Shifting sustainability focus from output to outcomes: Three examples from practice

A​t​ NewForesight​,​ we have been working strategically with sustainability frontrunners in many different sectors for almost a decade. We see sustainability thinking moving to new stages, we increasingly support our clients​ with the shift from ​output-focused approaches​​​​ to outcome-focused approaches (one of the three key trends that shape sustainability thinking, discussed in the blog post of our consultant Guus ter Haar), something that is supported strongly by our unique approach to market transformation.

The questions that rise mostly out of these recent developments are:

  • How ​can such a framework be implement​ed​ effectively?
  • W​hat does it mean to put outcome-focused efforts in practice both ​at ​the strategic and operational levels?

Below we share some of the highlights of our experience to answer these questions with our clients.

  1. Taking global priorities to local relevance with one of our corporate clients

For industry players, investments are now more than ever expected to bring returns in tangible, structural impact. Working towards their sustainability and risk management goals, certification and farmer training initiatives are no longer seen as enough and companies are restructuring their sustainability approaches beyond certification.

One of our corporate clients, a front runner in coffee sustainability, has taken the first steps in establishing an approach for advancing the development of sustainable coffee producing regions. Through alignment with global and national platforms, they are effectively translating global goals to local priorities. This approach, which we have designed with them, is the first of its kind in coffee, and focuses on co-creation with local stakeholders, working to strengthen local capacity and initiatives to create lasting impact.

  1. Working towards outcome-based standards together with ISEAL

Standards are recognized globally for catalyzing improvements and operationalizing sustainability, but are also pressured to rapidly adapt their systems in order to improve sustainability performance, become more efficient and deliver more value for users throughout the supply chain.

The ISEAL Alliance, the global association for sustainability standards systems, works to strengthen sustainability standards’ systems for the benefit of people and the environment. Now that a significant number of standard-setting organizations are undergoing a standard revision, many are exploring ways to design their standards to better achieve the sustainability outcomes of their system.

To support ISEAL in providing guidance to their members in this process, NewForesight delivers the insights into the system-level implications and key considerations for ‘outcome-based’ standards, both at the design as the operational level. Later this year ISEAL and NewForesight will publish a report for ISEAL members on those implications.

  1. Development of an outcome-focused international KPI framework for The International Cocoa Organization

Platforms are more and more expected to go beyond facilitation, driving real progress and delivering results. The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) is a global organization, composed of both cocoa producing and cocoa consuming member countries and has set up of The Global Cocoa Agenda (GCA) in 2012. The GCA functions as a roadmap for the global cocoa economy and it is the most comprehensive definition of ‘shared responsibility’ for sustainable cocoa production globally to date. The GCA outlines roles, responsibilities and actions for all major stakeholder groups involved in a sustainable cocoa sector and sets a systematic and strategic approach to promote the production, trade, processing and consumption of sustainable cocoa.

In order to properly monitor the GCA, NewForesight supports the Consultative Board of ICCO in the development of a comprehensive KPI-framework, measuring outcomes and impact at an international scale.

Want to know if an outcome-focused approach fits within your organization, and would you like to know how? Contact our inspirational strategist and senior consultant Joost Gorter, for a consultation on the topic.