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Sustineo’s 2023 – a year in review

Selfie of the Sustineo team smiling under a 'sustineo' sign

It’s been another busy, challenging, and immensely rewarding year for the team at Sustineo. 2023 has seen the team continue to drive positive social, economic, and environmental change across the Asia and Pacific region, as well as locally in our community. Below we recap some of the highlights from the busy and exciting year gone by.

People and partnerships

This year saw the team get back into the field. After several years of travel restrictions, we have been thrilled to get travelling again and to reconnect with partners across the Pacific region. Team members participated in multiple field visits as part of our work in Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and Solomon Islands. Nothing beats being on the ground in the countries where we work!

Kate, Almah, and Ellis on a recent PNG fieldtrip

We have strengthened our partnership with our longstanding PNG partner Anglo Pacific Research (APR) and are excited to make some further announcements in early 2024. As part of our trips to PNG, Sustineo team members were able to spend quality face-to-face time with the APR team, and even co-delivered a study in PNG looking at perspectives on, and use of, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

It was a bitter-sweet year as we said goodbye to some familiar faces and welcomed new ones to our dynamic team. Among the departing team members was Dr Asenati Liki Chang-Tung (aka Nati) who has contributed to the Sustineo team immensely over the last four years, especially in growing our Pacific expertise and networks. Rest assured that Nati is still working with us on multiple projects and will continue to be a key part of the Sustineo family moving forward.

We have had the pleasure of adding two Senior Consultants to our team through 2023. The arrival of Jodie Kane has bolstered our team credentials with her 15+ years of experience in monitoring, evaluation, and research. Dr Almah Tararia, who is based in PNG, has also joined the team, bringing her deep experience of politics, gender, and development issues, and has extended our capabilities in PNG through her in-country presence.

Consultants Kate Lanyon and Ngoc Trinh joined the team (and in doing so lowered the average age of the office considerably!). It has been rewarding to see their personal growth and development over the last six months. We look forward to what they will achieve next year!

2023 also saw the return of Sustineo’s founder Andrew Rowe who has helped improve our internal systems and practices, bolster our business development, and has been central to strengthening our partnership with APR.

Projects and impact

Sustineo has continued to deliver high quality research and evaluation projects, with a strong focus on expanding our impact in the Pacific. A few of our projects are highlighted below:

Climate adaptation in Papua New Guinea

Over the year, we have extended our research on climate adaptation and rural livelihoods in PNG with the ANU Institute of Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions (ICEDS). A key focus of this work has been on exploring the potential to develop a voluntary carbon initiative with smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers as part of a DFAT funded project. It has also been rewarding to see our collaborative research with ANU ICEDS published in a peer-reviewed journal, Regional Environmental Change.

Climate Resilient by Nature Initiative

A highlight of the year has been working with WWF for the first time as a partner on their carbon markets program as part of the Climate Resilient by Nature Knowledge Hub. We published our work on the potential of voluntary carbon markets to bring about positive livelihood development benefits in the Pacific.

Evidence review of social protection

We have worked closely with the DFAT-funded Partnerships for Social Protection (P4SP) program to review the published evidence on social protection in the Pacific and Timor-Leste. This project has been a real team effort, involving a comprehensive literature review that considered more than 7,000 documents. The Annotated Bibliography and Evidence Review report are expected to be published in early 2024, serving as important publicly available tools for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in the social protection sphere.

Pacific Labour Facility Family Accompaniment Implementation Framework

This impactful project involved over 60 interviews with a variety of stakeholders involved or interested the forthcoming Family Accompaniment pilot under the Pacific–Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. Drawing on a strong research foundation, we worked closely with the Pacific Labour Facility and DFAT to developed an evidence-based implementation framework to guide safe and effective family accompaniment as part of the PALM scheme.

Payment for ecosystem services in Solomon Islands

Our Principal Consultant, Dr Matt Allen, has been busy working with Nakau and Live & Learn Solomon Islands to support the design and implementation of activities aimed at improving the sustainable management of Honiara’s main water catchment areas. This project, which is funded by the Asian Development Bank and implemented by Solomon Water, has seen Matt spend plenty of time in Solomon Islands to meet with community members as part of a social assessment that will help lay the foundation for the co-design of community-based sustainable catchment management activities.

Food, fuel, and fertiliser price monitoring in the Pacific and Timor-Leste

Another big project we kicked off this year was monthly price monitoring surveys across 8 Pacific Island Countries and Timor-Leste. This project is part of the Pacific Recovery Economic Support (PRES) programme for DFAT. It has been one of the most logistically complicated projects we’ve undertaken in recent times, overseeing concurrent data collection in 28 locations across 9 countries with rapid turnaround for the data. Through this project, we have been able to strengthen and expand our network of partners across the 9 countries, and hope opportunities to work with them continue to come up in the future.

Our contributions

One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is the opportunity to participate in the community and get behind important causes both abroad and at home.

Continued support for women and girls in Canberra

We have been very pleased to continue our support for the great work that YWCA Canberra is doing to empower women, girls, and non-binary people in the ACT. We once again supported their Great Ydeas Small Grants Program which provides grants up to $2500 to support women, girls, and non-binary people to pursue their passions and improve our community. The winner of our Great Ydeas Empowerment Grant was Pauline Siteaud with her initiative ‘Project Empower’, a volunteer-run program aimed uplifting, educating and empowering teenage girls across regional, rural, and remote Australia.

We were also proud to support YWCA Canberra with their third iteration of the ‘Our Lives: Women in the ACT’ survey. The 2023 survey builds on the previous two surveys to build a more holistic understanding of how Canberrans are managing, what their lived reality is like and the effort some put in to make ends meet.

Leah Dwyer (YWCA Canberra) with Nina Davis and Tom Sloan at the 'Our Lives' report launch.

Femili PNG

We are passionate about the work that Femili PNG does to support survivors of family and sexual violence in PNG. Tom has been an active board member of the Australian branch, and as a team we have been strong advocates for their coffee (try some for yourself here) and their fund raiser trivia night (unfortunately our deep research experience in PNG didn’t translate into results at the trivia night!).

International Development Contractors Community

Our Executive Director, Nicky Thatcher, has continued to contribute as a member of the International Development Contractors Community (IDCC) Board. IDCC is the peak body representing international development consultants and contractors working with the Australian aid program. Within the Board context, Nicky has continued to play a big role advocating for smaller firms – like us – in the vast ‘Australian development ecosystem’.

Australasian Aid Conference 2023

Sustineo was a proud sponsor of the 2023 Australasian AID Conference. The conference provided a forum for academic, policy, and practitioner communities from across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Pacific region to share insights on the region’s most pressing development challenges in pursuit of enhanced collaboration, greater impact, and better evidence-based policy and programming.

Two stars from our team – Ellis Mackenzie and Kate Lanyon – took to the stage at the conference to present our recent research. Ellis presented Sustineo’s research on the state of voluntary carbon markets in the Pacific, while Kate presented findings on the current status of evidence about social protection in the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

Looking ahead

We are signing off for 2023 and taking a well-earned break to recharge. A massive thank you to our clients, associates, partners, and our whole network – together you have helped us achieve amazing things over the past year!

The Sustineo office will be closed from Wednesday 20 December 2023, reopening on Wednesday 10 January 2024. We look forward to reconnecting in 2024 — perhaps at our SIDER drinks… follow us on LinkedIn to know when the first of 2024 will be!

If you are interested in joining our team, or know an experienced researcher who might be, you are in luck! We are currently looking for a Principal Consultant to join our growing team. Check out the position description here. Applications close 7 January 2024.

For more information on Sustineo’s work, feel free to reach out via email: You can also follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

The Sustineo team with their gifts from our festive 'Stealing Santa'. L–R: Andrew, Ellis, Matt, Almah, Ngoc, Kate, Nicky, Nina, Tom.