Today I’ll be moderating a panel on scaling community conservation solutions at the World Wildlife Fund’s AnnualKathryn Fuller Symposium. This panel – featuring Dr. Jamie Bechtel from New Course, Jeremy Heimans from Purpose, and Sheri Flies from Costco Wholesale – will address one of the most difficult challenges facing change agents everywhere: how to scale up the impact of promising solutions developed in one location or context, and in time, apply them to address some of our most pressing problems, like climate change or the global fisheries crisis.
Those of us in the social change and environment sector often talk about scale in mythical terms (it is the holy grail, after all!), and we’ve already identified some of the building blocks for effective scaling efforts. Encouraging stories across the globe share much in common: whether it’s local management of marine areas in the Pacific supported by the Locally Managed Marine Areas Network, or the empowerment of slum dwellers to access urban services and protect their rights supported by Slum Dwellers International, successful innovations have tapped into pressing community needs and discovered approaches that empower communities and create opportunities to improve incomes, security or dignity.
But this isn’t enough. Besides the indispensable mix of experimentation, patience and boldness that defines this work, successful scaling efforts often share additional defining characteristics:
- They benefit from or create enabling environments.
These often include favorable policy changes, political champions, and vocal constituencies, as well as new funding opportunities.
- They leverage organizing platforms that enable impact to spread.
Nimble networks can bring together peers to learn from each other, improve practices over time, and project a common voice; selective partnerships with businesses or governments can bring in distinctive capabilities and resources to achieve common interests.
- They take advantage of pre-existing global movements.
Wide-scale attention and participation are often a powerful catalyst for spreading action and impact.
We’ll hear more solutions – and some powerful stories – from today’s panelists as we further dissect the issue of achieving scale.