The 100 Solutions exercise has our cohort scratching their heads - in order to propose solutions, you first need to define the problems. So what is problematic about the sand crisis? The issues we pinpoint seem to fall into a few distinct categories: we're lacking in data, viable alternatives to sand, political action, awareness.
A number of us converge in the belief that raising awareness not just among the general public, but particularly among policy-makers and stakeholders is crucial. Ta-da! Our group (Alex, Ravi, Marcelo, Maria, Stephanie) takes shape, united by a common goal: putting the sand crisis on the international agenda. Or, in Alex's words, MAKING SAND SEXY.
Now we set the context.
We pinpoint the root causes of the ignorance or lack of prioritisation of the sand issue among policy-makers: lack of information (and understanding of the urgency of the problem) and no platform for discussion of the topic. These result in a lack of engagement and cooperation, which undermines the potential for action.
This helps us define our theory of change. Based on the assumption that information and interaction will facilitate and encourage policy action, we formulate our main end product as an online platform hosting data and resources on the sand crisis, policy recommendations and potential solutions. The platform should also allow stakeholders to engage and interact, so we decide to include a timeline of events such as conferences where the stakeholders can put the sand crisis on the agenda.
Additional ideas include organising a side event, developing an index calculating the ecological footprint for the sand industry, a case study on adapting existing mining standards to sand mining (based on IRMA). We also need to prepare detailed stakeholder research.
We prepare a timeline detailing our course of action.
Our project proposal can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/127MDKkMAik3sK-fB_7q8pRF9wvWlWrVSyp3NmqmOZn4/edit
We've created an online platform which offers general information on the sand crisis but also caters to stakeholders from different fields by providing targeted resources.
Having defined our SDG focus as SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals, we also start integrating our network analysis. We visually present it in a cluster form, which demonstrates existing and potential links between the various stakeholders.
The beta-version of our website can be viewed at sandcrisis.weebly.com
Creating a Sand Index would help quantify the sand crisis and would be useful both for awareness raising and research purposes. We realise that it would be unrealistic to create a Sand Index within 1,5 months, but we decide to define indicators and guidelines for further action on it with the support of Global Footprint Network.
However, after receiving feedback and discussing the idea, we decide that it is too time-consuming and question how useful and effective the Footprint tool really is, leading us to a dead end. For the moment, we decide not to move ahead on the Sand Index.
We understand that different actors hold different stakes in the sand crisis, have different interests and values, and different potential for action. There needs to be an individual approach for each stakeholder if we want to secure engagement. We also need to analyse the actor network in order to understand which partnerships can be strengthened or created.
For this we conduct a stakeholder analysis on the basis of our stakeholder research. For each stakeholder, we define:
- the entry points into the sand issue
- their roles and potential for action
- contact points, strengths, weaknesses, weight (ground presence in terms of number of member countries)
Each actor is assigned tags based on their roles (type of entity) and type of sustainable development engagement (social, economical, environmental or a combination of these). This will be useful for our cluster analysis.
We get involved in the organisation of the Sand hackathon (Nov. 22-23). The idea is to frame the sand issue with links to concrete challenges and promote collaboration and discussion in the search for solutions. So far, our proposed challenge is the integration/promotion of a circular economy model in the framework of the sand crisis as a case study.
We start reaching out to our list of stakeholders for interviews.
Purpose of the interviews:
- conduct qualitative research
- get a sense of the awareness context and inform the stakeholders
- better define stakeholders' entry points and angles
- present the beta-version of our website and get feedback on how to make it more useful and engaging for stakeholders
Upon consulting Louise, we set a structure for the interviews:
- 5 questions in total, 3-4 "tick box" (Likert scale) questions to set the context and 1-2 open-ended ones that promote discussion and allow us to calibrate our approach
- The first questions generally test the awareness of the stakeholder
- The open-ended questions address: 1) what action the stakeholder thinks can be taken in the sand crisis, 2) how useful our platform could be for the stakeholder, and in what way
The interviews will be conducted in person or via Skype/phone call, according to a script, with the open-ended section of the interview adapted to each actor and their role/perspective.
This research will help us consolidate and target our website, strengthen our network analysis but also figure out our areas of focus and which gaps need to be bridged.
We start by reaching out to the participants of the Round Table, but expand to other organisations and firms we believe to be relevant.
We have yet to figure out how to monitor the impact our platform will make. Ideas include tracking user engagement on the website, introducing an interactive section linking different stakeholders, listing actors who followed up our contact by taking concrete action (eg. speaking about the issue at an event from our timeline).
We are scouting actors who could collaborate with us on keeping the website functional and evolving once the course is done. Ideally we would prefer a partnership between 2 or more entities (eg. UNEP, WWF, IUCN,...) with our group still involved in directing the development of the website.
Till today we have completed Stakeholder research for around 30 different organizations and so we discussed the next step on how to go ahead with analysis of them.
Excerpt of discussion on 2nd November:
As shown in the picture we are trying to come up with the mechanism on how the actors will be categorized and also how we will define the linkages between them.
Criteria based on priority:
1. Primary Role (4 roles)
2. Secondary Roles (4 roles)
3. Sustainable Development Tag (Social, Economical, Environmental)
4. Organization Type (Public, Private, CSO)
We will be categorizing all the actors as per the above criteria and the one who aligns with each other on more criteria will be shown with strong linkages.
Results which we are expecting:
1. Clusters of organization
2. Where are the strong linkages
3. Were are the weak/ no linkages
We will try to provide our recommendations and strategy keeping this as one of the basis.
In this page, one will find the most important regional and international conventions in which we believe the sand issue could be inserted.
It can be used by law-makers and policy-makers and policy-makers to realize that the frameworks to combat the sand crisis are already in place, they just have to be amended to include the preservation of sand.
We want our website to be actor focused and to deliver targeted content.
For this reason, we have created a section titled "What's your role?", which in two clicks wil bring our user to a page directed and designed to cater to his interests and his role.
Specifically, the page will contain:
a. How does the sand crisis affect you, your area of interest or your organization?
b. What can you do about it?
c. Which conferences could talk about the sand issue?
d. Which organizations should you work with? (Based on the actor mapping)
The "What is your role?" page took off this week and is now organized to incorporate: Civil Society, International Organizations, Private Sector, and Governments - then will allow the user to select their more specific realm of interest.
Can be seen here: https://sandcrisis.weebly.com/what-is-your-role.html
Our Stakeholder Engagement Plan has now added many steps to map out the relations between actors. We are showing linkages based on: Role (policy-making, awareness, standards, financing), Type (international-level, NGO, private sector), Sustainable Development level (economic, environmental, social), and Scale (International, national, regional).
Soon, the mapping visual will be created and added to the website.
We have created an interactive timeline that maps out events related to the sand crisis that stakeholders can attend. It is organized by field of interest (Social, Economic, Environmental) and showcases how sand can be added to the agenda of existing events (as opposed to creating a conference specifically on sand).