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Author  John Edmonds – Senior PPM Architect, PeopleCert

November 2, 2023 |

 8 min read

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John Edmonds, Senior PPM Architect at PeopleCert, volunteers as a trustee for the charity Roots Sudan. This small, UK-based charity supports educational initiatives in the South Sudan town of Yei.

From the founding of the charity some 15 years ago, John tapped into the PRINCE2 project management method to help the charity achieve lasting benefits for the community. A new focus on sustainability in PRINCE2 7, the latest edition of the method, has injected fresh relevance to charity projects:

Working with the Roots Sudan charity prompted – for me – two key questions founded in best practice project management:

  1. What can we do that will not just deliver some ‘easy’ project outputs, but also ensure that these develop into real-world, changed behaviour (outcomes) and much-needed benefits?
  2. How can we help to deliver and embed sustainable change in a situation that is so desperate for progress?

Working for many years with the PRINCE2 project management method – and particularly its seven principles – was my starting point for answering these questions: when considering any initiative. things like focusing on products, learning from experience, and continued business justification are always important.

But today, with the introduction of PRINCE2 7, there is a new dimension to the method: sustainability.

Sustainability is a huge topic that impacts people, and organizations of all sizes and countries around the world. This means project management teams will need to clearly understand the sustainability targets relevant to their work and keep them central to their thinking.

PRINCE2 7 references the 17 sustainable development goals created by the United Nations (UNSDGs) covering a wide range of topics. Some of the goals that Roots Sudan is focused on are:

  • Quality Education
  • Gender equality
  • Sustainable communities

The challenge for such a small charity is how to use its time and funds in the most effective way. So, the focus on sustainability provides clarity in determining which projects to support. In fact, having a ‘sustainability mindset’ helps any organization to:

  • Choose the right projects
  • Understand the sustainability requirements of the project deliverables (products)
  • Ensure that the project itself is delivered sustainably

With a sustainability mindset in action, Roots Sudan is supporting initiatives that will enable a school in Yei to survive and to grow in its impact – and in a way that works towards being self-sufficient in the future. For example:

The school shop:

The charity funded the building and equipping of a school shop that sells stationery, drinks, and snacks. Profits made in the shop are then used to pay teachers, provide food for the children, and buy school resources. This initiative has been so successful that a larger shop – with a coffee area – is now open and going from strength to strength (international coffee chains beware!).

The school garden:

Schools must find the resources to feed children in South Sudan but they receive no funds. So, around the school perimeter they are now growing vegetables and, to ensure the long-term sustainability of this, the charity is now fund-raising for a perimeter fence to deter vegetable theft.

Supporting projects with a sustainability focus brings clear benefits to the community while making it easier to decide where to invest limited time and funds.

Sustainability is not a passing phase that’s here today, gone tomorrow.  So, in the same way, the subject is critical to the work of Roots Sudan, it is essential as part of PRINCE2 7; bringing a new level of prominence to the topic, which is vital for people, organizations, and projects now and for the foreseeable future.