The Natural Step provides an elegant framework, a compass, to guide us on the road ahead and is a powerful tool for all seeking a new mental model to move their businesses into a sustainable future.

Maurice Strong, Secretary-General 1992 UN Earth Summit

The whole world has dreamt about a solid definition of sustainability that would allow systematic step-by-step planning. When the definition arrived, delivered by The Natural Step, it was remarkable to see how simple it was. Why hadn’t anybody thought about it before?”

Paul Hawken, Author by Natural Capitalism

“The Natural Step is one of the few planning frameworks that is grounded in science and requires participating communities to address the impacts of tradeoffs in a systemic fashion. Once participants grasp the TNS language it becomes a new mental map that facilitates better decisions.”

Dr. Nola-Kate Seymoar, President & CEO, International Centre for Sustainable Cities

“We needed to bridge various actors across a shared mental model. Such a model would inherently need to deliver on the following: (i) cover the full scope of social and ecological and economic sustainability, (ii) rely on a scientifically robust sustainability definition (iii) be generic so as to be applicable for any topic or organization at any scale. We found but one such framework – the FSSD”

Prof. Toine Smits, Radboud University, responsible for Waalweelde Duurzaam

Our Method

Our services are based on the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, also knows as The Natural Step framework. This framework has been developed over 25 years to help organizations take use sustainability as a strategic platform for business development. This method gives organizations a clear definition of sustainability and the systems upon which we are dependent.

Sustainability Principles

The four sustainability principles define the basic conditions for a sustainable society, and help ensure that we do not systematically destroy the social and ecological systems we depend on. They act as instructions for creating a prosperous society today and in the future.

Four basic rules define success.

Sustainability Principles provide a clear point of reference for backcasting from a future vision. They help us to understand what we are aiming for, which is crucial to take steps towards a sustainable society in an effective way.

The rules of The Natural Step relate to the four ways that we are destroying Earth and hurting society. We have to stop. So, to be sustainable, we need some basic rules…

(1) … we cannot dig stuff up from the Earth at a rate faster than it naturally returns and replenishes. (eg, fossil fuels, metals and minerals)
(2) … we cannot make chemical stuff at a rate faster than it takes nature to break it down.
(3) … we cannot cause destruction to the planet at a rate faster than it takes to regrow. (eg, deforestration and degradation of ecosystems)
(4) … we cannot do things that cause others to not be able to fulfill their basic needs.

Backcasting from sustainability principles

If we are to achieve a sustainable society, all sections of society will change - how we live our lives, build cities, produce food and manufacture products. The changes required are fundamental and we need to move in the same direction for it to have an impact.


The rules for sustainability are not isolated. To apply them, we go through our ABCD process.

When major changes are needed and when current trends are part of the problem, the backcasting approach is an effective way to fight the complex challenges. Our mutual target is set by the four sustainability principles, and the ABCD process is then needed to get the smart and innovative solutions, leading us towards the future we want to live in.


Everything starts with awareness. We need to understand how to define sustainability and what it means for individuals, business and other organizations, society, and ultimately the Earth. Knowing where you want to be, is a prerequisite for getting there. First we help organizations to imagine a scenario in which their organisation is successful and fully sustainable.

Baseline assessment

The next step is mapping the current situation in relation to the new company vision and the principles of sustainability. We do a sustainability ‘gap analysis’ between the present reality and the sustainability goal. By doing this, we help organisations to identify key sustainability issues and their business implications as well as strategic opportunities for change.

Creative solutions

Once we have identified the gap between where we are today and where we want to go, we can start thinking about innovations, solutions and actions These will incrementally bring us closer to a sustainable product, service or organisation. We are clear on what success looks like, and which process we must set up or change in order to get us there.

Down to action

From all the creative ideas build we need to find your company priorities to start off with. What do we need to do, and when should we do it? What are the first steps and “low hanging fruits” that will bring quicker benefits, and what needs longer term planning? We make this plan together so you can get started quickly on your path with concrete steps to a sustainable future.