of the fab lab network, its coverage of topics and its presence on the ground in almost every country.

Why a workshop?

A fab lab manager could prepare her fab labs SDG Profile on her own. However, that would be a missed opportunity to bring staff and volunteers together to talk and share, not about their daily affairs but about their ultimate social impact. In a single session of 2-4 hours you can involve staff and volunteers in the process. You give them information and you receive valuable inputs from their daily operations. Together you forge the profile that best fits your lab.

To continue, see the Manual for the Fab Lab Manager at http://bit.ly/fab14-sdgs-fablabmanager.

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