Multisolving


ˌmʌltiˈsɑlvɪŋ

pooling expertise, funding, and political will to solve multiple problems with a single investment of time and money (Sawin, 2018).

Co-Director of Climate Interactive, a not-for-profit energy and environment think tank, Elizabeth Sawin wrote an article in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) on multisolving after a year-long study of the implementation of such approach for climate and health. Defined as a way of solving multiple problems with a single investment of time and money, the multisolving approach brings together stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines to tackle public issues in a cost-efficient manner.

In the article, Sawin provides examples of multisolving that have been implemented in countries across the globe:

In Japan, manufacturing facilities use “green curtains”—living panels of climbing plants—to clean the air, provide vegetables for company cafeterias, and reduce energy use for cooling. A walk-to-school program in the United Kingdom fights a decline in childhood physical activity while reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. A food-gleaning program staffed by young volunteers and families facing food insecurity in Spain addresses food waste, hunger, and a desire for sustainability.

A Climate Interactive report provides three principles and three practices that can help stakeholders develop multisolving strategy. In the SSIR article, Sawin summarizes those principles into three points. First, she argues that a solution must serve everyone in a system without an exception. Second, she suggests that multisolvers must recognize that problems are multifaceted and that multisolving provides solution to multiple facets of a big issue. Third, Sawin posits that experimentation and learning are key to measuring the success of multisolving.

Further, in the article Sawin also outlined three good multisolving practices. First, she identifies openness to collaboration with actors from different sectors or groups in a society as a critical ingredient in developing a multisolving strategy. Second, Sawin stresses the importance of learning, documenting, and improving to ensure optimal benefits of multisolving for the public. Finally, she argues that communicating the benefits of multisolving to various stakeholders can help generate buy-in for a multisolving project.

In concluding the article, Sawin wrote “[n]one of these multisolving principles or tools, on their own, are revolutionary. They need no new apps or state-of-the-art techniques to work. What makes multisolving unique is that it weaves together these principles and practices in a way that builds over time to create big results.”