Message From the Canadian Executive Director: A New Approach for The Natural Step Canada - The Sustainability Transition Lab

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Message From the Canadian Executive Director: A New Approach for The Natural Step Canada - The Sustainability Transition Lab

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A new approach for @TheNaturalStep Canada - The #Sustainability Transition Lab
Monday, September 19, 2011 - 2:00pm


For the past 10 years, The Natural Step Canada has built the capacity of dozens of municipalities and businesses to lead change toward sustainability in their sectors and regions, leading to thousands of changes in policies, decision-making, and concrete actions that are contributing to a more sustainable planet. We have created leaders, role models, and best practice examples for a better world.

To do this, we have largely worked one organization at a time, one community at a time, and one individual at a time. We are proud of our accomplishments and the achievements of those we have worked with. Yet despite tremendous progress, it is clear that working one organization at a time won’t change things at the speed or on the scale we need.

To address the complex challenge of living sustainably, we need to tackle the interconnected and systemic causes of the great challenges of our time. That requires an approach that looks at whole systems, collaborates across boundaries, and fosters innovation and creativity.

Thanks to generous seed funding from The Catherine Donnelly Foundation, next year we will be launching a new strategic program that will become a key pillar of our sustainability work: The Sustainability Transition Lab, an innovative model for multi-stakeholder engagement in strategic sectors of Canadian society.

This new approach to collaboration and social change will be designed to: build shared understanding of the systemic sustainability challenges in a given sector among diverse stakeholders; develop a vision of a sustainable future for that sector; build deep commitment to change toward that vision; and enable stakeholders to work together to create solutions to overcome those shared challenges.

We plan to develop this program through strong strategic partnerships in key sectors of Canadian society. The goals of The Sustainability Transition Lab approach are to:

  • Introduce a powerful new collaborative model for sectoral innovation and policy change in Canada

  • Build the capacity of specific sectors to respond to the complexity of their sustainability challenges and create the conditions for a transition to sustainability to occur

  • Foster new ways of working together to create solutions that address the root causes of the sectors’ most pressing challenges

  • Experiment with different approaches, foster learning, and capture the best ideas about systemic change

We’re excited about this new direction as it builds directly on our long track record of building leadership capacity in individuals and organizations to accelerate the shift to a sustainable world. To achieve sustainability, it’s clear that large-scale collaboration is needed now more than ever. We look forward to scaling up our impact and helping achieve our vision of a sustainable world—now on a quicker pace.

Join our movement for change! To find out more or to discuss partnership and funding opportunities, please contact Chad Park at cpark(at)

Stay tuned for additional details about The Sustainability Transition Lab approach over the coming months, including which sectors and partners we’ll be working with.

Kelly Hawke Baxter


About The Natural Step Canada

The Natural Step Canada is a dynamic non-profit organization with over a decade of experience helping organizations and individuals understand and make meaningful progress toward sustainability.

WE ENVISION... a sustainable world in which individuals, communities, and businesses thrive within nature's limits.

WE STRIVE... to inspire, educate, and connect Canadian leaders to accelerate the transformation toward a sustainable world. · · 613.748.3001



The Natural Step Canada
Keywords: Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | Sustainability | The Catherine Donnelly Foundation | The Natural Step | The Natural Step Candada | policy change | sustainability transition | systemic change