Presentation on theme: "The Natural Step Framework"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Natural Step Framework Thank you, XX. Hello everyone. Thank you for inviting me here today. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to speak to you today on such an important topic – making our communities more sustainable.I’m going to talk to you today about my organization, The Natural Step, our work at the community and regional level to help communities plan for long-term sustainability.Presentation at Living Green ConferenceDuluth, MinnesotaFebruary 2, 2008
2 The Natural Step framework Eco-municipalities Early Adopters Project IntroductionThe Natural Step frameworkEco-municipalitiesEarly Adopters Project
3 The Natural StepThe Natural Step is an international non-profit research, education and advisory organization that uses a science-based, systems framework to help organizations, individuals and communities take meaningful steps toward sustainability.As XX said, I am Executive Director of a national charity called The Natural Step. We provide education, training and coaching to organizations on how to integrate environmental, social and economic priorities into decision-making.So we work with mayors and councilors and senior management teams and community champions, to help them work together to address their community’s most pressing environmental, social and economic challenges in an integrated way.
4 Swedish Eco-municipalities Who uses it?Swedish Eco-municipalitiesAnd most importantly it has a proven track record with all sorts of businesses, communities, and organizations including a few fortune 500 corporationsThe Framework is free and available for anyone to use.The Natural Step as an organization was established to help people make better use of the framework.City of Madision, WI
5 The Natural Step Framework A shared science- and systems-based definition for sustainabilityA decision-making framework and process to help organizations and communities plan for sustainabilityA compass to help us know if we’re moving in the right directionOur work is based on what we call The Natural Step Framework. The Natural Step Framework is a strategic planning framework for long-term change.It provides a shared understanding of what sustainability means and gets everyone on the same page, which is useful if you want to get lots of people, departments and organizations working together.It helps organizations understand where they are today, where they want to be in a sustainable future and to make strategic choices to start moving in the right direction. It’s hard to know if you’re moving in the right direction if you don’t have a clear destination in mind and a clear set of criteria to chart your course.So The Natural Step Framework is like a compass – we help you know where you want to go and whether you’re moving in the right direction. Well come back to The Natural Step Framework a little later.
6 Find fundamental principles of indisputable relevance, and thereafter ask the advice of others on how to apply them.Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt
7 Why are we talking about sustainability? So that’s who we are and what we do. But why am I here talking to you today? Why are we talking about sustainable communities?You’ve just spent the past few days talking about all aspects of community development – economic development, small business development, food systems, community health, arts and culture, the need for collaboration, the need for leadership.Some of you attended sessions Monday on sustainability, green technologies, new energy systems and a new sustainability toolkit for local government.All these topics are important and they are all essential ingredients to building healthy, vibrant, livable communities. When we talk about community development, we’re talking about making our communities better places to live. Strong communities that are economically viable, socially just, culturally vibrant and environmentally sustainable. Communities that meet our needs today while also allowing our children and grandchildren access to the same quality of life that we have.And I think that’s ONE BIG reason that we’re having this conversation today. We’re talking about our children’s future. Their world. Their air, their water, their health, their climate. We’d all do anything for our children. There’s nothing more important. So collectively, why wouldn’t we want to safeguard their future, to make sure that they have access to the same quality of life that we do?I can’t think of a more important conversation that we could possibly be having today — about how we can make our communities more sustainable -- because, ladies and gentlemen, as we all know, our planet is in trouble.
8 Our planet is in trouble Human activity is now putting such a strain on the environment, that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.For the first time in the history of earth, all living systems are in decline. That means the Earth’s capacity to provide life supporting resources such as clean air, clean water, food and fiber, is systematically decreasing.We know that we have lost hundreds of thousands of species in five decades. At least 1,000 species go extinct every year.Almost half the forests that once covered the earth are gone. Deforestation is expanding and accelerating. We have also destroyed more than half the world’s wetlands.All fisheries around the world are in decline.Almost all of the mountain glaciers in the world are now melting, many of them quite rapidly. They’re all sources of drinking water and they’re disappearing.If today is a typical day on planet earth, humans will add 15 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere, destroy 115 square mile of tropical rainforest, create 72 square miles of desert, eliminate between 40 to 100 species, erode 71 million tons of topsoil, and increase their population by 263,000. And over 800 million of us will go to bed hungry tonight. That’s just in one day.And thanks to Al Gore, I don’t even have to give you any of the statistics on climate change. Climate change is, beyond a doubt, the most serious crisis we have faced as a planet, with profound social and economic implications.Scientists tell us we have 15 years years -- to turn things around. And we’ve got some work to do.
9 Growing AwarenessThere has been a huge shift in awareness over this past year, hasn’t there. How many of you have seen An Inconvenient Truth? From Al Gore to Time Magazine to Vanity Fair to Sports Illustrated, the environment has become THE issue in the media. And when Sports Illustrated starts talking about the environment, you know it’s serious.But it’s not just the headlines. The headlines reflect what’s happening on the ground. It’s what we can see and feel for ourselves. Its the polar bears on receding ice floes, it’s the disappearing glaciers, it’s hurricane Katrina, its water shortages in the west, it’s the unpredictable weather we’ve all experienced. It’s the increased rates of asthma and respiratory illnesses, it’s the increasing rates of cancer. And hand in hand with that increase in awareness has been the realization that the environment is not about saving cute little furry creatures or protecting a national park. The environment is the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. The environment is not just out there – it’s in here. It’s in this room with us.And we are no longer talking about what might happen if we don’t start to reduce our impact on nature. We’re talking about what is happening right now. It’s in our papers every day. And we all feel a sense of urgency.
10 the Sustainability Challenge The Funnel as a Metaphor Understandingthe Sustainability ChallengeThe Funnel as a MetaphorI’m going to start by talking a bit about “sustainability” in general. It turns out that lot of us use the word “sustainability,” but we also have a very hard time defining it when asked to do so.10
11 The Sustainability Challenge *Resources*Ecosystem servicesdecliningincreasingEnvironmental?Economic?Social?Cultural?The systems view of the biosphere and human society reveals an important reality of today’s unsustainable society.Earth’s capacity to provide life supporting resources, such as clean air, clean water and topsoil, is declining.Millennium ecosystem report – 4 yr study; 1360 experts worldwide, $24 million budget. Bottom line – human actions are depleting Earth’s natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.While at the same time, demands on these resources is increasing, e.g. as a function of population and our current patterns of consumption.You don’t have to be a world-renowned economist to recognize what will happen if present trends continue.So we are in a metaphoric funnel where over time there is diminishing room to manouver.The closing walls indicate that the problem of unsustainability is not only that we have emitted some pollutants that have caused some impacts we need to deal with on a one-off basis. The problem is that industrial society is so designed that pollutants are bound to increase in concentrations globally.The problem is not only that we have lost some natural forests and biodiversity, the problem is that we lose more and more natural forests, habitats and species on a global level, and will continue to do so as long as we maintain our current paradigm. Since 1945, we’ve depleted or destroyed over half of the world’s forests, and 11% of all of the Earth’s vegetative surface.The problem is not only that we have lost some productivity of agricultural land. The problem is that we lose more and more humus and nutrients in soils, we lose more and more biodiversity and, consequently, we need more and more fertilizers and pesticides to yield the same harvest.And what about society? Are we seeing a closing of the gap between the have’s and the have not’s or is it widening? What about our sense of trust is that strengthening or deteriorating?These are not simply social, economic or environmental issues these are sustainability issues.clickTo illustrate the fact that sustainability problems are integrated and holistic and cannot easily be categorized as “environmental”, consider the case of the Atlantic cod fishery. When the cod fishery collapsed, was it an:Environmental issue? An economic issue? A social issue? A cultural issue?It was all of the above. It was a sustainability issue.The funnel provides an elegant, big picture answer to the question, “What is it with this sustainability stuff? Why should I be concerned?”*Global population*Demand for resources*Demand for ecosystem servicesTime
12 Ecosystem Services Some examples: Purification of water and air Regulation of chemical composition of atmosphere/oceansDecomposition of wastesNatural pest & disease control by birds, insects, bats & other organismsFormation of topsoil & soil fertilityProtection against harmful cosmic radiationRegulation of local and global climatePollinationPrimary producers of basic necessities – food, fiber, waterSamples of ecosystem services
13 The Sustainability Challenge What is driving unsustainable trends and what would it take for society to be sustainable.
14 Dimensions of Sustainability SocietyEconomyEnvironmentEven as I say that, though, I want to stress that sustainability is NOT traditional environmentalism – we are beginning to understand that in a sustainable world, the environment, the economy and society will no longer be seen as competing elements, but rather complementary pieces of an integrated whole.The most common way of expressing the relationship between society economy and the environment is the concept of a triple bottom line - where environmental issues must be considered along with social and economic issues. This has sometimes been referred to as the three-legged stool.This view is helpful in that it communicates the idea that businesses should be considering more than just the traditional financial bottom line and that businesses have a responsibility to consider their impacts on society and the environment as well.Another way of viewing the same idea is that rather than being three equivalent circles, there is actually a relationship among those three dimensions of sustainable development. And specifically that our economy exists within a society and together they exist within the environment, and are totally dependent on it. This is an integrated way of understanding and expressing how the environment relates to society and the economy.This view acknowledges that our economic and social capacity is bound by (or ultimately constrained by) nature. (i.e. there is only one earth)So whenever we are talking about sustainability, we are talking about the responsibility of current generations to future generations, and we are talking about need to not just balance, but integrate all of our activities in a way that they support the continued well-being of Nature and Natural process.societyeconomyenvironment14
15 Conventional Thinking Traditionally, we try to understand complex systems by reducing the whole and studying the individual parts.This is called reductionist thinking.Our conventional approach is to study and try to solve problems one by one however, we all too often discover, that the problem we think we solved was really just the symptom of a larger underlying problem and the solution turns out to be the cause of another unanticipated problem.Reductionism is the view that informs most of our thinking today.Reductionism also has its corresponding organizational structure in society – known as compartmentalization or the silo effect.15
16 Systems ThinkingBut…We know that the properties of systems depend on the relationships between the parts as much as the parts themselves.When you dissect the system, you destroy the pattern of relationships.Read slide.Only by looking at the system as a whole can effective and lasting solutions be devised.
17 Systems Thinking We must look at the whole ... … and not get stuck on detailsRead slideA tree is a good metaphor for a complex system. Where the trunk and branches represent the basic principles of a system that branch out into ever greater detail amongst the twigs and leaves. If we take a step back we can comprehend the whole system, and avoid to drown in all the information ’amongst the leaves’ of details.
18 A Systems Perspective The Earth as a system We have all seen images of the earth from space. The blue and white sphere against a black background -- beautiful, and somehow small. It’s when you look at the earth from this vantage point, that you realize it’s all we’ve got.Whatever we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.And this is something I want to emphasize because one of the biggest obstacles to a clear understanding of what our environmental crisis is all about is this: Many people today still assume – mistakenly – that the Earth is SO BIG that we human beings cannot possibly have any major impact on the functioning of the planet’s ecosystems.That may have been true at one point in time, when we were many, many fewer people on this planet and we lived much simpler lives with fewer cars and fewer airplanes and without the technologies that help us cut more trees, harvest more food, pump more oil, and catch more fish. But it’s not the case any more.We have grown so numerous – now at 6.5 billion and still growing – and our technologies have become so powerful, that we are now capable of having a significant influence on the earth’s ecosystems.The most vulnerable part of the Earth’s ecological system is the atmosphere. It’s vulnerable because it’s so thin.I don’t know how many of you realize this, but the atmosphere is the equivalent of taking a sheet of saran wrap and wrapping it around a soccer ball. If the soccer ball is earth, then our atmosphere is no thicker than that single sheet of saran wrap. By burning fossil fuels and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and that is causing that sheet of saran wrap to get thicker. As a result, the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans is getting dangerously warmer and it’s causing some pretty significant impacts. THAT is what the climate crisis is all about.The Earth as a system
19 Sustainability – a Systems Perspective Open System with respect to energyClosed System with respect to matter1) Nothing disappearsPhotosynthesis is the primary producer2) Everything dispersesSlow geological cycles - materials from the Earth’s crustHumans are inherently part of this systemSo what was it that the scientists could agree on.On the planet there are two main forms of life, animals and plants.Note: There are actually more than 2 kingdoms of life: also bacteria, mushrooms, etc, which technically are neither plants nor animals…this was pointed out to us in a workshop and is true. So, we introduce this now more in general terms - generally plants (which can perform photosynthesis) and other forms of life that cannot (represented here by cows!)CLICKThere is an elegant relationship between plants and animals. Plants produce oxygen which allow animals to live and also animals eat plants for food.We then return the favour by producing carbon dioxide and organic waste that plants use as nutrients. In addition, when we pass away, animals also become food for plants.This cycle has been running for millions of years. We are familiar with the “Circle of Life” because we’ve all seen the Lion King!What else can we agree on? Well, we know that the planet is a closed system with respect to matter. This means that the matter that was here over 4 billion years ago when the earth was formed is still the matter that exists today and will exist in the future. Other than the odd satellite that we’ve shot off the Earth, pretty well all the matter that’s ever been on the Earth is still with us today. All that has happened is that this matter has changed forms. The first law of thermodynamics tells us this: nothing disappears. We know this intuitively, for example, when we think of a full tank of gas in our car. As we drive, the tank becomes empty, but the matter that formed the gasoline has not disappeared. Instead, it has changed forms.In addition, the second law of thermodynamics tells us that matter and energy tend to disperse, or break down over time. For example, a car gradually turns into rust. You don’t often see the opposite happen: a pile of rust gradually turn into a car. This sets up an interesting question, if matter on the planet is finite, and everything is gradually breaking down, why are things not getting more disordered? Why are we not living in a toxic, disordered mess? Instead, we see the exact opposite, over the past 4 billions years the planet has flourished from a wasteland with an atmosphere of toxic metals to the beautiful lush forests and ecosystems we see today.CLICK TWICEThe answer lies in the fact that, while it is a closed system with respect to matter, Earth is an open system with respect to energy, with sunlight coming in and heat going out. And the only organisms on the planet that can harness this energy to create order are plants through the process of photosynthesis.In essence photosynthesis “pays the bills”. It makes the cycles of life possible. Scientists can agree on this.In contrast to these fast sun-driven cycles, there are also much slower geological cycles. Matter from the earth’s crust (lithosphere) - substances such as carbon, phosphorus, mercury, etc. - is gradually brought up and into the ecosphere on the Earth’s surface through volcanic eruptions and weathering,These substances are gradually returned to the Earth’s crust over long periods of time through sedimentation. They are returned to the lithosphere at a constant rate, resulting in a concentration of these substances on the Earth’s surface that nature has adapted to.Humans are part of this system. To survive we are entirely dependant upon nature’s systems and upon each other. We are a social species interdependency, self-organization and diversity are cornerstones of our social fabric.Sustainability is essentially the running of these cycles in perpetuity. As long as these cycles can continue then life on the planet is sustainable. Further, sustainability relies not only on healthy ecosystems, but also on a healthy social fabric.TRANSITION: If this is sustainability, why do we see the problems we have today? It is because we are intervening and disrupting these natural cycles, causing them to break down. How are we doing that?Sustainability is about the ability of these cycles to run forever.
20 Sustainability – Mechanisms for Un-sustainability 3. A systematic physical deterioration34. Barriers to people meeting their needs worldwide41. A systematic increase in concentration of matter from the Earth’s crust12. A systematic increase in concentration of substances produced by society2We are disrupting these natural cycles in 4 ways, through 4 mechanisms.CLICKFirst, our industrial society is currently bringing up substances (such as mercury, lead, zinc, cadmium etc.) from the Earth’s crust and allowing them to disperse at a rate that is faster than the natural background rates. The result being a continual or systematic build up of these substances in nature.Global climate change is a perfect example of a down stream effect associated with this mechanism – where fossil fuels are extracted from the Earth’s crust and allowed to disperse and systematically build up in nature. And we are seeing all kinds of downstream effects – including things that you might not have ever expected like increasing insurance premiums, cities having to beef up their storm drainage systems to deal with heavier storms etc.Society’s flows today are in most instances many times more than the natural background flows.Toxicity is only a matter concentration – everything is toxic at a certain level.Many of the “environmental and health” problems that we hear about today arise as a result of this mechanism and are “downstream” results of it. For example:increasing concentrations of sulfur leading to acid rainincreasing concentrations of heavy metals leading to these metals showing up in animals (e.g. mercury in salmon, cadmium in kidneys)Second society has gotten very good at combining atoms and molecules to make new substances. And we use these substances in many of the products and processes of our society and then allow them to disperse into our air, water and land. In fact it is estimated that there are somewhere in the order of 100,000 human made substances. And yet we have toxicity data for only about 14% of these.These are substances that our biology has never before experienced.Some are benign as they break down quickly to naturally occurring substances while others are very persistent (like DDT’s) and last a very long time.The point here is that a sustainable society does not allow any of these substances to be used in ways that results in a systematic build up in nature.Third, natural systems process waste and break it down. However 2 things are happening -1 natural systems are receiving more waste (from the 1st 2 mechanisms) than they are able to process and at the same time they are physically being removed.For example at the same time that we are adding more CO2 to the atmosphere, forests that would help sequester some of the CO2 are systematically being removed.In fact, 80% of the World’s frontier forests (these are ecologically intact natural forests) have been cleared fragmented or degraded and 39% of the remaining forests are under threat.Physical degradation can occur in 3 ways – 1 is by taking more on an annual basis than nature is able to replenish or in other words drawing down the capital rather than living off the interest.This applies to forests, fishery, water extraction, collecting plants etc.In fact, 70% of the globes fishery are either over fished or fished at their biological limitThe 2nd way we can physically damage nature is by displacing it (i.e. paving over it, clear cutting), altering it (damming rivers or channelling streams into culverts etc.) or other forms of manipulation (such as agricultural practices that allow losses of top soil, salination, compaction etc.)The third way we can physically damage nature is through the loss of biodiversity (for example replacing forests with monocultures or by modifying genes).Whereas the first three mechanisms are ecological, the fourth is social. It deals with barriers that inhibit the ability of people to meet their needs For example, low wages place an economic barrier in the way of a person meeting his needs by not providing adequate resources. In an extreme example, if a farmer has to clear pristine land and use pesticides in order to grow food for his family, then he will always do so in order to ensure his family’s survival. As long as people’s needs are not met, they will not particularly care about the other three mechanisms. In this way, the fourth mechanism can be thought of as a “gas pedal” to the other 3.
21 Basic Conditions for Sustainability In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing:concentrations of substances extracted from the earth's crustconcentrations of substances produced by societydegradation by physical meansand, in that society…people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs.So if these are the 4 basic mechanisms that can destroy natural systems and human society then a sustainable society is one that no longer contributes to these destructive mechanisms.These are the principles or conditions of sustainability, rooted in science and in systems-thinking.In a sustainable society, nature is not……and in that society, people are not subject to…In my experience, on first, and second, and even third, reading, people have a hard time grasping the principles. As written, they communicate their underlying science clearly, but there is just something about that, “not being subject to systematically increasing. . .” stuff that says, “All right, folks, time to pull out your old university brain and put it to work.” Which can be a pretty big barrier for a lot of us.Most people do however become very comfortable with them after working with them a bit – which is what we will do here today.But first I want to go a little deeper into the meaning of the 4th (social sustainability) principle.While the first 3 system conditions are more environmental in nature the 4th system condition is more of a socio-economic condition.Read: “in a sustainable society people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs.”This relates to how we interact with each other.And by each other, that also includes all of society’s interactions between its organizations such as businesses, institutions, government’s, neighbours etc.3421
22 Basic Ways in Which We Are Un-Sustainable we dig stuff (like heavy metals and fossil fuels) out of the Earth’s crust and allow it to build up faster than nature can cope with itwe create man-made compounds and chemicals (like pesticides and fire retardants in carpets, etc.) and allow them to build up faster than nature can cope with themwe continuously damage natural systems and the free services they provide (including climate regulation and water filtration) by physical means (for example, overharvesting and paving wetlands)And . . .we live in and create societies in which many people cannot meet their basic needs (for example, to find affordable housing)So if these are the 4 basic mechanisms that can destroy natural systems and human society then a sustainable society is one that no longer contributes to these destructive mechanisms.These are the principles or conditions of sustainability, rooted in science and in systems-thinking.In a sustainable society, nature is not……and in that society, people are not subject to…In my experience, on first, and second, and even third, reading, people have a hard time grasping the principles. As written, they communicate their underlying science clearly, but there is just something about that, “not being subject to systematically increasing. . .” stuff that says, “All right, folks, time to pull out your old university brain and put it to work.” Which can be a pretty big barrier for a lot of us.Most people do however become very comfortable with them after working with them a bit – which is what we will do here today.But first I want to go a little deeper into the meaning of the 4th (social sustainability) principle.While the first 3 system conditions are more environmental in nature the 4th system condition is more of a socio-economic condition.Read: “in a sustainable society people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs.”This relates to how we interact with each other.And by each other, that also includes all of society’s interactions between its organizations such as businesses, institutions, government’s, neighbours etc.3421
23 FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN NEEDS Global Human NeedsProtectionAffectionSubsistenceUnderstandingFUNDAMENTAL HUMAN NEEDSFreedomParticipationAnd by needs – these are the generic inborn needs that all humans seem to share all around the World. How these needs are satisfied differ from place to place – but nevertheless, we all seem to share these same needsAnd these needs that we all share are…And interestingly, if any of these needs go unmet for long periods of time, we become ill - physically, mentally, or emotionally.So the question is: Are we, in any way, putting up barriers to people’s capacity to meet there needs?IdentityIdlenessCreation23
24 Sustainability Objective 1 Reduce and eventually eliminate our contribution to the buildup of materials taken from the Earth’s crust. This includes fossil fuels and their associated wastes.So what can be done about this – well the great thing about these metals and substances is that because they are elements they can be used over and over again.And we can start shifting towards the use of the more abundant substances like aluminium, iron etc. and recycle them over and over again.And if we need to use the scarce substances like cadmium, mercury, lithium etc. we protect them from leakage through tight technical systems so that they do not disperse.Noranda which is now owned by Falconbridge (one of the world’s largest mining companies) is also one of the largest recyclers of metals in North America – you might say that they see themselves as being in the metals business.And we can shift away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources like wind, wave, solar etc.By proactively tapping into alternative energy sources, Germany is one example of a country that is well on its way to meeting and surpassing its’ Kyoto commitments.And Europe is requiring that the producers of automobiles and many consumer electronics take them back for recycle or remanufacture at the end of their lifetime. They have also begun a systematic phasing out of heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, and chromium.The President of China is pushing for the creation of a “circular economy,” an economy that works like natural systems, where there is no “waste” and all materials move in continuing cycles of reuse.And it makes economic sense to do this. The funnel suggests that it will become increasingly harder and more expensive to continually depend on flows of virgin resources. And you can imagine how expensive it would be in the future if we continue as we do now - to try and collect all of those dispersed atoms for reuse.Inefficient useEfficient useDissipative useTight technical cyclesScarce metalsAbundant metalsFossil fuelsRenewables24
25 Sustainability Objective 2 Reduce and eventually eliminate our contribution to the buildup of synthetic substances produced by society.Dissipative usePersistent and unnaturalAbundant and breakdown easilyTight technical cyclesInefficient useEfficient useThe point here is that a sustainable society does not allow any of these substances to be used in ways that results in a systematic build up in nature.And it is the persistent substances that we need to be particularly careful with and if we need to use them we keep them in tight technical closed loop so that none escape and disperse.And we are seeing a growing number of green chemists who are learning how to create new substances that can replace the more persistent and unnatural substances.We want to source these things out to ensure that the products and processes that we use are not contributing to this problem. – otherwise we will find ourselves in the future having to build more elaborate water treatment systems or paying more for health care, and who knows what else.There is also a whole new emerging science called biomimicry. It is a really cool science that looks at how nature does things and tries to mimic those processes.For example we make Kevlar by boiling petroleum based molecules in a pressurized vat of sulphuric acid at very high temperatures. It is then subjected to very high pressures to produce Kevlar fibres. And yet a spider makes an equally strong and much tougher fibre at body temperature, without high pressures, fossil fuels, or corrosive acids. And it only takes flies and crickets at one end to produce this high tech material at the other end.25
26 Sustainability Objective 3 Reduce and eventually eliminate our contribution to the ongoing physical degradation of Nature.Collins Pine…FSC certified forest products…Cuba…Source out products that use practices that do not damage nature.The way we develop and build our communities.Inefficient use of resources and landResources from poorly managed ecosystemsResources from well-managed ecosystems useEfficient use of resources and land26
27 Sustainability Objective 4 Reduce and eventually eliminate our contribution to conditions that undermine people’s ability to meet their basic needs.In order to be able to achieve the first three sustainability principles, society must also be sustainable.We must not put up any environmental, economic or political barriers to people’s capacity to meet their needs.Unsafe working and living environmentsEconomic barriersSafe working and living environmentsSufficient resources for livelihoodPolitical oppressionPolitical freedom27
28 “Knowing where we want to go will help us get there” So those four sustainability principles help us know where we are ultimately going if we want to be sustainable.Knowing where we want to go will help us get there.So once we understand what sustainability is, we can then hold that out as our ultimate destination. Success means we meet those four principles. The next step is to ask ourselves where are we today with respect to sustainability. What are the gaps and opportunities?Then we ask ourselves what actions might take us toward our description of success and we prioritize them according to 1) whether they move us toward alignment with those four principles 2) whether they make economic sense (and political sense) and 3) whether they are a flexible platform or stepping stone toward future improvements (because we don’t want to invest all our resources into pathways or technologies that don’t have a future).
29 Backcasting from Principles Key ConceptsBackcasting from Principlesand theABCD MethodologyNow that we have identified the basic conditions for a sustainable society the next question might be so how can we use them? And possibly: where does the economy fit into all of this?Sustaining the economy is extremely important because it is the economy that will take us towards sustainability.We need to be strategic and make wise investments that will give good returns so that we can continue funding future steps.When mobilized and fixed on a goal the economy can be a very powerful vehicle.And a very generic strategic planning model that can be used to help us achieve sustainability is known as backcasting from sustainability principles.
30 Backcasting...looking ’back’ to the present and designing strategic, step-wise actions...Backcasting is something that we all do intuitively.Say for example you want to go to the grocery store; you would put the grocery store out there as the destination and then plan a route to get there. That is backcasting or beginning with the end in mindcurrent realitytime30
31 Backcasting from Sustainability Principles ...looking ’back’ to the present and designing strategic, step-wise solutions...In sustainability, the 4 principles of a sustainable society define success. So we begin with that end in mind then assess where we are relative to success and then take strategic moves that will move us towards success. And like chess success in the game of sustainability can be arrived at through many different ways.I.e. horse and buggy vs. high tech transportation system of computerized elevated monorail system made from recyclable carbon fibre materials and powered by hydrogen fuel cells where the hydrogen is produced using solar power. Both can be sustainable provide that they are aligned with the principles of a sustainable society.current realitytime31
32 Generic Planning Framework “D” StepRight direction?Flexible Platform?Return on investment?To backcast from sustainability principles we use a process referred to as the ABCD process where:A is for awareness, which is most importantly about creating a shared language for and understanding of sustainability in your organization or community. This is primarily a training and education step. It is essential that anyone and everyone who will be participating in a planning process for sustainability have a shared understanding of what it means, of the basic principles and systems thinking that underlie the sustainability principles.The A Step is also about making sure that participants agree on: the object of study; the sustainability challenge (a funnel of declining opportunity); a future landing spot (defined by the sustainability principles); and the generic method for planning towards sustainability (the ABCD model).“B” is assessing where we are today (relative to those principles) by asking the following question, for each of the 4 sustainability principles: #1 in what ways are we currently contributing to systematic increases in concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth’s crust? And so on for each of the 4 principles.This same type of questioning is used whether you are assessing the design of a product or assessing a department, business, community or organization, or to assess the sustainability of a community system or a focus area like energy, food, recreation, arts and culture or whatever.C is for Compelling Vision of the future, or compelling opportunities for innovation. This is a creative step that involves envisioning what our organization or community would look like in the future, in alignment with the principles of sustainability. How could we provide our communities’ services in a better way, in alignment with the principles of sustainability? C is a brainstorming exercise where we capture all the possible actions that could move us towards a sustainable outcome - no matter how out there they are or whether the idea makes financial sense or not – we capture them all,Because the next step is the strategic step that helps us to prioritize smart short, medium and long term initiatives by asking the following three questions:1. Does this action or investment move us in the right direction with respect to sustainability.2. Does this action or investment provide a stepping-stone to future investments - I.e. is it a flexible platform. This speaks to the fact that no single investment will get us to sustainability, just like no single move will get a chess player to checkmate. Knowing this, we want to prioritize those investments that give us the greatest degree of flexibility for future moves, rather than tying up capital in moves or technologies that are dead ends or that are so costly that they make it difficult to invest in improvements later. For example: invest in district heating system run on natural gas – with flexibility to run on geothermal.3. Does this action provide an adequate return on investment? This speaks to the idea that it doesn’t do anyone any good if an organization that is trying to become sustainable goes bankrupt. We need to maintain economic sustainability today and through every step of working towards ecological and social sustainability. This speaks to, as a rule of thumb, investing in the “lowest hanging fruit” earliest, those actions that generate a return on investment that can be used to fertilized more difficult moves later. Often, these early moves are efficiency improvements that generate savings - some of which can then be invested in more challenging measures later.And when we talk about return on investment that can also mean a political return on investment – will the move be accepted politically – or is it political suicide – it does no one any good if the political leadership is voted out of office.This ABCD process can be applied on many different levels and for many different scopes. It can be applied on the level of an organization, a department, a product, a process, a system, an industry, a community, a region, or even a nation. It is scale-neutral.time32
33 Principles of Sustainability Review - Key ConceptsPrinciples of SustainabilityThe FunnelThere are 3 key conceptsFirst we use a funnel as a metaphor of our current reality – when we take a step way back and take a big picture view of our world we notice two converging trends - one a decline in the globes resources and the capacity of the earth to provide life sustaining ecosystem services and the second an increasing population and demand for those resources and ecosystem services - this represents an unsustainable trend and the funnel is a good metaphor to illustrate those trends - we refer to it as a funnel of declining opportunity.We then define what is driving these trends – not by trying to understand all of the downstream effects (like global climate change, increasing crime and poverty etc.) but by looking way upstream to the root causes or mechanisms of unsustainability – and what we find is that there are 4 basic mechanisms that are causing all of our unsustainable downstream effects - and a sustainable society therefore is one that no longer contributes to those 4 mechanisms. We refer to these as the 4 principles of a sustainable society.And finally, we use a strategic planning method known as backcasting from sustainability principles – where we hold the sustainability principles out as the goal to work towards, we assess where we are today relative to compliance with those principles, then brainstorm actions & initiatives that can be taken to bring us closer to alignment with those principles and then prioritize those actions & initiatives into an economically strategic plan.And this method is totally generic in that it can be applied on many different levels and for many different scopes. It can be applied on the level of an organization, a department, a product, a process, a system, an industry, a community, a region, or even a nation. It is scale-neutral.This is about TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE, not incremental changeThis is about backcasting, not forecasting.This is about connecting the dots, seeing the interconnections.This is about taking all those wonderful initiatives and actions and integrating them into a long-term sustainability plan.This is about helping to learn from each other, share best practices, create champions and role models. Backcasting
34 Community stories A growing movement The good news is this is all possible. And it’s starting to happen.Think of the change you’ve seen in your lifetime. Two weeks ago I just went to my 25th high school reunion. I was reflecting on how much had changed since I graduated in There were no computers, no laptops, no cell phones, no blackberries. There was definitely no internet. There weren’t even fax machines. In fact, I did my undergrad degree on a typewriter.But seriously, who could have foreseen the way the internet and all this wonderful communications technology could have fundamentally changed the way we live, work and communicate to one another?So I’m equally positive that the next 25 years, with all the technology that will emerge, will be just as transformational. But this time we need to fix the planet.Communities all over the world are moving to more sustainable practices – reducing waste, building green buildings, saving energy, saving materials, creating more compact, multi-use, walkable communities, capturing rainwater, protecting wildlife corridors…..
35 Swedish Eco-municipalities An eco-municipality aspires to develop an ecologically, economically, and socially healthy community for the long term, using The Natural Step Framework for sustainability as a guide, and a democratic, highly participative development process as the method.OM Sweden over 60 communities are part of an eco-municipality network. They’ve all adopted The Natural Step’s four sustainabilty principles and committed to a participatory process. There is incredible innovation in building, energy and waste reduction, integrated systems where waste from one system becomes fuel for another.
36 What’s Happening in Our Area? WisconsinEco-MunicipalitiesCity of WashburnCity of AshlandCity of MadisonCity of BayfieldTown of BayfieldDouglas CountyJohnson CreekCity of MarshfieldCity of ManitowocCity of NeenahCity of MenashaTown of Cottage GroveLa CrosseLa Crosse CountyCity BeloitCity of Baraboo_________________________Duluth, MNMany communities in Wisconsin and across the U.S. and Canada currently are studying the Natural Step and looking at applying the eco-municipality model.The First Generation of U.S. Eco-Municipalities are Forming and Wisconsin is on the vanguard when it comes to Communities that are taking formal steps to adopt the Natural Step framework and working to become eco-municipalities. These are the communities that have formally adopted the TNS framework as their guiding principles through official local government resolutions:Many other Wisconsin communities currently are studying Natural Step principles and looking into applying the eco-municipality model to their communitiesOther Wisconsin communities currently studying Natural Step principles / doing study circles:BarabooSauk Co.Dunn Co.City of MarshfieldVillage of Johnson CreekWatertownWaterlooFort AtkinsonJeffersonGrelltonWhitewaterPalmyra
37 Early Adopters for Sustainability Model rooted in the theory of innovation diffusion – from innovators, to early adopters, to early majority, to critical massRecent applications as part of Natural Step program in Canadian communities of Whistler and CanmoreGreen Team Network in Chequamegon BayTwin Ports Early Adopters Project coming in the spring/summer
38 Sustainable Twin Ports Early Adopters Project Partnership Sustainable Twin PortsSustainable DuluthWe Mean Green (Knight Creative Communities Initiative)“Eco-resolutions”City of DuluthDouglas CountyProject has been funded by local foundationsZeppa FoundationDuluth Superior Area Community Foundation
39 The Basics Twelve to fifteen early adopter organizations Two to five participants per organizationTen days of training over one yearBaseline evaluationsDeveloping a vision of a sustainable organizationAction planning and implementationDocumentation, peer learning, and sharing with broader community
40 Key StrengthsCreation of local role models and success stories that inspire rest of community about sustainabilityDevelopment of a shared understanding of and language for sustainability among leading organizations in the community or area
41 Recruitment CriteriaCandidate organizations are recognized community leaders;they have an interest in sustainability; andthey collectively represent the breadth of the community or area.
42 For Additional Information Sustainable Twin Ports ContactsJan Karon – ;Jerry Hembd – ;