This definition of sustainability is concrete and understandable for everyone. The Natural Step’s approach creates a shared language so that we may work together for effective and desirable change.  The processes and tools facilitate action so that we can more quickly achieve true sustainability together.

The Natural Step‘s sustainability principles are concrete and comprehensible for everyone.

They are designed to be necessary, sufficient, universal, concret and distinct. In this way they can be used as system boundaries in decision making and innovation. 


and compliant with the relevant scientific knowledge available to date.



for sustainability and avoid unnecessary requirements and confusion on elements that may be debatable.


and they cover the most relevant aspects; in this way they help to avoid gaps in our thinking towards sustainability.


so all team members and stakeholders can apply them in any arena, on any scale and in any field of expertise.


and thus able to guide problem-solving and innovation to create a better world.


and non-overlapping, so they facilitate comprehension and monitoring.


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 and heavy metals)
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 your sustainable organization 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 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.

Devise a plan

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 to a sustainable future.

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