Industry: Professional Consultancy
Applicable SDG: SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
R&G exists to tip the scales toward environmental and social sustainability by helping responsible organizations connect public perception and industry leverage and support for their positive impact—by inspiring behaviour change and driving innovation to propel a clean transition for society and the planet.
Goal 17—Partnership for the Goals—is core to our sustainable purpose, in that our work connects leaders across industries and sectors, bridging their common agendas and initiatives—or simply prompting new conversations—to achieve a more sustainable world through our skills in developing sustainable communications platforms.
We give our clients the sustainable marketing expertise they need to reach their business goals as they develop innovative ways to manage resources, and act on climate change realities, but we also measure our impact by how well the results of these projects draw collaborators and amplify across communities and stakeholder groups.
We see ourselves as the guardians and stewards of creative communications and connectivity—what we call the ‘psychosphere’ ring of the circular economy; a critical space where ideas live. There’s no achieving the SDGs in a silo. We need a sharing of ideas, realized through collaboration, cooperation and discovery. But organizations are often at arm’s length, rightly internally-focused on the specific drivers of their operations—which can keep them from seeing the intersecting possibilities.
Without organizations like ours aiming to keep a macro view of opportunities for connectivity across sectors—from governments and institutions to private business to advocacy groups or community-based organizations—there would be few to help those organizations recognize the rare opportunities for a uniquely circular or sustainable collaboration that would result in shared value beyond the sum of its parts.
Alongside our core customer service offerings, R&G Strategic helps bridge the gap through communications initiatives and platforms, discovery sessions, introductions, industry facilitation and stakeholder engagement to help these businesses build strong bonds and strong brands to outcompete their unsustainable counterparts. When we can help these ideas gain traction and garner support, everyone benefits from their transformative role in a greener, more sustainable world.
It’s our third year in business, and with the advent of COVID-19, it’s been a challenging one, but our confidence that working toward our sustainable ambitions will build equity for us and for our wider community continues to drive us. Last year we had great traction under our belt, but this year we knew we had to demonstrate our progress through qualified, target-based metrics results to show we can lead change on a larger scale.
Our core values continue to be driven by the quadruple bottom line framework of people, planet, purpose and profit. We understand that the total cost of doing business needs to incorporate environmental impact, social responsibility and economic value. Sustainability is the qualifier we use to determine which clients we partner with, whether they be cleantech innovators, NPOs, Governments, or organizations seeking to track, measure and report social initiatives. To understand our progress, sustainability and specific targets within Goal 17 are also how we measure the scope of our impact and our success rate.
Several key examples:
The Next Ride initiative, a collaborative partnership funded by the Nova Scotia Government and led by R&G, brought together the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines, electric vehicle OEMs including Chevrolet, local EV dealerships, CAA Atlantic and the Clean Foundation to drive Nova Scotian EV adoption. The project included leading rural and urban focus groups, concepting, creation and launch of the brand, strategy and producing the inaugural marketing campaign for Next Ride (https://nextridens.com/) to drive EV adoption within the province. This project addressed Goal 17 targets including: 17.14, Enhance Policy Coherence For Sustainable Development (to cohesify and action the Nova Scotian EV adoption strategy into an engagement platform and fully-realized focal point), and 17.17, Encourage Effective Partnerships (promoting effective public, public-private, and civil society partnerships that built on our unique experience and expertise).
R&G facilitated a discovery session between its two clients, Oberland Agriscience Inc. (a sustainable protein company using patented microbial technology to shelf-stabilize organic waste and use it to grow black soldier fly larvae), and Sustane Technologies Inc. (an organization able to turn 90% of municipal solid waste back into high purity materials), who went forward from the meeting to found a partnership along with Sustainable Blue (a sustainable land-based fish farm) that can close the carbon cycle by diverting almost all waste from landfills and compost bins, converting over 90% of it into energy and human-grade protein. The connection of these organizations was specifically facilitated by our team because we’d recognized the unique circular nature of their business models and the potential impact for sustainable development toward a society with low carbon protein sources, improved food security and less waste, and with an existing technological solution which, if scaled, wouldn’t just address these issues regionally, but also globally by targeting 17.16, Knowledge Sharing And Cooperation For Access To Science, Technology and Innovation (with a multi-stakeholder partnership to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technologies and resources to support the achievement of sustainable development goals in all countries).
R&G worked with ALUS (a member of the GCNC) to develop the new New Acre Platform (the digital platform at https://newacre.org to help corporations exceed sustainability objectives by supporting farmers and ranchers to build nature on their land) to automate, visualize and communicate environmental and social metrics collected from ALUS community conservation projects (“What’s in an acre?”). We specifically engaged CSR managers and sustainability professionals within enterprise organizations to speak with us, test the platform, evaluate our proposed audience experience, and give us feedback to our communications designs. The result went much further than enhancement and improvement to the design, as we leveraged the testing sessions to establish relationships between ALUS and our contacts, helping to facilitate delivery of better ESG data for sustainability-focused organizations contributing to the shared value of ALUS’s work, but also directly contributing to ALUS’s community growth and the scale of their conservation by funding new funding partnerships—contributing to 17.19, Further Developing Measurements of Progress (by evaluating and proposing new data tracking and visualization), but also 7.17, Encourage Effective Partnerships (by establishing relationships that enable private-sector companies to share the value in funding ALUS/New Acre’s conservation efforts that benefit farmer communities and the environment across Canada).
For R&G, our indicators must be rooted in understandability, visibility and the efficacy of an idea to propel real life action from its target audience. Our measure of success for any initiative also has to revolve around the immediate and potential impact and knowledge transfer of the collaborative partnership created to achieve it.
For Next Ride, we produced a free Nova Scotian EV market research report from our community engagement sessions which has been tracked and downloaded by over 50 industry and sector professionals (OEMs, insurance companies, car dealerships and environmental/energy policymakers)—it can be found here: https://www.rgstrategic.com/news-database/ev-market-research-report). The campaign itself traveled to 30+ community events to conduct outreach to countless Nova Scotians, hosted 500+ EV test drives with EV newcomers, had 300,000K unique impressions online and 50,000 digital engagements in 2019, and has supported an upward-trending curve in EV adoption in Nova Scotia.
Oberland, Sustane and Sustainable Blue quickly realized if 40% of the animal-based protein we currently consume were replaced with the fish product produced by this 3-company partnership (removing waste from landfills, feeding black soldier fly and growing sustainable salmon), it’s estimated we could lower global emissions by as much as 10%. The partnership has since taken crucial first-steps toward this vision through incorporation and by raising capital, and has attracted the attention of Patagonia’s Tin Shed Ventures’ $75 million fund for regenerative agriculture.
ALUS has just launched the New Acre Project, but it has already garnered $340,500 from the RBC Foundation and created early-stage funding relationships with two of our enterprise test subjects to contribute to their community programming.
We also continue to measure our impact on the intangibles—the successful efforts of our clients—which we have a clear but indirect effect on, and as we learn more, we hope to track indicators from these areas to show the halo effect our work can have in making a better world.
Success, for instance, is building a brand for Efficiency Canada and a long-term partnership to help them realize their potential to be the national voice for an energy efficient economy while they drive economic growth, stable jobs, healthier homes and lead the fight against global climate change.
It’s creating a brand and a website for Polaron Solar, who are eliminating traditional cost barriers of choosing solar, making it more affordable and accessible than ever for Canadians to switch to a renewable energy source.
It’s envisioning the concept and delivery for TD Insurance and the Ready Commitment’s “Sustainable Home” Pavilion at Toronto’s Green Living Show, connecting TD’s key ESG priorities to its communications and helping demonstrate its strides toward a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow by delighting families as they discovered valuable tips for protecting and preparing their home for changing weather and a changing world.
Since R&G exclusively helps sustainable businesses crush their unsustainable competition, we need to build an unbeatable reputation synonymous with sustainability. Their efforts can be tracked in market share, reported effects on reducing overall emissions, reaching climate goals, mitigating climate change risk, reducing waste, driving the circular economy and creating social value that extends beyond their bottom line.
How well we enable and empower our clients to make their own impact is how we continue to gauge our partnership performance and we measure our clients’ satisfaction through third-party reviews to determine their perceptions of our impact on their success.
R&G Strategic is a close-knit team who were brought in because of their passion for sustainable businesses. For internal stakeholders, we’ve conducted several development workshops to build our eco-centric culture and define clear objectives for sustainable growth. Internally, the SDGs are not an afterthought—they are embedded directly into our purpose, core values and identity.
SDG 17 in particular is our primary focus and appears explicitly within our work with clients in relation to their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, but we’ve also developed an internal marketing campaign using a custom-designed SDG poster to reach out to like-minded clients and build awareness for our alignment to the SDGs, to draw others to the conversation, and hopefully connect them with solutions or each other in order to further these goals.
Apart from our standard messaging to external stakeholders regarding our work and our clients, our leadership team have been active voices in partnership for the goals, helping other organizations understand the challenges and opportunities in leveraging SDG targets to direct socioeconomic development for a better world, using the example of our work toward Goal 17 to demonstrate SDG effectiveness for regional environmental sustainability and potential global solutions. These types of speaking engagements include TedXDalhousie, the WBE Annual Conference and the global Social Shifters network.
COVID-19 has been a global challenge, and it has demonstrated the need and ignited the passion for a sustainable recovery with the SDGs at its core. While we’ve changed our day-to-day operations to become a digital-first agency—enabling our team to work remotely from wherever they’re comfortable to achieve our purpose—our focus on partnering with sustainable businesses to help them succeed in the marketplace remains unchanged. While we are anxious to see some sustainable sectors struggling to navigate these difficult times, we are also encouraged by new partnerships we’ve made with businesses aligned to our values and the aims of the SDGs, as well as contributing to a green recovery, especially in the energy and innovation sectors.
Our external reviews and internal observations have clearly demonstrated the importance of clear, transparent and authentic communication and purpose alignment. Being attentive and responsive to the specific needs of our clients has been invaluable to our collective success and their resilience during these difficult times. Also, our specific expertise and knowledge in relation to their responsible consumption and production, and how that relates to their core purpose can’t be understated.
Finding an agency like ours completely dedicated to sustainability is rare. So it is our responsibility to make sure other sustainable businesses know we can provide expert advice as they navigate COVID-19, and how we can help them weather disruption and adapt to new realities by providing context to their stakeholders and customers. We are young and growing, so maintaining that intimate collaboration will be paramount for success.
One important evolution of 2020 linked to COVID-19 but a key issue of its own, is the realization many organizations are having that diversity and inclusion is both a critical issue and a major opportunity for social good. It certainly is for R&G and for our partners—and what’s next for R&G is the development of a cleantech and clean energy “Justice Grant.” in partnership with the Efficiency Canada team, to provide in-kind services for a BIPOC entrepreneur in the space (R&G already contributes 100 hours yearly to women entrepreneurs in cleantech and clean energy through a similar grant tied to Natural Resources Canada-led #equalby30 campaign).