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The majority of urban residents breathing poor-quality air, having limited access to transport, and open public spaces. We realized that urgent action is needed to reverse the current situation because urban growth has profound repercussions for sustainability.
This blog is an extraction on the conversational webinar series, "All About Outcomes." Eddie Lorin and Sashwin Pillai represented developed, and emerging markets, and together touched on some of the challenges in achieving SDG 11, sustainable cities and communities, and impact measurement and management. The UN has defined 10 Targets and 15 Indicators for SDG 11.
Eddie Lorin is a founder of Strategic Realty Holdings, Alliant Strategic Investment Funds, and HAPI Foundation. By investing in the neglected rental properties, they "add value" through many improvements that have a direct and positive impact on families and communities.
Sashwin Pillai is a founder of Africa Vision Holdings. Africa Vision is committed to producing buildings of excellent quality that respond to the Built Environment, socially and economically, with innovative and functional design solutions.
Challenges in developed and developing countries may seem different but add to the same issues the world is facing today incorporated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Image credit: Community Development Investment Matter. From The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (2017).
What is community development? Community is made up of many institutions such as community centers, health care clinics, affordable housing, childcare, and parks, etc. How can cities continue to thrive and grow while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty?
When you hear the term Community Development, what do you see? There are efforts across the board to fix up the rundown neighborhood, building community centers, affordable housings, some local economy stores, etc. Today, Community Development is more than that. It is inclusiveness, safety, and resiliency for higher impact. SDG 11 is all about sustainable cities and communities.
Image credit: SDG 11 Synthesis Report HLPF 2018
Cities are taking the lead to address global challenges today. More than 55 percent of the population lives in an urban area that is expected to rise to 66 percent by 2050 as per SDG 11 synthesis report.
The way we build new cities will be at the core of so much that matters, from climate change to economic vitality to our very well-being and sense of community. And how will that impact overall sustainability?
Image credit: SDG 11 Synthesis Report HLPF 2018
All that added the 3 billion people to the urban living will be consuming ~70% of energy, and emitting ~70% carbon. That is why sustainable development is only achievable by significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban space.
We loosely aligned the conversation with Impact Management Projects' five dimensions, What, Who, How Much, Contribution, and Risk. The Impact Management Project (IMP) is a forum for building global consensus on how to measure, manage, and report impact. The IMP Advisors are a diverse group of thoughtful organizations, whose guidance and funding make this industry effort possible.
"Sustainable development is achievable by significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban space." -Eddie Lorin
What, tells us what outcomes the enterprise is contributing to and how important the outcomes are to stakeholders. Programs aligned with the "What" dimension discussed in this conversation are,
"We have inherited an apartheid spatial planning regime. People are not living where jobs are but where they should be. How do we bring these two together is a challenge."-Sashwin Pillai
Who, tells us which stakeholders are experiencing the outcome and how underserved they were before the enterprise’s effect.
Specific to our webinar conversation,
USA: underserved residents, mostly single women with children ( the programs served by SRH and ASI), foundation investors and equity investors, governments, philanthropists
South Africa: underserved community, students of low-income families and disabilities, governments, investors
How Much, tells us how many stakeholders experienced the outcome, what degree of change they experienced, and how long they experienced the outcome.
Stakeholder feedback can tell us the depth, scale, and duration of this dimension. Asking stakeholders questions as follows can give us a good idea about the magnitude of the "How Much" dimension.
To what degree have you experienced this change? (How Much Depth)
How soon after you started living in this property did these changes happen? (How Much)
Have these changes been long-lasting? Close-ended (How Much - duration)
Aligning the need and how much impact has been delivered can identify the gap. In South Africa, there is a need for ~400,000 new beds for students by 2030. Currently, they are ineffectively transporting themselves by destroying the environment. Clearly, need is much larger than what has been delivered. We have to carefully align SDG 11 to SDG 17, where strong partnerships can achieve these goals.
Contribution, tells us whether an enterprise's and/or investor's efforts resulted in outcomes that were likely better than what would have occurred otherwise. Activities conducted by Strategic Realty Holdings, Alliant Strategic Investment Funds, HAPI Foundation, and Africa Vision Holdings have contributed to the solutions.
As there are many players in the field, it is not conclusive to see what would be the outcome if these enterprises not done what they did. To assess the contribution, organizations can use Market research, Evidence-based research, stakeholder feedback, or RCTs.
SDG11 is not a single standing issue; we need the contribution of many other organizations as the figure below. The SDG 11, sustainable cities, and communities connect many of the other SDGs. More than 50% of the targets that we have in other SDG kind of passes through or relates to SDG 11.
Image credit: SDG 11 synthesis report.
Eddie works by preserving thousands of affordable housings and building houses in naturally affordable areas. Eddie feels their contribution is considerable, but the need is more significant. HAPI Foundation is taking an active role in providing healthy habits education through after school programs. Africa Vision Holdings contributes by subscribing to an environmentally conscious ethos in its approach to building. Africa Vision possesses the highest obtainable BBBEE, and they are Promoting BBBEE ( Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) rating within the Built Environment Sector.
Risk, dimension help enterprises and investors assess and mitigate impact risks.
"I like to see a billionaire and a social grantee sitting on the same bus, taking the same pass to the same office block and also living in the same house!"-Sashwin Pillai, Africa Vision Holdings
For any community to continually improve, we must be able to credibly measure and quantify the impact of our efforts and listen to our stakeholders. People's participation is now thought by many to be a prerequisite for sustainable development. We seek quantitative and qualitative results, accountability and significant data insights so that we can assess what works and what doesn’t. This can enable us to scale our efforts and provide more value to our stakeholders.
(Report: Capital Plus Financial)
Impact Management Project suggests asking many questions to gauge the stakeholder sentiment. Few examples are,
According to the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, in 2016, 9 in 10 people living in urban areas still breathed poor quality air. Only 21 % of the population had proper access to open public spaces. Nearly 2 billion people do not have access to waste collection services, and 3 billion people lack access to controlled waste disposal facilities. People across the United States and other countries are beginning to realize that where we live, learn, work, and play makes a real difference in your health. Poorly managed urbanization creates a major threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Are we ready?
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Recently we got a chance to engage with Eddie Lorin and Sashwin Pillai to get some insights and their experiences in Community Development, you can check out our full-length webinar below
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This article was first published in next billion. Impact investors have long turned to the GIIN catalog of metrics (IRIS...Read full article