The Natural Step provides a clear and simple definition of sustainability for everyone. This creates a shared language so that we may work together for effective and desirable change.  When combined with well-tested processes and tools to facilitate action we can more quickly achieve true sustainability together.

Cut through complexity.

Sustainability is a complex topic that affects us all. That’s why we use a set of sustainability principles to create a common language to guide action. The Natural Step’s sustainability principles have been tested and applied since the early 1990’s and are designed to be:


Compliant with the relevant scientific knowledge, evaluated in peer-reviewed journals.


Focussed on necessary conditions for a sustainable society, to avoid debate on the non-essentials.


Taking the whole system into account, connecting the symptoms of un-sustainability with their root causes.


Applicable to all fields of expertise and relevant in any scale or arena, from materials to products, organisations, sectors, regions, nations and society.


Actionable criteria to guide day-to-day problem-solving and support deep transformation for the longer term.


Address non-overlapping parameters, so that trade-off choices become visible and true progress can be measured.


We call these rules 'Sustainability Principles'.
In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing…

1… concentrations of substances from the earth’s crust (such as fossil CO2, heavy metals and minerals)

2… concentrations of substances produced by society (such as antibiotics and endocrine disruptors)
3… degradation by physical means (such as deforestation and draining of groundwater tables).

4. And in that society there are no structural obstacles to people’s health, influence, competence, impartiality and meaning.


It takes some training and experience, but with practice, it becomes clear how to be more sustainable into the future.


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


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. We use a science-based and ‘whole-systems’ definition as a firm foundation to build a vision of what success looks like in the future.

Baseline assessment

This step uses the four sustainability principles to conduct a sustainability ‘gap analysis’ of the major flows and impacts of the organisation to see how its activities are running counter to sustainability principles. This way we assist organisations to identify critical sustainability issues, their business implications, and strategic opportunities for change.

Creative solutions

Now that we have identified the gap between where we are today (current reality) and where we want to go (vision), we can start to think about innovations and solutions. These will bring us step by step 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.

Devise a plan

What do we need to do, and when should we do it? What are the first steps and “low hanging fruit” that will bring quicker benefits, and what needs longer term planning? Through a set of prioritization questions we can design a pathway that keeps the goal in mind with maximum flexibility and benefits. We make this plan together so you can get started quickly on your path to a sustainable future.

Ready to learn more about what we can do for you?