Running successful sustainable lifestyles projects

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The Task Force has identified four steps to running a successful project on sustainable lifestyles:

  1. Set SMART objectives, which focus resources and increase the likelihood of success”
    • Specific: Objectives should specify what they want to achieve
    • Measureable: You should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives or not. The Task Force projects found this particularly challenging as lifestyles and, particularly, behaviour change are difficult to measure.
    • Achievable: Are the objectives you set achievable and attainable?
    • Relevant: Is your outcome relevant to the problem you're looking to solve?
    • Time bound: When do you want to achieve the set objectives?
  2. Research: There are a lot of different research techniques you can use. The most frequently used research techniques are: surveys, one-to-one interviews (either over the phone or face-to-face), focus groups, observation, and quantitative data analysis.
  3. Planning your process: A solid project management process, involving the right partners, is essential for the smooth running of a project. Having clear processes in place makes it easy for projects to be replicated elsewhere and scaled up. Emphasis should be put on:
    • defining the roles and responsibilities of all partners and team members,
    • monitoring the project management process
    • identifying timelines and project milestones
    • developing a detailed budget
    • considering potential partnerships
  4. Evaluation: Evaluation is an essential phase that is often neglected, but it is essential for future project expansion. It is important to assess whether the planned activities took place, objectives were achieved and outcomes delivered. The different types of evaluation are:
    • Process: Measures the activities and project quality.
    • Outcome: Measures the immediate effects of the project and indicates whether objectives are being achieved
    • Impact: Measures the longer term effects of the project. It indicates whether the project is achieving its goal.

People need to be engaged, enabled and encouraged to change their behavior through communications, education, capacity building and infrastructure development. Think about which of the 4 E's your project is focusing on.

Who will manage the project?
It is vital that your project has clear structures of communication and responsibility. Identify the lead organization and define the roles and responsibilities of all players. Consider setting up a steering group with experts on communications, policy, education and sustainable development.

Have you developed a project management process?
Who is responsible for monitoring whether targets have been reached and deadlines met? How will they do this? What happens if these are missed? Establish areas of responsibility right at the start. You will also need to develop a crisis management plan.

Have you thought about the different stages of implementation?
Develop a timeline for your campaign. Identify the milestones and what needs to be delivered when. If resources are limited, linking with other activities can help increase outreach.

Have you thought about resources?
Develop a budget. Take account of all the resources needed (people, skills, materials, time and money). Are they enough to deliver the objectives? Consider any potential risks and build in contingency plans.

Consider partnerships:
A partner is anyone who helps to make a project happen. For sustainable lifestyles, partners often have good relationships with the target audience. Partnerships need a solid framework with clear areas of responsibility and communication. It is important that every partner organization has a clear role. Use partners to expand coverage or support in areas with little resources or expertise. However, avoid relying too heavily on partners.