Method and design principles to build the pathway to sustainability

Mapping your pathway to sustainability

Now, it’s your turn to design your pathway to sustainability based on your project idea or the initiative you would like to address.

To start designing the pathway, you can use the table “Building bridge” and you start with the level of well-being.

Then you continue level by level until the level of competences.

During this first stage of pathway mapping, you might face some challenges with the levels of change.

The easiest way to start is using cards or post-its and a wall to stick them.

So, you have the flexibility to move the changes to another level or another pathway when you get aware that it relates to another one.

Working directly in an impact matrix or logframe might be a great temptation “to save time”; but, you lose the advantages visualization provides us and at the end you will lose more time and resources if you design a pathway which is not coherent.

“Golden rules” and recommendations about how to define the objectives, outcomes and outputs
Check the level of change

The objectives  and results (impact and outcome) reflect changes in the individual and collective behaviour and performance of social actors that contribute to changes in the well-being of socio-ecological systems: people and planet.

Competences (outputs) are part of the pathway, but only if they are being used by adopting new behaviors and practices, we

can talk about real change.

An activity, such as raising awareness, or training youth, does not represent a change.

Key components of objectives, results and outputs:

Objectives, results and outputs answer the questions:                 

What changes? Competences, behaviour, performance, well-being 

Who changes?  Subject of change: person, social actors (family, groups, community, organization, network, institution…) 

What is the quality of the change? Approach, difference… sometimes, these can be identified just with an adjective or making

explicit the approach we are going to use.

Use simple sentences to keep it clear and simple

Formulate the objectives and results as you would formulate a normal sentence in English:

subject – predicate – object

Subject: Change agent

Predicate and object: The change, i.e. what does the social actor do differently.

Complement or adjective: What makes the difference? Approach, quality

Formulate the goals and results in the present as if they are already happening.

Do not use “can” or “should”.

For example, instead of formulating it this way:

“The government can introduce a law”…

It should be worded this way:

“The government introduces a law”

Use active not passive wording:

DO NOT: “Introduced a law about watershed management…” because often you don’t make visible the social actor who has to assume this responsibility, the subject of change.

Do: “The governmental institutions in charge of water management introduce a law about watershed management”.

Do not combine several levels of change in one sentence

DO NOT combine different levels of change in one objective, because this will be very confusing and you will be in trouble once you need to measure the results of your project.

For example: By training key decision-makers, the governmental institutions in charge of watermanagement introduce a law about watershed management to guarantee rural communities’ access to clean and sufficient water.

Here you have three different levels:

Well-being: … to guarantee rural communities’ access to clean and sufficient water

Performance: …the governmental institutions in charge of watermanagement introduce a law about watershed management

Activity: Training key decision-makers

Key words that indicate that we are mixing different levels of change are “by, through, in order to, for…”.

So always check your objectives and results and split them if you see that you have combined more than one level of change.