Sustainability Puzzle

Involving the administration and political representatives

A tool for considering sustainability in all aspects of a project


The Sustainability Puzzle developed by Odense is a unique tool that helps to consider sustainability in all dimensions of a project, a work area, a plan, a campaign or a business. Through the puzzle it is possible to analyse all the components of a task or project and find out where and how to integrate sustainability.

  1. The puzzle
    The puzzle has pieces of three colours representing the social (orange), economic (blue) and environmental (green) fields of sustainability. Each piece proposes a sub-theme of one of the three dimensions (such as health, education, climate adaptation). The puzzle helps a group of people make sure that they have taken all sustainability fields into account in their project. Each piece/sub-theme is discussed by the group. First, it is discussed whether or not the topic is relevant. If so, the group discusses how
    to integrate it in the project. This way, the sustainability puzzle helps consider the task/project as a whole and generate ideas to make the solutions more sustainable
  2. The game
    Before the puzzle session, it’s important to get participants to focus on the wide sustainability term. It’s important to try thinking “out of the box” to come up with new ideas and new aspects that should be considered in the planning process of a project. It is also important to have representatives from various sectors, as they will add different perspectives to the case. The puzzle can be used at different stages of projects, but preferably early in the process. Otherwise some issues can be very difficult to integrate.

Odense uses this tool to ensure its sustainability efforts are reflected into the staff’s daily tasks. Employees in all five city departments work with the Sustainability Puzzle. The puzzle is an efficient tool to generate sustainability innovation. The tool can be used by employees of the municipality, or in a participatory process with citizens and other stakeholders in the city for a broader view in the planning process.


Staff working hours for holding sustainability workshops. The puzzle itself can be printed on paper or carton at low cost on any printer.