The Magic of “Multisolving”

Elizabeth Sawin at Stanford Social Innovation Review: “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.

Each of these is a real-life example of what I call “multisolving”—where people pool expertise, funding, and political will to solve multiple problems with a single investment of time and money. It’s an approach with great relevance in this era of complex, interlinked, social and environmental challenges. But what’s the best formula for implementing projects that tackle many problems at once?

Climate Interactive, which uses systems analysis to help people address climate change, recently completed a year-long study of multisolving for climate and health. We learned there is no one-size-fits-all recipe, but we did identify three operating principles and three practices that showed up again and again in the projects we studied. What’s more, anyone wanting to access the power of cross-sectoral partnership can adopt them….(More)”.