It’s Material is a social enterprise that strengthens connections between people, places, and the processes that shape them.

We provide:


Expert facilitation that creates the space for people to work well together: from one-off-retreats, to longer-term collaboratives and coalitions.


Strategic research and clear communication, so that messages reach the places they need to. From story-telling, to research reports, to short board memos.


Thoughtful and effective strategies that unlock social and environmental change.

It’s Material was founded by Annabel Short. Annabel has two decades’ experience advancing human and workers’ rights, climate action and economic transformation, at the local and international levels.

It’s Material’s projects are in close partnership with others, bringing in complementary expertise and capacity from an extensive network.

Get in touch: annabel @ its-material.com

Why “It’s Material”?

Because when it comes to what is really material in our lives, there is often more that connects than divides us.

Because there is a lot to learn from the constituent parts of a product or process.

Because it’s important to connect bottom-line materiality for business with what’s material to the future of people and the planet.

And because everyone has unique material that they bring to the table.

I explore more of these ideas in the “It’s Material” newsletter: sign up here.



Latapie House, Lacaton and Vassal

I created and led the Dignity by Design program on human rights and the built environment with IHRB, Raul Wallenberg Institute, Rafto Foundation and Melbourne School of Design, from 2019-2023.

At the core of this program is the “Dignity by Design” framework. This is a dynamic tool that guides every stage of the built environment lifecycle in ways that connect with local contexts, while adhering to international human rights standards and contributing to the SDGs.

I’m a board member of Home.Earth, which is bringing a fresh approach to real estate in Denmark and beyond, and a member of the Design for Freedom Working Group focused on working conditions in building materials supply chains.


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I helped grow the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre into a thriving global non-profit with a presence in over ten countries, having joined as its second employee back in 2003 and set up the New York office in 2007. This meant I was immersed in global efforts to bring a human rights approach to business from their earliest stages. I have a track record of pushing new frontiers of business responsibility and accountability for human rights.


“Cityscape” glass bowl by Jay Musler at the Corning Museum of Glass

At the local level, I led coalitions, strategy and research at the intersection of climate, jobs and community with ALIGN (Alliance for a Greater New York). I have worked to localize human rights and climate action in creative ways. Check out my Open Democracy piece on cities as an important arena for human rights advocacy.

I am also currently leading the Youth Media Forward initiative with the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, working with young journalists in four of the host cities for the 2026 North America World Cup (Guadalajara, New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Toronto).


For Building and Woodworkers’ International, I researched and wrote “100 union actions on climate justice“. The report gathers examples of transformation by BWI affiliates across sectors and regions, through a combination of interviews and a survey.

I have guided multiple projects on workers’ rights – including the development of the investor-facing KnowTheChain benchmark on forced labor in supply chains, and facilitation for a group of US-based workers’ rights organizations.

I established the global research, narrative and advocacy project “Building for Today and the Future” on a just transition in the built environment: 2022-24.


Together with Amita Nagaraja I coordinated the FORGE funder collaborative (Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy) through its formative phase. Other work with philanthropy has included strategic guidance in areas that include global corporate accountability, and purposeful business in the United States.


Clear and creative communications are a through-thread in everything I do. Examples of my writing and story-telling projects are here.