Publications & Reports

Well worth reading

At The Natural Step Germany, we have access to the most recent inspiring publications, reports, books and features covering sustainability, sustainable development, value-driven leadership and entrepreneurship driving change. The selection you find here today is to be updated.

Recently published reports & guidebooks

world economic forum
global risks report 2016

Insight Report
2nd Edition (Every 5 years)
The full report, lighter versions and a short video are available at


“In 2017, the industry was worth more than US dollars 5 trillion. By 2030, this will double.” … “Large quantities of hazardous chemicals and pollutants continue to leak into the environment, contaminating food chains and accumulating in our bodies, where they do serious damage. Estimates by the European Environment Agency suggest that 62 per cent of the volume of chemicals consumed in Europe in 2016 were hazardous to health.” … “Solutions do exist, as the report shows. Sustainable supply chain management, innovations in green and sustainable chemistry, and adopting common approaches to chemicals management can reduce the risks to human health, ecosystems and economies. But a solution is only as good as the will to implement it. Now, more than ever, key influencers such as investors, producers, retailers, citizens, academics and ministers must act. We have the chance to do what needs to be done. We are implementing the 2030 Agenda and developing a future framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020. We cannot live without chemicals. Nor can we live with the consequences of their bad management. My hope is that this Outlook inspires us all to increase our efforts to safely capture the benefits of chemistry for all humanity.”

world economic forum
global risks report 2016

Insight Report
13th Edition
The report and an interactive data platform are available at


“In our annual Global Risks Perception Survey, environmental risks have grown in prominence in recent years. This trend has continued this year, with all five risks in the environmental category being ranked higher than average for both likelihood and impact over a 10-year horizon. This follows a year characterized by high-impact hurricanes, extreme temperatures and the first rise in CO2 emissions for four years. We have been pushing our planet to the brink and the damage is becoming increasingly clear. Biodiversity is being lost at mass-extinction rates, agricultural systems are under strain and pollution of the air and sea has become an increasingly pressing threat to human health. A trend towards nation-state unilateralism may make it more difficult to sustain the long-term, multilateral responses that are required to counter global warming and the degradation of the global environment.”

unep youthxchange green skills

UNEP/UNESCO Thematic Guidebook
Green Skills and Lifestyles Guidebook


There are very few youth-friendly publications that explore the relationship between biodiversity and our lifestyles. This guidebook helps youth to develop essential skills while engaging with biodiversity.

It has been designed to help young people familiarise themselves with the green economy and skills needed for a green economy.

The YouthXchange Green Skills and Lifestyles Guidebook is the second in a series of thematic guidebooks supporting the UNEP/UNESCO YouthXchange (YXC) Initiative. It is available in various languages.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

Federal Ministry of Education and Research


With FONA³, the new, third framework programme on research for sustainable development, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is playing its part in underpinning science’s obligation to shoulder this responsibility. Under FONA³, sustainability research aims to highlight options for a sustainable lifestyle and economic framework.

FONA³ will serve to incorporate sustainability research more closely in the public forum, thereby increasing its relevance to sustainable development.

The programme encompasses research and innovation policy objectives, flagship initiatives for sustainability in Germany and how to face global challenges together, i.e. closely cooperating at the European and international levels. The Framework Programme is available in English and German.

Our BOOK recommendations

sustainability handbook


Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Founder of the Natural Step, Goran Broman, David Waldron, Henrik Ny and several more contributors


Today’s society faces interrelated socio-ecological challenges. In order to adequately negotiate this sustainability challenge and seize the innovation opportunities that come with it, we need professionals from all sectors who can help plan, act, and lead strategically towards sustainability.

The Sustainability Handbook first outlines a structured approach to planning within this complex challenge, which is known as The Natural Step’s “Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development”, FSSD. It provides fundamental social and ecological knowledge from which a scientifically-derived definition of sustainability has been established.

From there, the book shares examples of how The Natural Step’s Framework can be applied in a variety of situations, sectors and scales and draws attention to the self-benefit for companies, municipalities and other organisations of working strategically for sustainability. The readers are left with a solid understanding of how to define sustainability, how to plan and act towards it and how to select from the vast array of sustainability-related concepts, methods and tools.

The handbook combines The Natural Step’s academic and practical experience, interpreted and explained by various authors. Any student or practitioner looking for more clarity on how to strategically plan and act towards sustainability in a structured, scientific and collaborative manner will find value inside. Because of the generic nature of The Natural Step’s Framework, it can be useful for any discipline, from engineering and product-service innovation to business management, urban and regional planning, and beyond.


confessions of a radical industrialist

Profits, People, Purpose – Doing Business by Respecting the Earth
Ray C. Anderson, Founder and Chairman of Interface, together with Robin White


In 1994, Ray Anderson set an ambitious goal for his commercial carpet company: to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth. In one of the most inspiring business books of our time, Anderson leads the way forward and tells a compelling story. Making carpets was a toxic, petroleum-based process, releasing immense amounts of air and water pollution and creating tons of waste. Fifteen years later Interface has cut: greenhouse gas emissions by 82 per cent, fossil fuel consumption by 60 per cent, waste by 66 per cent and water use by 75 per cent. Interface invented and patented new machines, materials and manufacturing processes. The company increased sales by 66 per cent, doubled earnings and raised profit margins.

Ray Anderson closely collaborated with The Natural Step for many years to achieve these goals. He died on 8 August 2011, twenty months after being diagnosed with cancer. Please have a look at our Interface Case Study as well.

mid course correction

Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model
Ray C. Anderson


Mid-Course Correction is a business book about the environment that’s written from a personal perspective. With passion and pride, Ray Anderson, Founder, Chairman and CEO of one of the world’s largest interior furnishings companies, recounts his awakening to the importance of environmental issues. He outlines the steps his petroleum-dependent company, Atlanta-based Interface, Inc., is taking in its quest to become a sustainable enterprise, one that will never have to take another drop of oil from the Earth. Thought-provoking and thoughtful, Anderson’s story is told from the heart.

“What we need today, more than anything else, is intelligent, passionate and proactive leaders in business, who are bold enough to start demonstrating that sustainability in business pays. Ray Anderson is one of those. In his eyes, sustainable development in business is not only necessary, it is attractive.” Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Chairman and Founder of The Natural Step.

walking a twin path

Walking a Twin-Path
Dorothea Ernst, published November 2015


“All people live well within the limits of the planet.” How can we achieve this bold ambition? This book provides insights and tools for anyone driving sustainable development within organisations and in their own lives. Discover how you can consciously use your professional role as a source of change. Learn how the consistent use of meaningful visuals enables generative dialogue and communication for aligned problem-solving within multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder teams. See how personal mastery can guide you in identifying the contribution you can make, both towards wider goals and your individual well-being.

On this journey, meaning-making is essential. In organisations, co-creation of a shared language and an understanding of disruptive innovation are fundamental to successful transformation. In exploring these topics, Dorothea’s book builds on a set of core concepts: Rogers’ innovation diffusion curve, the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) expanded with a fourth “P” (for “personal” = the individual), and the WWF “ice-breaker” graph which maps the environmental footprint against the human development index.

Dorothea Ernst has closely collaborated with The Natural Step for many years in her function as Senior Director Sustainability at Philips Corporate Technologies till 2011. Today, she is a member of The Natural Step’s Advisory Board.

the new sustainability advantage

Bob Willard


This book shows that if a typical company were to use best-practice sustainability approaches already being used by real companies, it could improve its profit by at least 51 to 81 per cent within three to five years, while avoiding a potential 16 to 36 per cent erosion of profits if it did nothing. The fully revised business case is organised around seven easy-to-grasp bottom-line benefits that align with current evidence about the most significant sustainability-related contributors to profit.

  1. Increase revenue.
  2. Reduce energy expenses.
  3. Reduce waste expenses.
  4. Reduce materials and water expenses.
  5. Increase employee productivity.
  6. Reduce hiring and attrition expenses.
  7. Reduce strategic and operational risks.

The Natural Step and Bob Willard, now as Board Member of the Future-Fit Foundation, have been business partners for many years. For 12 years, he was a Board Member of The Natural Step Canada as well.

the sustainability champion's guidebook

Bob Willard


This practical, easy-to-follow guidebook helps sustainability champions at any level in a company lead a transformation to a smarter, more successful and more sustainable enterprise. It is exceptionally easy to use, read and consult. Each tip is self-contained within two pages. A change tip is presented on one page with a supporting sidebar or figure on its opposite page. It is organised around four frameworks for easy reference: a seven-step sustainability change process, seven leadership practices to use during the change process, seven paradoxes that complement the seven leadership practices and seven derailments to avoid.

This book is an indispensable tool for sustainability champions who are transforming their companies into more sustainable enterprises. Bob Willard has been a trusted partner of The Natural Step for more than two decades.

the fifth discipline

The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization
Peter M. Senge


Peter Senge’s bestselling classic is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. His key message: In the long run, the only sustainable competitive advantage is an organisation’s ability to learn faster than its competitors.

Senge describes how companies can get rid of the learning disabilities that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organisations. They become organisations in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free and people are continually learning how to create results they truly desire.

The updated and revised edition contains over one hundred pages of new material based on interviews with dozens of practitioners at companies like BP, Unilever, Intel, Ford, HP, Saudi Aramco and organisations like Roca, Oxfam and The World Bank. It features a new Foreword about the success Peter Senge has achieved with learning organisations since the book’s inception as well as new chapters on Impetus (getting started), Strategies, Leaders’ New Work, Systems Citizens and Frontiers for the Future. The book is available in German as well.

shopping for good

Dara O’Rourke


How effective has the ethical consumption movement been in changing market behaviour? Can consumers create fair and sustainable supply chains by shopping selectively? The promise of ethical consumption is about the idea that individuals, voting with their wallets, can promote better labour conditions and environmental outcomes globally.

Consumers who say they want to support ethical companies often lack the knowledge and resources to do so consistently. But with the right tools they may be able to succeed. NGOs like The Natural Step have always played a decisive role in accelerating change towards ethical consumption. This little book shows many examples of how non-profit organisations help to monitor and enforce compliance with global standards and how to achieve supply chain improvements.

sustainability principles and practice

Margaret Robertson


This textbook gives an accessible and comprehensive overview of the interdisciplinary field of sustainability. The focus is on furnishing solutions and equipping with both conceptual understanding and technical skills for the workplace.

Each chapter explores one aspect of the field, first introducing relevant theory and presenting issues, then supplying tools for working towards solutions. Elements of sustainability are examined piece by piece, and wide coverage ranges over ecosystems, social equity, environmental justice, food, energy, product life cycles, cities and more.

Techniques for management and measurement, as well as case studies from around the world are provided.

Meet the team behind The Natural Step Germany!