The following links, presented in no particular order, provide an overview of sustainable development in theory and practice:
AtKisson, Inc. is an international network of professional consultants, trainers, facilitators, researchers, writers and designers, with bases in the U.S. and Europe, and strategic relationships with several other firms and individuals.
Imagine what a safe, livable, healthy community might look like. Around the country citizens are coming together to create a vision of what their community might be and to develop steps toward making these visions come true. Alternatively called “healthy”, “livable” or sustainable communities, these efforts are integrative, inclusive and participatory. In many communities –large and small, rural and urban — issues are being addressed in an interconnected manner. They are demonstrating how innovative strategies can produce communities that are more environmentally sound, economically prosperous, and socially equitable.
Second Nature is a nonprofit organization that helps colleges and universities expand their efforts to make environmentally sustainable and just action a foundation of learning and practice. Education for Sustainability (EFS) is a lifelong learning process that leads to an informed and involved citizenry having the creative problem-solving skills, scientific and social literacy, and commitment to engage in responsible individual and cooperative actions. Second Nature focuses on colleges and universities because they educate our future teachers, leaders, managers, policymakers and other professionals.
The Natural Step (TNS) is a non-profit environmental education organization working to build an ecologically and economically sustainable society. TNS offers a framework that is based on science and serves as a compass for businesses, communities, academia, government entities and individuals working to redesign their activities to become more sustainable.
The Natural Step framework is a guide to thinking and acting in harmony with the earth’s cyclical processes. It provides a pragmatic framework which can be used to guide social, environmental, and economic actions. It acts like a compass that can point individuals and organizations in the direction they want to go.
Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt is one of the world’s foremost sustainability consultants. In 1989 he founded The Natural Step in Sweden, an environmental NGO that coaches organizations to become role models in sustainability. A surgeon by training, Dr Robèrt is a prominent cancer scientist. As a former Director of Research at the Karolinska Institute he has lectured widely on leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer and their clinical implications.
The Natural Step – Part One
Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt describes how businesses, municipalities, universities and other organizations can become positive role models in the 21st Century. He explains how scientific evidence can be used to illustrate the many ways in which ‘business as usual’ will ultimately damage an organization’s viability in an increasingly unsustainable world. Having achieved a better understanding of the constraints unsustainability will inevitably bring about, strategies can be implemented to avoid future costs and seize opportunities as they arise.
The Natural Step – Part Two
Dr Robèrt explains how the tendency to focus on details can lead us into difficulties. Once we improve our understanding of the whole we can then break out of the cycle of inventing solutions only to create new problems. He describes a useful business planning methodology called ‘backcasting.’ Backcasting teaches business leaders to imagine how their business might operate within tomorrow’s environmental constraints. A strategic framework can then be implemented to achieve that reality step by step.
The Natural Step – Part Three
Karl-Henrik Robèrt talks in greater detail about the key principals that underpin The Natural Step’s strategic framework for sustainability. In order to understand what sustainability entails, he says, we must first examine what ‘unsustainability’ means and how humanity is systematically destroying the natural and social environment. He exposes society’s four major design flaws and points to ways in which they can be corrected.
The Natural Step – Part Four
Karl-Henrik Robèrt draws upon his experience in helping corporations embrace sustainability while also enhancing bottom-line performance. He explains how businesses might go about devising a strategy for improved sustainability. He describes how such a strategy can best be implemented. Finally, he gives examples of operational changes that have been successfully adopted by large multinationals Ikea and Electrolux.
Building Cooperation – Part One
Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt says The Natural Step provides an overarching framework for achieving sustainability – one that encompasses other leading concepts such as ecological footprinting or Factor 10 energy efficiency. He explains that their focus now is to build greater cooperation between diverse areas of expertise. He gives examples from the field of medicine that illustrate how effective such a strategy can be.
Building Cooperation – Part Two
Karl-Henrik Robèrt’s greatest concern is what he calls ‘social unsustainability.’ He observes that there has been a steady erosion of trust between cultures and social groups. This is threatening humanity’s ability to achieve a more sustainable pattern of economic activity. We need to rebuild trust and work together to fight the real enemy common to us all – namely environmental and social break down.
Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt draws hope from new technologies and new cultural movements emerging around issues of sustainability. But he says we must accelerate this global transition. This will require a great deal of negotiation and strong leadership from within the business and political communities. He observes that more and more leaders are stepping forward and taking action and this is to be encouraged.
The challenge of the new millennium is whether and how we can all live together on Earth. We believe communities provide the best context and most promise for addressing this challenge. Communities are where we regularly share information and resources, examine and weigh options, act upon our values and beliefs, and learn the consequences of our action or inaction. How communities make choices, and the choices they make, will determine how our planet develops.
Our goal at Communities by Choice is to help communities learn to make choices that will sustain them over the long-term.
The growing sustainable communities movement in America and beyond offers an unprecedented opportunity for communities to learn from one another. But first we must build an infrastructure that supports continuous learning. Beginning with this web site, and continuing with our founding partners campaign, Communities by Choice seeks to lay the foundations for this learning to occur.
In the coming century, the transition to sustainability will change the types of businesses that exist and the products they produce. The way we structure and manage our economy will be fundamentally different. Sustainability is, in commercial terms, a business driver of immense significance.
Leaders from many disciplines believe we are witnessing and participating in a societal transition on a scale comparable to the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions – the Environmental Revolution….You’ll learn about how many of the world’s largest firms are using eco-efficient practices to shrink their footprint, cut costs, increase revenues, and transform the very definition of themselves. The stage is set to dramatically reduce the quantity of materials used in production, take-back products and reuse them, and to altogether dematerialize products.
What is sustainability? It’s more than environmentalism. It’s about living and working in ways that don’t jeopardize the future of our social, economic and natural resources. In business, sustainability means managing human and natural capital with the same vigor we apply to the management of financial capital. It means widening the scope of our awareness so we can understand fully the “true cost” of every choice we make.
The path toward sustainability we’ve chosen requires effort on seven ambitious fronts: Eliminate Waste; Benign Emissions; Renewable Energy; Closing the Loop; Resource Efficient Transportation; Sensitivity Hookup; and Redesign Commerce.