THE NATURAL STEP GERMANY

Meet the team, our network and what we stand for

In June 2016, The Natural Step Germany was established in Planegg near Munich. The German branch teams up with the other country offices. Furthermore, we closely collaborate with members of our partner network, including thought leaders, universities, think tanks, research institutes, governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and academic and business experts around the world. The international offices and associates of The Natural Step share the same globally recognised brand, core identity, vision and purpose.

Since 1989, the people at The Natural Step have been passionate about helping other individuals and organisations of all kinds to experience success in creating a sustainable world. As a non-profit NGO with Swedish roots, founded by Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt, we have been at the forefront of sustainable development for almost 30 years now. The science-based framework that we employ has been used successfully in thousands of forward-thinking organisations around the world. Currently, The Natural Step has offices in 11 countries and numerous associates and ambassadors in over 50 countries.

We exist to drive change

OUR DRIVING FORCES

At The Natural Step’s country office in Germany, we are committed to the principles and values set out in the organisation’s international charter. Representing this globally recognised brand, we are very proud to nurture and develop the capacity and reputation of The Natural Step. Alongside an understanding of the sustainability challenge, our motivation comes from previous successes with transformational change and future collaboration to co-create even more inspiring innovative examples.

We want to drive change through education, dialogue, coaching and advice. Therefore we love to share our structured overview and deep expertise in sustainability, leadership and innovation with you! Our work is based on almost three decades of experience of helping organisations and individuals understand and accelerate change towards sustainability.

Do you want to know more? Please contact us and join our network.

Our team in Germany

At The Natural Step Germany, you can meet a highly motivated team of Advisors and Senior Advisors with expertise in strategic sustainability across many sectors and industries. We are a diverse group of committed people who enjoy collaborating and making a difference. Here you get to know us.

Dirk Uhlemann

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Dirk Uhlemann

Managing Director & Advisor
Tel. +49 89 212312141
dirk.uhlemann[at]thenaturalstep.de

“Since I can remember, I have always wanted to understand how things work. Having spent many years in fast-moving high-tech areas, I became challenged by two questions: How will our society and way of living be impacted by our exponential ambitions enabled through innovation? And secondly, how will future global society with a growing population, with its valid aspirations to live well, then look like? At The Natural Step, I have found the source, feeding my passion of contributing to a better future for all of us.”

Rüdiger Röhrig, Dipl. Ing.

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Rüdiger Röhrig, Dipl. Ing.

Director & Advisor
Tel. +49 89 212312142
ruediger.roehrig[at]thenaturalstep.de

“It was in 2012, when I first learned about The Natural Step. It really hit home! One just cannot deny the power of systems thinking, the clarity of the underlying science and thus the obvious conclusions drawn by The Natural Step. Today, I’m so happy to be part of The Natural Step’s global family with its dedicated and experienced professionals, all striving for the same goal. It’s a rewarding experience to attract more and more decision makers to the idea of changing their organisation’s course towards becoming an innovative and future-fit enterprise that flourishes within nature’s and society’s limits.”

Edwin Janssen, M.Sc., BBA.

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Edwin Janssen, M.Sc., BBA.

Director & Advisor
Tel. +49 89 212312144
edwin.janssen[at]thenaturalstep.de

“For me, The Natural Step is a perfect platform for combining sustainability, disruptive innovation and business strategy to drive change and enable people and organisations to become fit for the future. It is great fun to learn, play and coach according to these relatively simple game rules, while actually solving global societal challenges.”

Dr. Thomas Riegler

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Dr. Thomas Riegler

Director & Advisor
Tel. +49 89 212312143
thomas.riegler[at]thenaturalstep.de

“Ever since my childhood, I have undertaken extensive outdoor activities and admire the miracles of nature, with great awareness of the natural boundaries. Sustainability is deeply anchored in my mind, personal interests and attitude. The day I came into contact with The Natural Step’s Framework, I was immediately persuaded by it. The underlying science, the systems approach and the sustainability principles have the power to transform our society into a flourishing and sustainable world. It is a great pleasure to be part of The Natural Step family, working together with exceptional like-minded people who all strive for the same larger purpose.”

Gabriele Sorg

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Gabriele Sorg

Manager Communications & PR
Tel. +49 89 212312145
gabriele.sorg[at]thenaturalstep.de

“When I was asked to join The Natural Step Germany, I was surprised that a truly science-based approach and procedure can be this pragmatic, leading to measurable results that will help us and our planet to survive. I feel honoured to be part of the multi-cultural team here in Germany. The sustainability challenge we are facing is highly complex, but in our communication we will make the complicated as simple as possible. If we succeed, we can create a real movement. Please join us!!”

official membership
official membership

In mid-June 2016, at the occasion of an advanced 3-day training programme in Nesselwang, the German team signed the official membership contract with The Natural Step International represented by Matthias Müller. From left to right: Edwin Janssen, Matthias Müller (The Natural Step Switzerland, S2), Dr. Thomas Riegler, Dirk Uhlemann and Rüdiger Röhrig.

Do you want to know more about how to join our team and network?

Our vision, purpose and strategic focus

VISION

Our vision is a world in which people’s basic human needs can be satisfied and where societies and organisations can prosper within nature’s limits.

To operate in line with the scientific wording of The Natural Step’s Framework, we envision a sustainable society in which nature is not subject to systematically increasing:

  • concentrations of substances from the Earth’s crust;
  • concentrations of substances produced by society;
  • degradation of the biocapacity by physical means;
  • and a society in which people are not subject to structural obstacles to health, influence, competence, impartiality and meaning-making.

MISSION AND PURPOSE

Our mission is to accelerate the transformation towards sustainability.

Our core purpose is to develop and promote a genuine commitment to and competence in sustainability thinking, behaviour and actions throughout society. We use The Natural Step’s Framework as our unique systems approach for research, planning, facilitation, training, coaching, consultation, competence building, dialogue and decision-making.

STRATEGIC FOCUS

At The Natural Step Germany, we connect and align individuals with organisations and the systems they are part of, to accelerate change towards a sustainable future for all. Therefore, The Natural Step seeks to work with leaders and role models who can inspire and lead innovative examples of transformational change. Our solutions and projects are based on sound science, including the social and organisational theory of change. Our strategic focus:

  • To enable decision makers to manage complexity, define their future position and seize opportunities for short- and long-term success and value growth.
  • To strengthen scientific insights with whole-systems thinking and by bridging theory with down-to-earth practical application to enable upscaling and acceleration of positive impact
  • To provide platforms for dialogue and stimulate co-creation with organisations and businesses in Germany who are ready to address humanity’s grand challenges.
  • To accelerate the transition to a sustainable society within and outside Germany.

Our guiding principles and core values

At The Natural Step Germany, we share and live these guiding principles and core values:

  • Our methods and projects are informed by The Natural Step’s Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD) and firmly based on sound science and theories of social and organisational change.
  • We strive to be a learning organisation with considerable freedom for individuals, different approaches and initiatives.
  • In making choices we aim to do what’s best for society and the broader good. We are honest and ethical in what we do.
  • We are non-adversarial in our approach and always respect other people’s views. Therefore, we have no affiliations to political parties or religions, but believe in The Golden Rule or “law of reciprocity”: the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself.
  • Our task is to seek, teach and apply scientifically-based principles that we call “sustainability principles”, serving as common denominators for different cultures. At the same time, we acknowledge that, for many people, the environment is as much about deep feelings and connections with the human spirit and with indigenous cultures as it is about logic and reason.
  • We push ourselves to think critically and creatively about all that we do, approaching each issue and opportunity with rigour and constantly looking for new, innovative ways of achieving high-impact results and value creation in pursuit of transformative change.
  • We are committed to the encouragement of continuous learning as an organisation and in our work with others. We learn from our mistakes, as well as from our successes, and share them openly and actively with each other.
  • We aspire to achieve the highest social and environmental standards in all that we do, ensuring that we can “walk the talk” in all our operations.
  • We are an open, inclusive, sharing organisation that believes in transparency.
  • We look for opportunities to collaborate and partner with others in order to strengthen our efforts and maximise our impact.

Our core areas of work

STARTING THE TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY IN GERMANY

At The Natural Step Germany, we seek to work with individuals and organisations who want to become leaders and role models on a joint transformation journey towards sustainability. We actively contribute to value-driven growth within the limits given by our planet, having our sustainability principles always in mind. We inspire, train, facilitate, coach, research, analyse, advise and publish in three core areas in order to live our purpose and accelerate towards our vision:

  • Empowering individuals to become effective change agents for sustainability
  • Creating future-fit organisations, including their processes, products and business models as leading examples of sustainable communities and businesses
  • Facilitating systems change towards future-fitness by delivering breakthrough results that make whole systems truly sustainable.

Our logic of change

Collaboration

Our beautiful but fragile planet needs change and action. Why is that so? To know more please have a look at our chapter challenge.

How can we face the sustainability challenge all together? To learn more please have a look at our approach, solution, or please go directly to our offerings.

Our knowledge pool

At The Natural Step Germany, we consequently use the concentrated knowledge and reach of our international organisation to build leadership capacity, and prototype and test innovative systems-changing solutions. As we are proactively participating in a global learning network of sustainability leaders and practitioners, our partners and clients in Germany gain access to the most recent insights concerning the application of our framework.

You want to know more? Then please have a look at the other parts of our website and our videos. Here you will find a selection, but more videos are available on our YouTube channel.

Our history

THE EARLY DAYS

In 1989, Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt, a Swedish cancer scientist, wrote and circulated a paper on the root causes of unsustainability to 50 scientists, asking for their input. The extensive process that followed involved in total 22 versions, before the multi-disciplinary scientists reached a consensus on what was to become The Natural Step’s Framework. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gave his endorsement to their consensus report and Dr Robèrt founded The Natural Step in Sweden.

He continued developing the framework. Based on this, he derived an educational concept for 4.5 million Swedish households and students, making them familiar with the basics of sustainability in relation to health and societal issues. This project changed the Swedish nation’s way of life remarkably, aligning it with the laws of nature. Since then, Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt and The Natural Step have been known as sustainability catalysts and pioneers.

ABOUT THE FOUNDER

Professor Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt, MD, born in 1947, is one of Sweden’s foremost paediatric oncologists and a pioneer of the worldwide sustainability movement. As director of research at the Karolinska Institute, he conducted research and lectured on various forms of cancer. From his studies of cancerous cells, he realised that human cells and plant cells are almost identical. His focus on toxins and their health implications led him to a systems perspective on future health.

His studies also made him realise that cancer rates and other threats to global health would only decrease with decreasing concentrations of pollutants and other unsustainable mechanisms. Besides having founded The Natural Step, he has served on the faculties of many of Sweden’s most prestigious hospitals and universities including Huddinge University Hospital, Karolinska Institute, the Chalmers Institute of Technology, and Blekinge Institute of Technology.

In 1999, Dr. Robèrt won the Green Cross Award for International Leadership and, in 2000, the Blue Planet Prize, often considered the “Nobel Prize” for ecological sustainability. In 2006, he was included in the publication “100 Visionaries of the 20th Century” and, in 2009, he had the prestigious honour of being named an Ashoka Fellow. He has published numerous books and articles on the subject of the environment and sustainability, among them “The Natural Step Story”. His peer-reviewed scientific articles have been published in various scientific journals including the Journal for Cleaner Production. The photos below show him together with the Swedish King, Carl XVI Gustaf, and in intense discussions with the German team at a sustainability conference in Sweden in February 2016.

Stegvis event in Stockholm in February 2016: Dr Karl-Henrik Robert as keynote speaker and together with H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Stegvis event in Stockholm in February 2016: Dr Karl-Henrik Robert as keynote speaker and together with H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

Both images show the Stepwise event in Stockholm in February 2016: Dr Karl-Henrik Robert as keynote speaker (left) and together with H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (right).

Going global

THE NATURAL STEP’S INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Dr Robèrt systematically involved like-minded people and initiatives, e.g. the World Wildlife Fund, WWF and Greenpeace. He successfully nurtured what had begun as a grassroots effort in Sweden into an international movement. The academic consensus process has been repeated in the USA and in Australia. The process in the USA was initiated by Paul Hawken, a well-known environmentalist, entrepreneur and author of bestsellers like “The Ecology of Commerce” and Natural Capitalism.

Since its foundation in 1989, thousands of organisations, municipalities, ecovillages, universities, NGOs, schools, communities and businesses around the world have used the Natural Step Framework. Hundreds of individuals and organisations of all kinds have succeeded in creating leading examples of sustainable transformation.

The Natural Step takes a pivotal role in implementation, creating real impact. For almost 30 years, we have worked with businesses, including such well-known brands as Nike, Interface, Max, IKEA, Scandic Hotels, Philips and Electrolux, to help pioneer sustainable solutions and transform their organisations into leaders in their industries.

About our network

OUR ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE IN GERMANY

The Natural Step Germany as a non-profit non-governmental organisation (NGO) is in the process of inception. Currently, Sustainable Growth Associates is hosting The Natural Step Germany and formalising its independent legal structure. Sustainable Growth Associates GmbH, a certified B Corporation (B Corp), is a member, representative and licensee of The Natural Step and its globally recognised brand.

OUR NETWORK AND PARTNERS

We have a broad global network of institutes, organisations and universities we partner with. Referring also to our core values, we would love to expand our network. The list below, an excerpt of our current network, gives you an idea of whom we are cooperating with:

When you are also interested in becoming a partner, then please stay tuned for updates and get in touch with us!

Please get in touch with us!

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