Moonshots seem impossible until they hit their target. That was the mantra for our in-person acceleration workshop, held with our partners at Unlock Aid in Mexico City. The workshop was just one part of our larger acceleration process where we work with innovators to develop moonshots around global development goals. FAS’ largest policy-making meeting to date brought together over 70 participants (representing over 40 organizations, over 25 countries and six continents) to brainstorm creative approaches to achieving the Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals United by 2030.
After years of Zoom calls, conference calls, and emails, meeting our Accelerator cohort in person was a refreshing change of pace. Connecting IRL has enabled seamless collaboration on big issues like global water security, access and security. We have seen a convergence between organizations: City taps, To drinkand Evidence Action came together to create the “WaterShot” – a new approach to solving access to water with a market-for-results framework. We were again reminded that politics is fueled by people and that strong people-to-people connections inevitably lead to better and more creative political ideas.
The brainstorming at the event was inspired by remarks from global development leaders. Project draw talked about the Drawdown Framework for climate solutions, NPX Advisors demonstrated how to achieve better results with advanced market engagements, and Nasra Ismaila leader in global development strategy, spoke about the power of coalition building.
The workshop was a first opportunity to expose global development experts to the idea that politics, like seed funding or infrastructure investment, is an input that supports scaling up. Most individual innovators are naturally hyper-focused on scaling their individual ideas or products. But good policy is needed to build a thriving global development environment – a rising tide that lifts all entrepreneurial ships. One of the underlying themes of the Mexico workshop was the importance of politics as an engine of growth.
Now that we’re back in DC and have overcome our jet lag, the accelerator continues and we’re working with workshop participants to inform decision makers on key global development policy priorities. We reflect on weaknesses on the ground and opportunities for systems change, including allocating funds for innovation, elevating and integrating community voices into policy, and setting new results-driven standards.
The field of global development can be individualized and competitive – grants are scarce, which does not always promote the sharing of best practices. But achieving the SDGs by 2030 must be a collaborative effort. Issues like climate change and food security are more urgent than ever and require a whole new way of thinking about global development, finding and leveraging opportunities from proven results. Later this fall, watch for Moonshot memos from our participants as we roll them out. And if you have an idea on achieving the SDGs with a moonshot – or something else – why not submit it? Aiming for the moon is one thing, but getting there requires dedicated and sustained collaboration, and we’re so honored that these bold organizations want to work with us to make it happen.