The Natural Step Germany
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The Natural Step International
Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, The Natural Step, Anna Borgeryd, Polarbröd, and the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf, attending the event “StegVis – The Future of Leadership is Now” in Stockholm, February 2016
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The Natural Step
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The opening of the funnel
At The Natural Step Germany, we define sustainable development as a strategic mission to eliminate society’s unsustainable systemic errors (1). We need to create a sustainable society (2), stabilising the resources and structures available. The clear goal: to make it to the opening of the funnel, where the opportunities for prosperity have stopped declining. A potential next step is to become regenerative (3).
From reductionism to whole-systems thinking – nested interdependence
By changing from reductionism to a whole-systems thinking, we recognise the interdependence of the environment, society and the economy. There is no thriving economy without society, and no society without the environment. It is a very complex ecosystem that we depend upon.
Backcasting from sustainability principles
At The Natural Step Germany, we use backcasting from sustainability principles as an effective way to handle our complex challenges. The ABCD process helps us to find intelligent and innovative solutions, leading us towards the future we want and to a sustainable competitive advantage.
Here you’ll find a selection of videos. In addition, The Natural Step Germany has its own YouTube channel, providing more information on sustainability issues and our organisation. www.youtube.com/channel/UCDs6vud1RY5-kjQZvrqyLgg
The Natural Step
What are The Natural Step’s key principles for sustainability?
Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt, founder of The Natural Step, explains the Sustainability Principles in his typical way.
The Natural Step and sustainability explained in 2 minutes
This video uses wording that anyone can easily understand and explains The Natural Step and core sustainability topics in just two minutes.
The sustainability journey
This video is part of The Natural Step’s new e-learning offerings, an introductory online course programme on sustainability and sustainable development.
About The Natural Step Germany
Since mid-2016, The Natural Step Germany has been part of the international organisation with offices in many European countries, North America and Asia. Our first German office is located in Planegg near Munich.
We are a leading partner for organisations and individuals ready to address humanity’s grand challenges for creating a better future. We offer solutions proven in practice and enable decision makers to manage complexity and seize opportunities for short- and long-term success.
Since 1989, the people at The Natural Step have been passionate about helping individuals and organisations to experience success in creating a sustainable world. As a non-profit organisation with Swedish roots, founded by Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, we have been at the forefront of sustainable development for almost 30 years now.
Based on whole-systems thinking, we interconnect the various dimensions of the challenge that affects everyone, everywhere. Our science-based framework has been successfully applied 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.
To find out more, please have a look at our chapter ABOUT.
Frequently asked questions
Who is The Natural Step?
The Natural Step is a non-profit organisation with Swedish roots, founded by Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt in 1989. Based on whole-systems thinking, The Natural Step’s science-based framework has been successfully applied in thousands of forward-thinking organisations around the world. The Natural Step has been at the forefront of sustainable development for almost 30 years now. For more information please have a look at our chapter ABOUT.
Who founded The Natural Step?
The Natural Step was founded by Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt, one of Sweden’s foremost paediatric oncologists and a pioneer of the worldwide sustainability movement. Besides having founded The Natural Step, he has served on the faculties of many of Sweden’s most prestigious hospitals and universities including Karolinska Institute and Blekinge Institute of Technology. Dr Robèrt systematically involved like-minded people and initiatives and is still very active in The Natural Step’s international organisation. To find out more, please have a look at our history.
How did The Natural Step get started?
In 1989, Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt 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. Since then, Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt and The Natural Step have been known as sustainability catalysts and pioneers. To find out more, please have a look at our history.
Who is The Natural Step Germany?
Since June 2016, The Natural Step Germany has been the German branch of The Natural Step’s international organisation with offices located in Planegg near Munich. The German branch, founded by Sustainable Growth Associates GmbH, a certified B Corp, teams up with the other country offices and closely collaborates with the global partner network around the world. Like the other international offices and associates of The Natural Step, the German organisation shares the same globally recognised brand, core identity, vision and purpose. For more information, please browse our website. You might want to start with our chapter ABOUT.
What are The Natural Step’s core values?
The Natural Step Germany shares and lives the same core values as The Natural Step International and its offices and associates around the globe. All 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 are a learning organisation, non-adversarial, open and inclusive, strongly believing in transparency and in the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself. For further details, please have a look at our guiding principles and core values.
What are The Natural Step’s vision, mission and purpose?
Vision: A world in which people’s basic human needs can be satisfied and where societies and organisations can prosper within nature’s limits and without violating the Sustainability Principles. Mission: To accelerate the transformation towards sustainability. Purpose: To develop and promote a genuine commitment to and competence in sustainability thinking, behaviour and actions throughout society. For further details, please have a look at our vision, purpose and strategic focus.
How is The Natural Step organised?
The Natural Step is a global network of non-profit organisations, currently with offices in 11 countries and numerous associates and ambassadors in over 50 countries. The Natural Step Germany is part of Sustainable Growth Associates, a certified B Corp, soon to be set up as a separate non-profit legal entity. To find out more, please browse our chapter ABOUT.
Where can I find out where The Natural Step is located?
The Natural Step Germany’s office is located in Planegg near Munich. To find out where all the other offices are located, please have a look at our CONTACT page.
About our approach and solution
What is the challenge?
The grand sustainability challenge we are facing is to preserve the life-supporting systems we depend upon and to stop the trend of degradation. Developments in recent centuries have brought us progress, but at the same time our planet has grown ill and its societal problems have been continuing. Solving one problem often leads to causing another one later or somewhere else. It is a fact that the global challenges and risks affect everyone, everywhere. At The Natural Step Germany, we consequently include environmental, societal, economic, geopolitical and technological challenges and risks. It is crucial to understand the interconnections between them. To find out more, please browse our chapter CHALLENGE.
What is the funnel paradigm?
The Natural Step uses the funnel metaphor for visualising that trends are moving into a state with abnormal fluctuations, crossing the tipping points of safe operating space. The narrowing funnel recognises that problems caused by errors in societal design have complex interrelations and are systematically weakening society’s support systems with unknown knock-on effects. Some of these effects are irreversible, such as the extinction of current species and various forms of pollution and toxicity. This can be illustrated as collisions with the walls of the funnel. The deeper we enter the funnel, and the more the walls narrow, the more constrained, limited and unpleasant are our available options to solve the problems. To find out more, please have a look at our chapter CHALLENGE, especially the funnel as the base for diagnosis.
What is The Natural Step’s systems view?
The Natural Step’s systemic view and approach make complexity simple, but not too simple. We do not leave relevant aspects out. The systems view bridges science with political strategies, entrepreneurial goals and day-to-day reality. To win the sustainability game, it is extremely important to apply such a systems view and to define sustainable development as a strategic mission. For this purpose, The Natural Step applies its Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD). For more information please browse our chapter APPROACH.
What is The Natural Step’s framework?
The Natural Step’s Framework for Strategic Sustainable development (FSSD) is a conceptual framework for structuring information in a way that makes it useful for planning and decision-making in a complex system. The Framework distinguishes five distinct but interrelated levels: systems level, success level, strategic level, actions level and tools level. The Framework has been designed for an understanding of all levels and connections among them simultaneously. To find out more about it, please browse our chapter APPROACH.
What is sustainable development?
In 1987, the Brundtland Commission, formally known as the “World Commission on Environment and Development” (WCED), published “The Brundtland Report” that introduced sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The Natural Step applies this definition, considering that strategies for sustainable development always have to do with people who want to have their basic human needs met. For further details, please have a look at our chapter SOLUTION.
What is backcasting from sustainability principles?
Backcasting, exactly the opposite of forecasting, is a process for planning strategically and successfully towards a sustainable future. It is a proven step-by-step method that begins with the end in mind. From the vision of success, we move backwards to the present, carrying out an analysis of the present conditions so that we better understand our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Keeping the wanted results in mind, we start moving towards our future vision. At The Natural Step, we apply backcasting from sustainability principles as we go through the ABCD process, an effective way to handle complex challenges, leading us towards the future we want and to a sustainable competitive advantage. For further details, please have a look at our chapter SOLUTION.
How do we drive change?
At The Natural Step Germany, we believe that the transition to a sustainable society begins by increasing awareness, commitment and competence in individuals to help them understand the meaning of sustainability. Integrating the sustainability principles into their decision-making and actions is crucial for success. Therefore, we connect and align individuals with organisations and the systems they are part of to accelerate change towards a sustainable future for all. We speed up change, e.g. by empowering individuals to become effective change agents for sustainability and by creating future-fit organisations as leading examples of sustainable communities and businesses.
To find out more, please have a look at our SOLUTION.
How can I support The Natural Step Germany?
There are lots of ways to support us! The Natural Step Germany offers all you need to create a better future and to take intelligent, step-by-step action. Please browse our website to see what we offer and what we are working on. You can also become a financial supporter. Please contact us!