The non-profit global alliance features nine organizations committed to dedicating the power of their design communities to addressing the UN SDGs — beginning with SDG 6: clean water and sanitation.
A global non-profit alliance of industry-leading companies and institutions across private sector, academia and social sectors launches today — with the goal of advancing measurable positive impact against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), on a scale only possible through global collaboration.
The Design for Good alliance comprises General Mills, Logitech, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft Xbox, Nedbank, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Philips and the Royal College of Art — with the aim to expand its ranks soon. The design leaders at each of the founding companies will make up an advisory council that supports the 5,000-strong design community across all nine organizations in an unprecedented, nine-month initiative to design and develop open-source products and services to address some of society’s biggest challenges.
Combined, the Design for Good alliance already has over $400 billion in revenues, almost 1 million employees and 5,000 designers. Each organization has committed to allow their designers to work together in cross-company teams to research, design and develop products and services that will make a meaningful difference to the UN SDGs.
“The scale of the environmental and societal challenges we face today — climate change, poverty, water and sanitation, global inequality and injustice — requires collaboration of equal scale if we are to find solutions for all people,” says Alastair Curtis, chief design officer at Logitech. “The role of a designer is to improve the way we live; and this is a chance of a lifetime to do just that. Design for Good harnesses the talents of a world-class design community, unleashes the force of our collective experience, and can catalyze innovation and social change. It’s time to act.”
Each year, Design for Good will focus on one UN SDG. In this, its inaugural year, the alliance will seek to address Goal 6, focused on clean water and sanitation. Billions of people worldwide live without safely managed drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, which are critical for protecting human health. Gilbert Houngbo, Chair of UN-Water, is a trustee of Design for Good and will help cultivate the support of local NGOs in communities most affected to provide insights into real-world needs and constraints, to ensure designers’ solutions are sustainable. Design solutions may address issues such as access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene; the promotion of desalination, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies; or the implementation of integrated water resources management.
The board of trustees for Design for Good already comprises Houngbo, Benedict Sheppard (Partner, McKinsey & Company), Nick de Leon (Executive, Royal College of Art) and John Maeda (technologist and designer).
The participation of local NGOs is integral to the initiative, providing insights and support to the designers from the outset to ensure the products are based on real user needs and constraints. Each year’s program is run over 6+ months to allow sufficient time for iteration within impacted communities. All new solutions will be made available to the impacted communities on an open-source, licence-free basis to maximise impact. The most promising initiatives will be given additional funding and support to scale their benefit further.
The Design for Good framework
Founding partners commit investment of up-front funding and resource from design community within each organization;
Volunteer designers, with the support of their organization, individually sign up to contribute five days of their time towards ideating, researching and prototyping a product or service that responds to the designated UN SDG;
Designers will collaborate across regions, organizations and disciplines on the possible thousands of design-focused and human-centric solutions, with support from local NGOs to provide insight into real user needs and constraints from the outset;
Solutions are to be submitted after six months and assessed against the UN targets and indicators, and made available on an open-source, license-free basis;
The most promising new solutions each year will be awarded funding for accelerated scaling and implementation for global benefit;
Over time, the aspiration is to create innovations that transform the lives of millions of people and communities around the world. The intention is not only to create direct and measurable change, but to transform the way large companies and institutions collaborate on common goals.
The initial results of Design for Good, with the first ideas announced for implementation, will be published later in 2022.
For more information, visit designforgood.org.