Community-scale change requires broad stakeholder engagement and a shared narrative that reaches and moves decision-makers.
DISCOVER (Defining Intersectional Sustainability to Collaboratively Optimize for a Vibrant and Equitable Region) builds beyond data and measurement, creating a shared, inclusive framework for measuring progress, coordinating communications, and driving interventions toward regional sustainability outcomes and policies.
DISCOVER is both a measurement project and a network of organizations. The goal? To supply the engagement and structure to define regional success and make sure that what gets measured actually gets managed.
DISCOVER provides an opportunity for linkages between many other networks. It is a project with the power to strengthen leadership, reinforce and amplify collaborative efforts, and support informed decision-making in our region.
The work of DISCOVER is ambitious but, we believe, necessary for achieving a shared vision of regional sustainability.
The dozens of organizations participating in DISCOVER are organized into a steering committee and four cross-sector working groups: Equity, Environment, Health, and Infrastructure.
DISCOVER’s approach, structure, results & findings, and implications for the nonprofit sector have been published within the newly launched Tropman Report (see page 49).
The Tropman Report, published by The Forbes Funds, is a compilation of strategies, thought pieces, research articles, and case studies that are all in direct response to the challenges facing the Nonprofit Sector in Western Pennsylvania.
Embedding Equity – Equity issues have an impact on all areas of work, and it’s the goal of the DISCOVER Project to ensure that equity is at the forefront of our work. Regardless of working group, prioritizing equity is the only way to truly reach regional sustainability.
Cross-Sector Conversations – The DISCOVER project is as much about process as it is product. The act of bringing organizations together from many different sectors and disciplines to discuss sustainability helps to encourage collaboration and understanding and creates outcomes and learnings that are not possible in any other way.
Data Collection – Using a methodology that uses the framework of the 17 UN SDGs and their targets, indicators will be identified for measurement. Using mostly existing datasets that can be accessed through the larger DISCOVER network, key data will be collected and available for regional-level analysis.
Regional Story-Telling – Using shared data will allow us to draw conclusions about sustainability initiatives in the region, help identify gaps, and create a shared regional narrative. There have been many initiatives that have focused on tracking sustainability in the region; it is the goal of DISCOVER to find the alignment between these efforts, reflect the topics they emphasize, and ensure that as a region, we begin talking about sustainability using the same language. Bi-directional learning between the network and the organizations of which it is composed will also help support the work of partner networks and organizations.
Informed Interventions – A shared narrative with many supporting organizations and leaders engaged from the beginning can help to inform policy-making and other outcomes. Through the collection of data in support of a shared regional narrative, we can inform positive policy change and other interventions leading to a more sustainable, vibrant, and equitable region.
Model Process – Many cities around the world have completed a UN SDG localization process; however, to our knowledge, there has not yet been a regional effort to do so in the United States. Our goal is to create a process model for regionalizing the UN SDGs that other regions might use. This project may thus encourage more regions to build cross-sector networks, share data, create regional narratives, and institute informed interventions.
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