Wanting to increase multi-stakeholder partnering for the environment, the Department instigated a co-design process to consider new and better ways to collaborate across government, business and civil sectors. The process took place from late 2017 through to March 2018.
Co-design is different from consultation - it is the process of involving the end-user in the design of products or services. The process tracks through the phases of discovery, analysis and refinement to produce an outcome, in this case, a partnerships signal.
A Core Co-Design Group worked with us and guided the process. The Group comprised 14 representatives from peak bodies from a range of sectors and Department Executives. The group was formed to draw on the members’ broad personal knowledge and expertise, and the perspectives of their sectors. This group was instrumental in guiding the co-design process and moving toward a consensus on a signal design. We gratefully acknowledge their contribution.
- Andrew Petersen, Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia
- Alice Cope and Cate Harris, Global Compact Network Australia
- Helen Steel, Shared Value Project
- Peter Cochrane, Australian Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature
- Sabina Curatolo, Impact Investing Australia
- Amanda Martin and Esther Abram, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network
- Daniel Pediaditis, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation
- Louise Arkles, Ian Potter Foundation
- Victoria Marles, Trust For Nature
- Kate Andrews, NRM Regions Australia
- Adam Carlon, Department of Environment and Energy
- Katrina Maguire, Department of Environment and Energy
- Matthew Dadswell, Department of Environment and Energy
We started with 15 sector-based sessions with participants from business, philanthropy, not-for-profits, Indigenous groups, academia and government. These sessions were held in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Darwin. We explored the broad drivers, challenges and opportunities for partnering, and identified the value each sector brings to a partnership and what people want to see from government to encourage partnering. Overall we spoke to over 140 people from more than 100 organisations, gaining real insight on the partnering expertise and needs of each sector. The diagram below shows the stages of the co-design process.
Snapshot of the co-design process
Some of the key insights from the process were:
- Each sector and organisation brings a unique set of assets to the partnerships table. Whether it be data, analysis, networks and relationships, expertise or on-ground capabilities (to name a few) each sector and organisation has particular assets and expertise. In some cases there is real scope to think in new ways about the potential value of these assets to other sectors in helping to achieve environmental outcomes.
- Flexible collaboration is essential to address complex issues. There was broad agreement that no single group can tackle current environmental challenges alone. Examples of work across disciplines, sectors, jurisdictions and organisations to enhance positive environmental outcomes are highly valued.
- A clear focus on particular outcomes can encourage partnership opportunities because it provides certainty and allows everyone to work to the same goal from the outset. An outcomes-focused approach allows partners to deliver in the most effective and efficient way they can.
- There is a lot of interest in working together and there are great ideas for projects or areas to work on, but connecting to the right people in an effective way can be a barrier to partnering. High staff turnover can make enduring relationships between organisations difficult to maintain and there is a need for solutions to maintain corporate knowledge beyond specific relationships.
The outcomes of co-design
The Core Co-Design Group used the wealth of information contributed through the sessions to develop prototypes of approaches for better connecting potential partners and building capability for more multi-stakeholder partnering. The Core Co-Design Group tested these prototypes through cross-sector sessions to arrive at an exciting approach. It is ambitious and long-term and will need to be staged so we can learn from early efforts and refine things as we go.
The first phase, which we are now embarking on, focuses on communication – an initiating statement coupled with case studies to help drive an understanding of what is possible through partnering, brought together on this website with an invitation for potential partners to put forward their partnering ideas.
Following the co-design process, a small group of co-design members continued to provide advice and guidance to help development of this first phase. Thank you to Andrew Petersen, Victoria Marles, Kate Andrews, Cate Harris and Kylie Porter (who took over as Executive Director of GCNA part way through the process).
Over time, the aim is to generate flagship projects that show more partnering examples or new pilots, and for leaders in this area to act as partnering champions. The concept model also looks towards finding more interactive ways to allow for communication and connection between potential partners, driving more partnering activity and building an evidence base for success.
We are starting with small actions, which we will build on over time, as increased evidence, support and momentum allows. Future phases may see a more refined digital partnerships platform and further development of a brokerage function to effectively match partners to catalyse environmental outcomes. The platform would include evidence, data and information resource for sectors and partners. Evolving the approach further could lead to development of an environmental co-investment fund, supported by an agency and board that would leverage investment for environmental outcomes, based on robust evidence of environment priorities.
About the scope of the co-design process
The co-design process that led to this statement focussed on partnering to bring together efforts across sectors to better manage natural capital. The environment and energy Sustainable Development Goals were an important framework in this process. While ‘energy’ was not a specific focus of the process, the Department of the Environment and Energy is interested in facilitating multi-stakeholder partnering across the scope of environment and energy issues, including where effective partnering can help achieve greater impact in areas like reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy affordability
Text version of infographic
The co-design process involved a number of phases:
- The Discovery phase focused on understanding experiences and perspectives. Information was gathered through sector-specific incubator sessions and Core Co-Design Group workshops. The outcome of this phase was an understanding of some of the drivers, values, boundaries, barriers, opportunities and risks in partnering.
- The process then moved to the Analysis phase which focused on analysing the information gathered in the Discovery phase and testing options. This was done through cross-sector incubator sessions and Core Co-Design Group workshops. The outcomes of this phase were identification of common barriers and issues, mutual interests and commonalities, the elements needed for a partnerships signal that will resonate, and pathways and approaches to partnership.
- Next the process moved into the Refinement phase, where we synthesised the analysis into a fit-for-purpose product through further Core Co-Design Group workshops. The outcome of this phase was an initial prototype of a partnerships signal, the form and content of which is to be determined through further discovery and analysis.