The Makings of an Engaging Sustainability Conversation
Thoughts and inspiration behind North West CDC Sustainability Report FY2018
It ain’t every day that we get to work on a project that champions a cause we are passionate about. Without a doubt, North West Community Development Council (CDC) Sustainability Report FY2018 ranks high in the list for more reasons than one.
North West CDC is one of five CDCs in Singapore. Since its inception in 2001, North West CDC has been rolling out various caring, healthy, green and lifelong learning programmes targeting nearly 269,000 households in the North West District. Particularly, as a strong green and sustainability advocate, North West CDC has initiated many green community programmes that are popular and well-supported by North West residents.
In 2016, North West CDC decided to publish an annual Sustainability Report as a means to track its achievements, and rally stakeholders to join in its sustainability journey. When North West CDC was looking to publish its third report in 2019, it wanted to build on the success of its past two reports while injecting a fresh visual and editorial approach.
In 2018, North West CDC unveiled its new North West Sustainability Plan 2030. Within which, eight goals are adopted and adapted from United Nation’s (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Resultantly, instead of keeping to a defined green focus, North West CDC is looking for Sustainability Report FY2018 to include all relevant programmes — this represents an over 100% increase in programme coverage compared to previous reports.
This poses the challenge of how to organise the report in such a way that stakeholders can easily understand the programmes, their relevance to the SDGs and, more importantly, find out how they can pitch in towards helping North West CDC to meet the set targets.
Two possibilities were identified from the get-go. The first was to keep to the existing reporting style by grouping the programmes and using them as anchors for different chapters. The second was to organise the report around the eight goals. After weighing all pros and cons, the decision was to proceed with having eight chapters in the report — in accordance with the adopted SDGs.
It works out to be a great solution because on one hand, it helps with building awareness for the adopted SDGs, and on the other, stakeholders are also better able to draw the link between North West CDC’s programmes and the respective SDGs. In addition, this structure facilitates easy tracking and benchmarking against targets set for 2030.
To augment this approach and help stakeholders navigate the report effectively, colours of the UN’s 17 SDGs were used for each corresponding chapter, acting as a strong visual guide for stakeholders. A consistent colour palette is also applied for sections where goal-specific data or information is reported.
In conjunction with the wider focus and the new report structure adopted for the Sustainability Report FY2018, the visual direction of the report has to be refreshed. Rather than being green initiative centric like the past two years, this report has to project a more neutral focus to be reflective of its broader coverage. Question is, with so many programmes to be covered, how can we come out with a visually captivating cover that is apt for its intent?
Recognising that Sustainability Report FY2018 is likely to set the tone for the reports in the next few years, the team decided to go with a more futuristic art direction for the cover. Notably, this direction taps into the thinking that North West Sustainability Plan 2030 is bold and forward-looking.
At the same time, for greater alignment between the cover visual and the report contents, the graphics of the eight adopted SDGs are integrated into the cover visual to set the tone for the entire report. Connecting lines are also added to the cover and throughout the report to suggest that each of these goals correlates with one another to drive the sustainability of North West CDC.
As a report targeting diverse groups of stakeholders, North West CDC wants to be able to show its achievements and engagements with varying segments of the community while retaining content robustness.
To address this issue and better reach out to different stakeholders, the team incorporated a variety of pictures from the spread of featured programmes. Eventually, by observing a 50:50 proportion of pictures and graphics to text, the report not only achieves a good visual balance, but also makes a content-heavy report aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. In addition, quotes from programme participants of different ages, gender and races are strategically included to establish a warm and personal tone for the report.
While the project has been successfully delivered and is well-received by North West CDC, the real work of getting the community to be engaged in sustainability conversations and ground-up sustainability causes is a work-in-progress. It is our hope that the report serves to inspire positive sustainability actions on all levels — community, corporate and individual.
Curious about the rest of the report? See the North West CDC Sustainability Report FY2018 up close.
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