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ABOUT o2 mission and origins

our mission

Inspire, inform, Connect and Act together for impact!

Designers are a brave and big-hearted bunch. We are compassionate, intuitive, visionary, and empathetic solution-seekers. We are not linear thinkers. We see the world not as a machine with individual, separate parts, but as a network of interrelated patterns and relationships that form the whole. Design is an inherently collaborative process and we recognize the diversity of actors required to turn an idea into a product or service. 


Taking on the world's extractive and polluting economies since the 1980s, to drive sustainability forward, has been no simple task. It has called for clarity of vision and tenacity.


Now, sustainability is not enough. We need to actually restore, return more than we take out, repair the damage, and regenerate the systems that sustain us.


Given our affinity for challenges, we are well-equipped now to take on the enormous existential ones - and we are stepping up to the mark. The good news is that many of the world economies are now aware of the urgent need to act. Some are already on board as partners rather than opponents, yet lack the knowledge or skills to turn intentions, promises, global goals and compacts into action.

We have the tools that are needed and this is our common mission.


We take risks. We learn by doing. We inspire industry, governments and society to recognize that good design brings healthy business, healthy communities, and healthy ecosystems. 


We share our knowledge, stories and experience with others. We act as mentors. Mentoring has been an important part of the o2 mission from the start. We have all benefited from the wisdom of those who have preceded us. We are continuing this commitment to pass experience on and are equally open to learning from the next generations of designers. We take on challenging issues and share information and insights in respectful, non-polarizing dialogue. The most powerful antidote to greenwashing is clear, transparent, objective information. 


We reach out to others in our networks and in the broader design community - seasoned designers, students, and new professionals. We step out of our comfortable areas of expertise and connect across disciplines.  


Change does not occur in isolation. Brilliant visions and a wealth of knowledge are not enough. Change happens through relationships - through exchange and collaboration among diverse actors - through collective actions. Despite the weight of our times, creativity comes through play and there is always room for fun!

o2 members

The o2 Global Network comprises o2 Liaisons, o2 Regional Hubs, o2 Local Groups, and individual o2 members (o2s), representing more than 50 countries. Each o2 group is self-governed and operates independently in its own region, yet is linked to the global network through the

o2 Global Network Foundation.

Members are active in academia, industry, and the nonprofit sector. We are students, professors, researchers, writers and practitioners in the fields of architecture, industrial design, engineering, graphic design, digital design, art and fashion.


We are pioneers and new visionaries, all committed to sharing knowledge & expertise, collaborating, and designing viable solutions for many of the world's wicked social and environmental problems.

Here are just a few of the o2 founding members, liaisons and chairs from around the world.

Whether you are an existing or previous o2 member, or a designer seeking to connect with others and realize your vision, we welcome you to register below and join the Global Network. 

o2 our history

o2 founded in 1988

A sustainable design timeline over 30 years in the making!


  • Milano 1988 - founders met in a café after Salone del Mobile fair.

  • Copenhagen - first o2 conference

  • o2 Denmark & 02 France formed

  • Ikea Foundation prize


  • Milano - “Neolite recycled plastic“ 

  • o2 Japan & others - Seibu department store “Sustainable images of the future”

  • o2 NYC formed

  • website (version 1) created by o2 Netherlands & Netherlands Design Institute

  • o2 international event “Sustainable lifestyles” by o2 Netherlands ​

  • Tennendesign, Kyoto

  • o2 Netherlands - European Designer of the Year

  • Copenhagen - “The next step”

  • Rotterdam, Van Nelle factory - “Sustainable business concepts” 

  • o2 Yahoo group formed

  • o2 Global Network Foundation founded ( transferred to the foundation)



  • o2 Finland, o2 USA hub, etc.

  • website (version 2) redesigned as platform for groups to post news

  • o2 NYC - Assignment: Green - A Survey of Eco-design Education in NY

  • o2 Global Network international meeting, Farnham, UK.

  • o2 Australia, Asia and South America

  • 20th Anniversary System Reload events in Milano and London

  • o2 Global Network LinkedIn group formed

  • 30th Anniversary Event at Dutch Design Week

  • and Circular Innovation event

  • (version 3) redesign and relaunch prior to COP26 in Glasgow. 

  • Green Maps and o2 global network members at COP26.

For a fantastic historical account of o2 read:
A  B L A S T  O F  F R E S H  A I R : T H E  H I S T O R Y  O F  o 2 

By Barbara Kiser

Glocalise! think global - act local

While the o2 Global Network has grown globally, its strength and impact continues to be rooted in the local and regional groups, each adopting the essence and values of o2 and applying them to regionally and culturally specific projects and solutions.  


As with all living systems, it is the open, heterogenous and non-hierarchical nature of the o2 Global Network that has provided the conditions for these diverse, self-organizing communities to form and grow. And, as in nature, diversity leads to innovation, adaptation, collaboration, resilience, and emergence.

Below, a sample of the many o2 Global Network websites built by members around the world:

We are constantly expanding our collection of o2 memorabilia, please send

anything interesting you may have to info [at] o2 dot org.

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