…a sustainable society — one in which individuals, communities, businesses and institutions thrive within nature’s limits.
…to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society.
Rigorous science. Practical solutions.
The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD), which we developed, is a proven, scientifically robust model that helps organisations make pragmatic decisions to move toward sustainability. With our partners, we research the science of sustainability and link it to real world applications. We create dialogue about the opportunities and challenges in building a sustainable future. We are accelerating the transition to a thriving world.
The FSSD has taken people beyond the arguments of what is and is not possible; beyond politics of left or right wing perspectives. Instead, the Framework builds on a basic understanding of what makes life possible, how our biosphere functions and how we are part of the earth’s natural systems. Rather than get lost in abstract definitions and causes, it builds on a platform of basic science and is designed to allow true interdisciplinary, cross sector cooperation for concrete and measurable change towards sustainability. After all, if you want to achieve ‘success’, you have to first understand what this means in real terms before you can then take strategic steps to achieve it.
A simple idea. An enormous opportunity.
In the late 1980’s, Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, a Swedish doctor and cancer scientist, was treating numerous children with cancer. He couldn’t help but notice how their families, care providers and the communities came together quickly and efficiently with compassion and coordinated resources to try and make a difference. This was in stark contrast to the confusion, debate and inactivity he observed about the health of the planet overall.
While examining cells from one of his cancer patients under the microscope, Dr. Robèrt was struck with a very simple, but very powerful idea. What if we could get agreement on the system conditions for the continuation of human life – rooted in a basic understanding of the requirements for healthy cells? From the perspective of the cell (that smallest unit of life—that merges us in a way that goes beyond politics and belief systems), we could build consensus among governments, business people and environmentalists as to what must be agreed to at the most basic levels to safeguard prosperous life for humans on the planet.
Dr. Robèrt drafted a first version of such a ‘consensus document’ and sent this draft to a broad cross-section of scientists, including over 50 ecologists, chemists, physicists and medical doctors in Sweden and asked for their input. Twenty-one drafts later, there was at last consensus about what is in principle needed to sustain human civilization on earth. With the support of His Majesty the King of Sweden, Karl XVI Gustaf, this ‘consensus document’ and accompanying audio tape was sent to every household and school in Sweden.
The Natural Step was born.
Partnerships with Academia Lead to Evolution of the Framework
Around the year 2000 Dr. Broman, now at The Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), invited Dr. Robèrt to a chair at BTH and a wider cooperation between BTH and The Natural Step evolved. At BTH, Dr. Broman and Dr. Robèrt have amongst other things led an integration of sustainability in engineering education, built a world-leading sustainability research group and co-initiated a successful Master’s program in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability. Several hundred alumni of this program are now applying the Framework in their respective countries and workplaces around the world.
Deepening The Natural Step’s scientific roots, in May 2008, The Natural Step, BTH and Lund University launched the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development. This is an alliance of universities examining the science of sustainable development in collaboration with businesses, NGOs, communities and policy-makers around the world. The programme supports leaders as they implement sustainability solutions – ensuring that their decision making is based on scientific foundations and that it will result in real change towards sustainability.
A New Direction for The Natural Step
What has emerged is a new way forward and a renewed intention to put The Natural Step’s track record, brand and value proposition at the service of accelerating the transition to a thriving world—one in which human beings live within the capacity of the Earth to sustain us.