The Natural Step has a long track record of working with governments, municipalities, universities, schools, NGOs and companies to help them become sustainability leaders. Supporting the emergence of role model organisations that inspire others is a key part of our mission. Over the years, we have worked with thousands of people in hundreds of organisations around the world, from small municipalities to Fortune 500 firms. Our approach is fun, dynamic, engaging and interactive. Above all, we ensure that our clients get results. All our transformation programmes are based on The Natural Step’s “Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development”, FSSD.
For business transformation programmes, sustainable strategies, sustainable innovation, leadership development or quick-scans and such, please refer to our trusted partner for business: Sustainable Growth Associates.
CREATING SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
HOW TO DEVELOP SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES AND ORGANISATIONS
Our services help municipal governments plan for long-term sustainability and resilience. They show how to embed sustainability into the community’s culture and operations. We explain and illustrate why it is so important to engage community stakeholders in regional and local sustainability plans.
At The Natural Step Germany, we suggest implementing three different cycles, each one focusing on a core issue. The results are used to drive change towards a more sustainable social system and a better quality of life in the whole community.
Key question: how can our municipal government embrace sustainability and set an example for the whole community?
Key question: how can we achieve sustainability and resilience for our community and our citizens in the long term?
Key question: how can we motivate and empower community stakeholders to lead change towards truly sustainable development?
CYCLE I: EMBRACE SUSTAINABILITY AND SET EXAMPLES
WHAT IS THE OVERALL CHALLENGE FOR MUNICIPALITIES?
It’s first of all about recognising the imperative of sustainability and the value that it can bring to municipal government. At The Natural Step Germany, we observe that sustainability is still an add-on in local politics, rather than a maxim for action in the community. Your local government may have developed a sustainability plan already. Your mayor may communicate a strong commitment to sustainability whenever it’s appropriate. However, the risk is evident that action and measures are not taken from a systems perspective and therefore become ineffective. What is required is an intelligent action plan so that true sustainability can be achieved. Usually, the huge potential of programmes and services based on sustainability has not yet been fully exploited.
By integrating sustainability into the very fabric of your municipal government, you can demonstrate leadership throughout the community and inspire stakeholders and organisations to support your sustainability plans.
The Natural Step Germany helps your municipal organisation embed sustainability into the following areas: governance and decision making, programmes and services, facilities and operations, people and team, and last but not least voice and relationships. In addition to working with our experienced advisers, you benefit from access to a growing network of municipal, community and corporate leaders who are tackling the sustainability challenge in Germany and around the globe.
Our Municipal Sustainability Assessment and Roadmap has been designed to enhance the understanding of sustainability on the municipal level and within your team. In the assessment, we take stock of current initiatives and gauge your readiness for sustainability-driven change. We also conduct an external scan of your stakeholders’ expectations. Based on this, we carry out a workshop with senior leaders to co-create a roadmap that is tailored to your municipality’s culture and unique situation.
OUR ROADMAP USUALLY COMPRISES THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES:
- Municipal sustainability value assessment
- Readiness and baseline assessment
- Corporate sustainability goals
- Roadmap and prototyping
- Ongoing implementation and learning
CYCLE II: ACHIEVE SUSTAINABILITY AND RESILIENCE
HOW TO EFFECTIVELY ENGAGE STAKEHOLDERS AND CITIZENS
Having recognised that sustainability is one of the greatest challenges of our time, you automatically understand that it will require intense and unprecedented collaboration among municipal governments, local businesses, community groups and other organisations. The common goal: to create a future we want for ourselves, our neighbours and future generations. How can you effectively engage community stakeholders and citizens in an ongoing dialogue on a desirable and sustainable future for the community? How can you develop a long-term plan that provides a strategic orientation and action to achieve that future?
The Natural Step Germany offers a Community Transformation Programme that has been designed to engage the whole community in a holistic and proactive process. The programme addresses regional and local sustainability challenges and helps to plan for a desirable and sustainable future. To ensure the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, we go through our ABCD process together.
With our Community Transformation Programme we provide guidance for the entire community. It is our methodology of choice for fostering the municipality’s development towards sustainability, including all municipal plans, policies and decisions. Please have a look at our case studies as well.
CYCLE III: EMPOWER STAKEHOLDERS TO LEAD CHANGE
HOW TO ACCELERATE CHANGE THROUGH ENGAGEMENT
Organisations and individuals within your community will recognise that a single group cannot achieve a sustainable community. Various groups and stakeholders, committed to accelerate change, need to integrate sustainability within their organisations and throughout the community. How can you bring these diverse groups together?
Build the capacity of community stakeholders to help them lead change towards sustainability. The Natural Step Germany provides a specialised leadership programme for community stakeholders, irrespective whether they are local businesses, organisations, community groups, concerned citizens or the municipal government itself. They come together with a shared commitment to sustainability leadership in their respective organisations and within the community. To empower a broad and powerful group of community stakeholders, we suggest proceeding in six phases:
Setting the stage and recruiting early adopters
Education and capacity building
Broadening community engagement
Continuing commitment and action
Monitoring and evaluation
IT’S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE
Going through our Community Transformation Programme, we involve a municipality or organisation in an intelligent, well-structured and ongoing process of engaging stakeholders in co-creating a vision of a sustainable future. We link this process to realistic planning and collaborative action taking place today. Making your transformation journey towards a sustainable future a great success strongly depends on the people involved, no matter whether they are senior leaders or highly motivated newbies. Participating in our competence development, everybody is able to become a sustainability leader.