Quality Principle 3. Sustainable Change

Development and humanitarian responses contribute to the realisation of sustainable development.

Rationale

Quality Principle 3 recognises the importance of durable and lasting development change including environmental sustainability. It introduces new Commitments relating to sustainability (Commitment 3.1) and systemic change (Commitment 3.2). These Commitments have been introduced in response to global recognition of the role of sustainable development in addressing poverty and inequity, as expressed through the Sustainable Development Goals. The associated Compliance Indicators in the Code have accommodated feedback from Members that requested particular emphasis on identifying and working with appropriate local systems, structures and agents of change. This represents our sector’s own evolution in its approaches to achieving sustainable change.

The Commitment that relates to environmental stewardship and sustainability (Commitment 3.3) expands the focus from understanding and reducing negative environmental impacts to also promoting environmental sustainability and improved environmental outcomes. This responds to the sector’s increased recognition of the linkages between the environment and sustainable development and in particular the focus within the sector on the need to address climate change. 

Quality Principle 3 is implemented through three Commitments by ACFID Members.

Commitments

Commitment 3.1 We seek durable and lasting improvements in the circumstances and capacities of primary stakeholders.

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided. 

3.1.1 Members design initiatives in response to the root causes of poverty and inequity.

Verifier

Design or planning framework, tools, templates which require, or approaches which consistently show analyses of the causes of poverty and inequity.    

Guidance

Your approaches could include: an investment of time and resources into deep contextual analysis prior to designing an initiative; seeking the perspectives and experiences of primary stakeholders directly impacted by poverty or inequality; creating initiative designs which respond holistically to a range of structural, social, cultural or other causes of poverty or inequality.

Your design or planning framework, tools and templates could include: explicit sub sections or prompts in the design document template relating to causes of poverty and inequality; a design appraisal tool or set of criteria that includes an assessment of the adequacy of contextual analysis and whether the design or theory of change addresses the causes of poverty or inequality.    

3.1.2 Members identify and influence local organisations and/or primary stakeholders to enhance and promote their own development.

Verifier

Design or planning framework, tools, templates which require or approaches which consistently show the identification of local organisations and/or primary stakeholders and strategies to influence them.

Guidance

Your approaches could include: undertaking good contextual and stakeholder analysis so you can identify the key local organisations and stakeholders and the relationships between them that contribute to or can break down poverty and inequality; vulnerability, risk and capacity for each stakeholder group; identification of key groups marginalised through vulnerability; investing resources in and creating opportunities for local organisations and/or primary stakeholders to discuss and agree on their own priorities for development; create opportunities for local organisations and/or primary stakeholders to fully contribute to the design and planning of initiatives that affect them.

Your design or planning framework, tools and templates could include: explicit sub sections or prompts in the design document template; a design appraisal tool or set of criteria that includes an assessment of the adequacy of contextual analysis, the role of local organisations and/or primary stakeholders in contextual and stakeholder analysis and the degree to which local organisations and/or primary stakeholders have fully contributed to the design and planning of initiatives that affect them. 

3.1.3 Members support local partners to develop their capacity to influence their own development.

Verifier

Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of capacity building.

Guidance

Your initiatives could include: jointly identifying with local partners their own priorities for development, their existing strengths and capacity gaps, and jointly developing actions and providing resources to build capacity through, for example, formal training or academic courses, mentoring, exchange visits, the provision of educational or organisational resources.

Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • Training on the principles of sustainable development is provided to key personnel and partners. 
  • The extent to which initiatives lead to durable and lasting change is evaluated.
  • Commitment to durable and lasting improvements is promoted to the public and external stakeholders.

GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES 

Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time. 

Context Analysis

  • Develop a full understanding of the program’s context including the impact of national and community-level political, social, economic, cultural and environmental factors, as well as the enablers and the barriers to social change
  • Seek the perspectives and experiences of primary stakeholders directly impacted by poverty or inequality
  • Carry out an analysis of the key relationships that will impact the project, how that impact will occur, and how those groups or people can be positively engaged
  • Train staff in how to carry out power analyses as a basic step in the preparation of any development activity
  • Periodically review the context as it changes over time as part of regular monitoring activities and reflect any changes by adapting project plans and approaches.

Stakeholder Analysis

  • Ensure program guidelines explicitly outline the importance of identifying the needs and expectations of all key stakeholders, including potential differences in interests and points of view.
  • Use stakeholder analysis tools in project design so that you can identify: the key local organisations and stakeholders and the relationships between them that contribute to or can break down poverty and inequality; vulnerability, risk and capacity for each stakeholder group.
  • Identify key groups marginalised through vulnerability.
  • Conduct research to identify the enabling factors and barriers for participation of local people.
  • Invest resources in and create opportunities for local organisations and/or primary stakeholders to discuss and agree on their own priorities for development and to fully contribute to the design and planning of initiatives that affect them.
  • Assess the level to which primary stakeholders have been involved in the initial planning of the program and the level of consultation and engagement with various community groups and the local government

Capacity Building Approaches

  • Invest time and resources in your partners’ broader mandate and strategy and capacity beyond specific projects considering for example non-project grants for training, systems development, etc.
  • Host staff secondments from and between partner organisations.
  • Jointly identify with local partners their own priorities for development, their existing strengths and capacity gaps, and jointly develop actions and provide resources to build capacity through, for example, formal training or academic courses, mentoring, exchange visits, the provision of educational or organisational resources.

Resources

Commitment 3.2 We contribute to systemic change.

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided. 

3.2.1 Members build on and enhance the existing strengths and capacities of primary stakeholders.

Verifier

Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of capacity building initiatives in response to the priorities of primary stakeholders.

Guidance

Your initiatives could include: jointly identifying with primary stakeholders their existing strengths, risk/vulnerabilities and capacity gaps and their own priorities for capacity strengthening, and jointly developing actions and providing resources to build their capacity through for example, formal training or academic courses, mentoring, exchange visits, the provision of educational or functional resources.

3.2.2 Members work with local systems and structures such as institutions, civil society, community structures and authorities (where appropriate) to support and strengthen local people and systems.

Verifier

Development and humanitarian initiatives consistently show evidence of working with local systems and structures.

Guidance

Where possible and appropriate, it is preferable to work with local systems and structures rather than establishing new or parallel systems and structures which may not be sustainable or undermine existing systems and structures. Working with or mobilising government or other authorities can be an effective strategy towards sustainable and systemic change, but it may not always be appropriate or beneficial - this needs to be assessed for each context.

Your initiatives could include: supporting partners or your own agency to work with government ministries or departments at the national, provincial or local levels, working in alignment with or supporting the development of government policies, strategies or priorities, working with or supporting indigenous NGOs or civil society organisations, supporting established (but perhaps not fully functioning) community structures such as village development committees or farmers’ groups, working through or supporting local church structures (where appropriate to your organisation or the context). 

3.2.3 Members that undertake advocacy and/or campaigning, support initiatives that are evidence- based, accurate and reflect the perspectives of primary stakeholders.

Verifier

This indicator and verifiers are relevant only to Members which undertake advocacy and/or campaigning.

  • Policy, statement or guideline document that covers the following:
    • advocacy does not do harm or increase the level of risk facing affected groups;
    • advocacy is evidence-based and accurate;
    • advocacy messages reflect the perspectives of the affected population.
  • Design or planning framework, tools, templates or approaches which show evidence of the analysis of risks associated with advocacy initiatives, with a particular focus on the safety and rights of primary stakeholders. 

Guidance

Having a formal document which outlines your approaches to advocacy helps to establish your organisations commitment to responsible and effective advocacy practices and ensures a shared understanding amongst your staff and other stakeholders.

Your policy, statement or guidance document could include: an outline of the principles underpinning your organisations approaches to responsible and effective advocacy; an outline of the procedures or practices required to ensure the following: analysis of potential risks to primary stakeholders associated with an advocacy campaign; the importance of evidence based advocacy and how this evidence will be sought; and the methods to be used to seek the perspectives of primary stakeholders and (where appropriate and safe) how their voices will be enabled through the campaign.

Your design or planning framework, tools and templates could include: explicit sub sections or prompts in the design document template relating to analysis of the potential risks to primary stakeholders associated with an advocacy campaign, the evidence base informing the advocacy messages and how primary stakeholders perspectives have been sought and (where appropriate and safe) how their voices will be enabled through the campaign. 

Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • Diverse stakeholders groups are brought together to engage on change management processes
  • Collaboration with other organisations on intersecting issues is undertaken at national and international levels . 
  • Periodic reports are provided internally and to relevant primary stakeholders on the outcomes of advocacy work.
  • Activities are undertaken to strengthen the capacity of marginalized groups to participate in multi-stakeholder processes.

GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES 

Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time. 

Strengths Based Approach

  • Utilise tools and methodologies that identifies the existing strengths, abilities and assets of primary stakeholders. This is sometimes referred to as Asset Based Community Development or taking a ‘strengths-based approach’.
  • Use a wide range of community engagement tools to draw on as broad as representation of community members as possible to build a community vision and plan.
  • Support primary stakeholders to monitor their own progress in achieving their vision and plan.
  • Provide training to staff and partners on the difference between a needs based approach and a strengths based approach to development. 

Systems Approach

  • Recognise that most development challenges involve multiple stakeholders and processes that interact together in a system, and also impact on multiple systems.
  • Recognise that solutions to development challenges are usually multi disciplinary
  • Dedicate reasonable resources and expertise to understanding the systems that interact with a development challenge in order to identify the most appropriate and effective development intervention
  • Bring together stakeholders from a diverse range of environments to better understand development challenges
  • Collaborate with many different actors, across sectors and across all parts of the system.
  • Experiment with interventions on a small scale, and continue to adapt them in response to continuous learning and analysis. 

Organisational Approach to Advocacy

  • Create and document a policy that defines advocacy, sets out your organisation’s advocacy objectives, and outlines the principles that your organization will be bound by when undertaking advocacy.
  • Set performance targets at a strategic or organisational level related to advocacy and ensure progress against these targets is tracked overtime. This could be through the development of an Advocacy Plan that is reviewed on an annual basis.
  • Appoint a person within your organisation with expertise in advocacy.
  • Include an overview of the organisation’s approach to advocacy in the induction of all new staff
  • Document a toolkit and guidelines to support staff in undertaking advocacy.
  • Provide formal training for relevant staff on how to undertake advocacy effectively
  • Promote your advocacy activities on your website and in newsletters or similar
  • Monitor, review and report internally and externally on your advocacy achievements; this includes reporting of performance against key advocacy indicators

Advocacy Initiatives

  • Collaborate with organisations that focus on and have expertise in advocacy
  • Use rigorous research methodologies and processes to inform advocacy activities.
  • Consider confidential representation and diplomacy as a mechanism to persuading decision makers and opinion leaders to act in the interests of vulnerable people
  • Consider public forms of advocacy such as information and education campaigns.
  • Assess the potential for advocacy to bring your organisation into conflict with authorities, organisations or individuals and the consequences of this potential conflict on your organisation, your partners and primary stakeholders.
  • Undertake risk assessments to ensure they advocacy initiatives do not create undue risk to partners and other stakeholders
  • Where there is any risk of harm to primary stakeholders, ensure that those stakeholders are fully informed and consent to the advocacy activities and create mitigation strategies to protect primary stakeholders.
  • Support the active participation of partners and community members in planning, decision-making and undertaking advocacy activities where appropriate to do so
  • Assist partners to develop their own advocacy policies and plans

Resources

Commitment 3.3 We promote environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Compliance Indicators

Compliance with the Commitments will be assessed against the following Compliance Indicators. All of the applicable Compliance Indicators must be met by every ACFID Member to be considered compliant with the Code. Each of the Compliance Indicators has one or more compliance Verifiers. Verifiers are the description of evidence that is required to substantiate compliance with each Compliance Indicator. Guidance is also provided. 

3.3.1 Members demonstrate an organisational commitment to environmental sustainability and improved environmental outcomes in their development and humanitarian initiatives.

Verifiers

  • Policy, statement or guidance document committing the Member to promoting environmental sustainability and improved environmental outcomes in development and humanitarian initiatives.
  • Design or planning framework, tools, templates which require or approaches which consistently show evidence of the analysis of environmental risk and management.

Guidance

Your policy, statement or guidance document could include: an outline of the principles underpinning your organisation's approaches to mitigating negative impacts on the environment and promoting positive impacts in your partnerships and programs; and an outline of the procedures or practices required such as doing analysing the environmental risks and opportunities, environmental impact assessments or mainstreaming climate change adaption approaches as a cross cutting theme. The scope of this would likely be more comprehensive for organisations working in agriculture, water and sanitation or infrastructure construction and perhaps less comprehensive for organisation with a sole focus on education for example.

Your design or planning framework, tools and templates could include: explicit sub sections or prompts requiring analysis of environmental risk and opportunities; a design appraisal tool or set of criteria requiring an assessment of environmental risk and also identification of opportunities to promote positive environmental outcomes. 

3.3.2 Members demonstrate an organisational commitment to environmental sustainability and improved environmental outcomes in their organisation’s internal operations.

Verifier

Policy, statement or guidance document committing the Member to minimising the environmental impact of their organisation’s internal operations.

Guidance

Your policy, statement or guidance document could include: an outline of the principles underpinning your organisation's approaches to mitigating negative impacts on the environment within your domestic and international operations; and an outline of the procedures or practices required such as: paper recycling or limiting its use, switching off idle equipment and lights, avoiding paper products from native forests, avoiding bottled water, carefully planning transportation for field trips with consideration of CO2 emissions and using communication technologies and local capacity instead.

Good Practice Indicators

The following Good Practice Indicators describe a higher standard of practice than that set out in the Compliance Indicators. While Members do not need to meet the Good Practice Indicators to be considered compliant with the Code, they will self-assess against these indicators once every three years. This provides a clear pathway for Members to strengthen and improve practice over time.

  • A focal person with responsibility for environmental sustainability is in place.
  • Climate change mitigation, adaptation, and impact, and disaster risk reduction are incorporated into program strategies wherever possible.
  • Environmental sustainability and impact training is provided to key personnel and partners.
  • Periodic reports are provided internally and to relevant stakeholders on environmental sustainability and impact achievements.
  • Information about the impacts of climate change and environmental sustainability issues are promoted in public communications. 

GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES 

Good Practice Guidance

Here are some practical suggestions for your organisation to further deepen and improve practice over time. 

Organisational and policy

  • Create and document a policy on environmental sustainability and environment management which commits your organisations to minimise impact which relates specifically to the nature of your organisations work and partnerships. For example, organisations engaging in water and sanitation or natural resource management will require a more comprehensive policy than those only engaging solely in education. As an important policy, it should be ratified by the governing body and senior management.  Your organisation may also consider certifying this policy with ISO 14001.
  • Set performance targets at a strategic or organisational level related to minimising environmental impact in your domestic operations and in your aid and development activities. Ensure progress against these targets is tracked overtime. This could be through the development of an Environmental Action Plan that is reviewed on an annual basis.
  • Appoint a focal person within your organisation with accountability for monitoring the environmental impact of your aid and development activities.
  • Include an overview of the organisation’s commitments to evaluating and minimising environmental impact in the induction of all new staff
  • Document a toolkit and guidelines to support staff in implementing the organisation’s commitments to minimising environmental impact. Actions could include:
    • Paper recycling
    • Switching off idle equipment and lights
    • Avoiding paper products from native forests
    • Switching thermostats to more season-appropriate lower energy settings
    • Avoiding bottled water
    • Procurement policies that recognise sustainability objectives
    • Using energy management software for smart buildings
    • Using renewable power
    • Increasing awareness through posters, emails and internal staff newsletters
  • Provide formal training for relevant staff on environmental sustainability
  • Set performance targets to minimise environmental impact in your domestic operations and publicise them throughout your organisation. Targets could relate to:
    • The usage of material, energy and water
    • The energy saved due to conservation and efficiency improvements
    • Achievements in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
    • Progress in mitigating the environmental impacts of products and services
    • Transport
    • Biodiversity
    • Waste reduction
  • Include an overview of the organisation’s commitments to minimising and evaluating environmental impact during induction of new staff
  • Provide training and other awareness-raising initiatives for staff on environmental sustainability.
  • Publicise your commitment and your actions in your office and to your stakeholders on your website and in newsletters or similar
  • Monitor, review and report internally and externally on your environmental impact; this includes regular external reporting of performance against key environmental performance indicators
  • Appoint a focal person within your organisation responsible for monitoring and reporting environmental impact
  • Reward and incentivise relevant staff to monitor and reduce the organisation’s impact on the environment; include related targets in job descriptions and appraise staff against these annually.

Partners and external stakeholders

  • Collaborate with organisations that focus on and have expertise in environmental issues
  • Conduct screening of potential partner organisations to ensure they are committed to environmental performance and are not causing a negative environmental impact through their core business. (or incorporate environmental screening questions into an organisations corporate screening procedures to support the selection of partners committed to environmental sustainability)
  • Support the active participation of partners and community members in environmental governance and decision-making on natural resource management activities
  • Build awareness of the risks to the environment and environment management with partners and community members through training and discussion
  • Assist your partners to develop their own environment policies
  • Where relevant to aid and development activities, include explicit reference in partner agreements to expectations regarding the assessment of environment risk and impact, and ongoing monitoring of impact and mitigation strategies.

Programs

  • Undertake situational analyses including the assessment of risks to the environment. Use this to raise awareness with community members and project participants.
  • Include in project planning and design templates specific questions regarding the environmental impact of aid and development activities
  • Where there is a risk of environmental impact due to the nature of the aid and development activity, or where the location of the program has environment vulnerabilities, undertake an environment impact assessment and create mitigation strategies to inform project design
  • Assess new projects or concepts against criteria that includes risks to the environment and environmental impact
  • Include environmental impact indicators in project monitoring and evaluation
  • Using meetings, events and evaluations, reflect on how aid and development activities, partners and communities are supporting or impacting on the environment
  • Share reporting of performance against key environmental performance indicators with external stakeholders.
  • Plan transportation for field trips with consideration of CO2 emissions. Transport is an energy-intensive sector, accounting for approximately 23% of total global energy-related emissions.
  • Consider whether travel is necessary, and whether communication technologies and local capacity can be used instead.

Resources