Whilst integrated and systems based approaches are now accepted at policy and strategy level, for those of us tasked with delivery of programmes, the complexity involved can make it hard to act upon at a practical level. Rallying behind a single issue with a simple strapline and linear progress monitoring is so much easier.
So what can be done? How can we tackle enormous issues like climate change and poverty, whilst still feeling that our small investments are essential and making a useful difference? Having understood these connections exist, the important thing is not to use this complexity as an excuse for inaction.
There’s no single answer, but from years of experience developing integrated Climate+Care programmes, designed from the outset to deliver against multiple social and environmental goals, here are a few ideas that might help:
- Focus on goals rather than interventions. What is it you want to achieve? Is it about supporting entrepreneurs, empowering women, creating new opportunities for school children? Focussing on the end goal will not only help you invest your money ways that will deliver maximum positive outcome, it will help you explain your actions in a simple way, despite taking complex decisions to get there.
- Don’t act in isolation. What do others in your organisations want to achieve? Pulling together environmental, social development and business goals can help focus activity and pool budgets allowing more effective action. Think beyond your own organisation to how you can scale by working with your supply chain, your staff, your customers and even your competitors.
- Identify the skill, expertise, knowledge and drive within your organisation and use this to steer your actions. For example if your skills lie in distribution, how can you engage your colleagues and unlock your logistics expertise to deliver sustainable development and environmental goals?
- Pick activities that are core to your business. If you are a soap manufacturer, supporting safe water and hand washing programmes in emerging countries will make more sense to your staff and your customers than investing in solar power. If you are a light bulb manufacturer, the opposite is true.
- Measure, report and adjust. Being able to explain the difference you have made, is key to continuing support. Even more important is using this data to inform your decision making, changing course if necessary to ensure money is spent wisely to deliver positive impacts for people and the environment.
Naomi Hicks is ClimateCare’s Senior Programme and Partnerships Manager. Naomi works with national and international corporates alike to devise and oversee business relevant corporate social responsibility and social impact programmes, which deliver measurable social and environmental outcomes to meet both CSR and sustainability agendas, whilst also delivering business value.
Image caption: Climate Resilience Lab
Image credit: Pop Tech / Flickr