The years leading up to the 2015 benchmark for global goals saw enthusiastic calls for doing development differently, reaching a crescendo as the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted to guide our work through 2030.
Specifically, the new SDG era’s focus on integration among previously siloed social, economic and environmental aims has aid agencies wondering how to better address complex, 21st-century development challenges through meaningful cross-sector collaboration. In this industry, we like staying in our lane: doing what is familiar, what we are good at, and what we can count. As a result, we’ve become so focused on a plethora of micro-targets in isolation that we’ve lost sight of how families, communities, and societies actually work. How can we start moving beyond the long-entrenched, single-issue programs run by highly specialized staff? What can we do differently to better respond to people’s multifaceted lives?
To flip the script and make decisions based on actual problems (and their many root causes) rather than shaping them to fit the status quo development siloes, we designed a decisionmaking tool called the Development Sector Adjacency Map. The map offers insights about common relationships between development fields (called adjacencies) and strategic considerations to leverage those linkages through strategic adaptation and expansion.