The challenge

Our global society faces complex, large-scale and urgent development and sustainability challenges. There are many organisations trying to tackle them, and there are plenty of great ideas and solutions out there; but collectively we’re struggling to have positive impact at scale, and fast enough, to move humanity onto a more sustainable path.


What we did - Phase 1

Forum for the Future and Shell Foundation worked together to develop a better understanding of the role of market-based solutions in addressing development and sustainability challenges, and to find practical ways to scale up the most effective approaches for greater impact.

Our research included a review of existing insights, additional desk research and in-depth interviews. We also held a series of high-level workshops in the UK, the US and India involving  organisations - from NGOs and foundations to businesses and development agencies - who are leading the way in terms of system innovation.

As a result, we have developed a toolkit including a framework for achieving impact at scale, an analysis of common barriers to progress, a set of insightful stories and case studies, and recommendations and possible routes for further action. Scaling Up Impact: A Guide for Collective Action is available to download here.


What we are doing - Phase 2

Phase 2 is underway, with the following plans for the year ahead;

  • Three or more ‘Scale Labs’ – dynamic platforms for collective action, bringing together businesses and foundations around their sustainable development challenges.
  • A digital tool to aid collective action – functionality to assist in the process of bringing together and mobilising organisations for acceleration of impact.
  • Scaling up Impact ‘summit’ – a global event which will share and inspire learning, and support breakthrough collaborations for scale.




"Social innovation does not happen easily and, as this study shows, achieving scale or replication at an industry level is rare.  If you want to achieve lasting global impact you need to take a systemic approach to test new ideas and to build new markets around those that work – and that means looking beyond short-term projects to far more effective forms of cross-sector collaboration.”

Chris West, Director, Shell Foundation


Get involved

To find out more about the project, or how to get involved with Phase 2, please contact Zahra Davidson by email or call +44 (0)20 7324 3682.


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Partners involved in this project