Research & advice

Science-based insights in practice

The Natural Step Germany offers comprehensive research services and advice relating to environmental and sustainability issues. Our research findings are science-based and a huge source of information for all those who wish to drive change towards sustainability, whether in politics, municipalities, industry or in the media. We provide the knowledge for your transformation journey towards sustainability.

Our experienced market research associates conduct primary and secondary research in the area of sustainability and related themes. Our research results are reliable, relevant and based on the latest market data presently available. We use them to proactively support decision-makers and multipliers with facts, figures and insights whenever it comes to sustainability and its enormous potential for driving real change.

Our research portfolio


The Natural Step has been growing organically around the globe for almost 30 years now. Long-term partnerships and close consultation with renowned scientific institutes, ministries and universities are key elements for our desk research approach. As a consequence, we are highly familiar with the best sources currently available for sustainability-related data and burning issues.

We can easily and rapidly access the most relevant databases, archives, statistics and scientific research results, irrespective where the primary data have been collected. We interpret the captured information by applying our systems approach and with our sustainability principles always in mind.

Furthermore, we verify crucial data in every detail, analysing and discussing them with our internal experts and associated specialists. This way we can communicate insights that are otherwise difficult to grasp and make intelligent solutions possible.

Recent secondary research contributions related to the UN Global Chemicals Outlook II. This landmark study (Full report contains 700 pages, but short video and summaries are available) highlights an alarming picture about the unintended consequences of society’s use of chemicals and takes a look at past, current and future approaches, practices and initiatives to accelerate.

You want to know more about our secondary research activities?



In Germany, The Natural Step’s primary research projects generally gather two types of information: exploratory or highly specific. Almost any other information can be collected as a result of secondary research, smart networking and validation loops.

Primary research projects usually help our clients to find solutions for complex unsolved problems, be they related to global, local or internal research questions. Quite often, they deal with fundamental changes within a defined industry, region or organisation. Other studies focus on missing insights and address very specific targets, e.g. that of accelerating ethical consumption.

Before starting, we advise you on the best study design and develop a tailored research strategy, including the selection of the most appropriate research methods and tools. We usually prepare our study findings in consultation with the client, placing great value on drawing useful conclusions and recommendations. Very often, primary research activities are part of transformation programmes.

Recently, we have been conducting research for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Research topics include:

  • What does the global landscape of sustainable chemicals-related planning and decision-making tools look like?
  • How would principles for green and sustainable chemicals management look like?
  • How do existing tools and concepts (e.g. LCAs, Green Chemistry principles, Blue Angel, etc.) in different industries (agriculture, construction, toys, electronics, relate to full sustainability-oriented chemicals management?
  • How could we leverage such principles for the construction industry and materials in emerging economies?
  • How could corporate sustainability reporting and its mechanisms be used for reporting on chemicals and waste related UN SDGs?

Apart from studies for our clients, we design and conduct initiative studies on burning issues in the field of sustainability. Selected research questions and study items we are currently discussing:

  • What does social sustainability mean in Germany, one of the richest countries in the world?
  • How can we foster sustainable urban development in Germany?
  • What is ethical consumption in Germany? How do we define and measure ethical consumption in this country in different social and economic contexts?
  • What are the implications of demographic change and migration for social sustainability and wellbeing in German cities and rural regions?
  • How does technological, social, institutional and cultural innovation in the community and public sectors accelerate change toward sustainability?
  • How do German medium-sized companies understand sustainable entrepreneurship?

What are your research hot topics? What about a cooperative study?
Please join our discussion and contact us!

Scientific advice to accelerate change

Based on interdisciplinary research on sustainability issues, The Natural Step Germany provides scientific advice to support sustainable development in key areas. Whether these are directors, supervisors, board members, CEOs, investors or stakeholders, whether they are involved in politics, NGOs, businesses, or media: The Natural Step Germany helps decision-makers, opinion leaders and multipliers to put sustainability at the heart of their agenda.

To guide you through our framework and familiarise you with our methodology, processes and tools, please have a look at our moderation and coaching services.

Ready to know more about our offerings?