Collaboration is increasingly seen as necessary for making progress on the challenges at the forefront of the sustainability agenda.

This report explores the dynamics driving the evolution of company collaboration in and across sectors and highlights some of the innovative models that have developed.

Several factors are driving the evolution of collaborations:

  • Stakeholders expect more ambition and transparency from companies - even on topics the companies do not directly control.
  • Increasing urgency on sustainability topics is acting as an accelerant.
  • Uptake of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is enabling cross-sector and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

As a result, corporate engagement in multi-stakeholder initiatives is shifting:

  • Companies are being more proactive and strategic with time and resource investments.
  • The private sector is overcoming competitive barriers to solve more systemic problems.
  • Models are diversifying to shape and support more successful collaborations.

The report looks at how to be an effective collaborator and develop a high-level strategy.  It also includes a framework and best practice guideline for managing collaborations through four major lifecycle milestones - Evaluate, Structure, Manage and Conclude.

Our report identifies several trends that will shape collaboration over the next 3–5 years:

  • Diversity, inclusion, and equity topics will be the focus of new collaborations.
  • Collaborations will increasingly address intersectional challenges.
  • Broadening coalitions will drive innovations in collaborations.
  • Despite technological advances, future collaborations will still lean heavily on interpersonal connections.

The environmental and social challenges we face need more innovative, sophisticated, and collaborative approaches and solutions. There’s much to be optimistic about. The private sector is becoming more active in developing collaborations and companies are finding new ways to drive change through innovative models and funding structures.

The stakes could not be higher. We need more action. We hope the recommendations in this report will help corporate sustainability practitioners be effective participants in and organizers of collaborations that will help to build a more sustainable world.