2019 has been a roller coaster year for sustainable development. While we are celebrating several fresh perspectives and high profile commitments to global progress, we are also conscious of the mounting challenges ahead. In a recent op-ed, the UN Secretary-General wrote that while global extreme poverty and child mortality have fallen, “we are seriously off-track” toward achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. As noted in the same op-ed, “the private sector is critical to solving these problems.” At Resonance, we firmly agree.
Resonance was founded on the principle that market-led solutions are key to tackling the world’s social and environmental challenges. Since 2005 we have worked with companies, civil society, and governments to kickstart bold new partnerships, innovations, and business models that better meet the needs of consumers and communities.
Over the past year, Resonance staff have shared several stories about the progress our clients and partners are making. Below is a roundup of our best content from 2019. We hope these stories help provide context and insights for your work ahead.
Resonance’s Best Blogs of 2019
The power of partnership
Cross-sector partnerships can work synergistically to amplify the efforts of individual contributors. But launching a successful partnership is easier said than done. Government agencies and businesses often use different terminology and value different metrics. A USAID mission office may expect partners to align with in-country development priorities, while a Fortune 500 company may be looking for flexibility and a shorter timeline on returns.
This year we’ve explored several ways to overcome common collaboration hurdles:
Companies seeking to improve their sustainability can take steps to build the internal business case, which ensures buy-in from all relevant internal stakeholders. Companies entering new markets can familiarize themselves with inclusive business practices, a broader approach that helps assure success for companies as well as the countries in which they operate.
Development practitioners can study new, business-friendly tactics such as those needed to help scale small enterprise in frontier markets. With new cross-sector partnership opportunities unfolding, development professionals are also learning how to more successfully engage the private sector.
Many public and private organizations are looking to leverage finance mechanisms to scale impact. Stronger collaboration with development finance institutions, high net worth individuals, family offices, and other funders can help get us there.
Relationships, not transactions
The sustainability field is adapting to changing realities: climate change, hyperconnectivity, and a rising population are among the factors contributing to an increasingly complex global landscape. Thoughtful planning and co-creation are needed for teams and organizations to align on partnership opportunities and new solutions. And that’s just the beginning: when it comes to collaboration, alignment is the starting line to drive action.
Establishing trust and clarity between stakeholders is core to long-term success. Once the MOU is signed, teams will need to assess and adapt to each other. Stakeholders must negotiate shifting priorities and policies, as well as rapidly evolving technologies. For example, tools like blockchain offer promise, but may not always correspond with on-the-ground realities such as deep inequalities in the digital economy.
Great partnerships can, and do, exist
While careful execution is needed to ensure successful partnerships, the benefits can far outweigh the effort. When collaborators truly work together, great things can happen. Below are a few of the partnerships we’ve helped support this year, that are already yielding promising results:
Sustainable approaches to seafood production can reduce illegal and destructive fishing practices, while ensuring a critical food source for three billion people. In Southeast Asia, Resonance is working with Thai Union North America, Monterey Bay Aquarium, The Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative (ASIC), IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and others to develop and test the Partnership Assurance Model, a pragmatic and inclusive approach to scaling sustainable aquaculture.
Sustainable agriculture supply chains can help feed the world’s growing population, while also conserving and managing natural resources. In Egypt and India, Resonance is working with PepsiCo to scale sustainable farming practices and increase opportunity for smallholder potato farmers, with a focus on empowering female farmers.
Clear and enforceable land rights are key to ending extreme poverty and creating more peaceful and just societies. In Burkina Faso, Resonance trained National Land Observatory staff on USAID’s Mobile Applications to Secure Tenure (MAST) technology to help strengthen land tenure for smallholder farmers. As a result of the pilot, land holdings were mapped and documented roughly nine times faster than traditional mapping and surveying techniques.
Combatting high levels of youth unemployment is important to a country’s economic and social prosperity. In Kenya, Resonance worked with USAID and IBM, Syngenta, Twiga Foods, Orkistudio, Kenya Commercial Bank Foundation, and others to drive youth entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for thousands of 18- to 34-year-olds.
Behind every great collaboration, is a great team
As we reflect on the year, we commend those responsible for this year’s successes. Congratulations to PepsiCo’s Sustainable Agriculture team, who launched a global partnership with USAID; Thai Union’s Director of Sustainability Dr. Darian McBain, who won the Seafood Champion Award and 2019 Freedom Award; and to all of our clients focused each and every day on building a more sustainable future.
Our shared success wouldn’t be possible without our phenomenal team, whose hard work, creativity, and drive is reflected in every milestone. Perhaps our summer fellow, Zahraa Dagher, said it best: Resonators find that the best way to support our mission-driven vision, is with an action-driven attitude. (And we try to have some fun along the way.)
Finally, we’re celebrating the growth of our business. Over the past three years, Resonance has experienced employee and revenue growth of 180%. We’re thrilled to be featured in this month’s print edition of Inc. Magazine, as one of the U.S.’s fastest growing companies. Each year we are doing more to scale our approach and help our partners deliver greater impact.
As we look ahead, 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for sustainability and for Resonance. But we can’t do it alone. We look forward to working with existing and new clients to develop and scale sustainable, market-based solutions. In doing so, we can collectively achieve sustainable development goals and Resonance’s mission: Igniting Opportunity. Advancing Global Good.