Sustainability transition labs

Breakthrough solutions from innovating together

We live in a time of great uncertainty, complexity, and unprecedented systemic challenges. There is growing recognition that addressing complex sustainability challenges requires unprecedented collaboration and new ways of working across sectors and across scales. This is what a Sustainable Transition Lab is all about!

The Sustainability Transition Lab is an approach to tackling these complex social and environmental challenges.

It blends The Natural Step’s expertise in designing and facilitating transformational change towards sustainability with leading approaches to multi-stakeholder collaboration.

The process is intended to foster deep learning and bold action, unconventional partnerships and collaboration in a group of diverse stakeholders to tackle “wicked” sustainability challenges and create breakthrough solutions by learning to think, work, and innovate together differently.

We aim to demonstrate that new insights and opportunities will arise when we integrate the core concepts and our application approaches of the Natural Step’s Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, FSSD, with approaches like Change Lab, Collective Impact, Design Thinking, and Theory U.

Sustainability Transition Labs differ considerably depending on the challenge, scope, scale, priorities and sector or industry your organisation operates in. However, there are certain generic elements and four core phases.

Offering Pre Transition Lab

Getting perfectly prepared

We identify and scope the challenge, secure potential partners and resources, and design the phases and tasks.


A committed core team with a defined challenge.

Offering Transition Lab Phase 1

Shared Value of Collaboration

We conduct in-depth interviews, map the existing initiatives and build a shared language within the core team.


Clarified key goals based on shared values.

Offering Transition Lab Phase 2

Building Shared Priorities

We conduct experimental learning journeys, map the system, identify leverage points and backcast from a shared vision of success.


Identified and prioritised collaborative initiatives

Offering Transition Lab Phase 3

Collaborative Initiatives

We implement a portfolio of aligned activities, formalise partnerships, and develop shared measuring systems and prototype projects.


Breakthrough results which shift the system.


Based on the general structure explained above, The Natural Step’s project leaders and the core team specify a design to the particular organisations and conditions involved. The phased approach honours the need for the participating organisations to continuously assess the value of their participation. The group needs to make considered decisions on where they want to go together and what they want to define as success.

Our services

Concept, process design, execution of the labs, including moderation, framework organisation, work materials etc. Of course all services are guided by The Natural Step’s “Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development”, FSSD.


Municipalities, communities, cities, regions, public and private organisations, non-profit organisations and businesses.

Case examples

Together with our International colleagues various successful Sustainable Transition Labs have been set up across the globe. Examples of active labs include:

Previous examples of Labs include:

  • Future Fit Business Benchmark (Canada, Sweden, Germany, New Zeeland);
  • Social sustainability Lab (Sweden);
  • Natural Capital Lab (Canada);
  • Housing performance lab (The Netherlands);
  • Is there meat in a sustainable society? (Sweden); Biodiversity lab.
Sustainability Transition Lab
Sustainability Transition Lab
Sustainability Transition Lab
Sustainability Transition Lab

Ready to know more about our programmes?