A “Golden Standard” develops from collaboration in Dublin

Caroline Nolan, Mary Ostafi and Mélina Planchenault In January 2008, Dublin City Council (DCC) began working with RealEyes Sustainability Ltd. and The Natural Step to move toward strategic, organisational sustainability using The Natural Step Framework. In November 2008, Dublin City Council kicked-off its new “Sustainable Dublin” effort with Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, founder of The Natural Step, providing inspiration through the keynote address. To date, the City of Dublin has already made significant strides with strategies to improve energy efficiency, waste management and protect biodiversity. This past spring, Caroline Nolan, Mary Ostafi and Mélina Planchenault joined this collaboration as a thesis dissertation team from the Master’s in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS) program at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, Sweden. Their goal was to help the city envision an optimal planning and governance process, referred to as the “Golden Standard”, for achieving long-lasting cultural change from within the local authority. The “Golden Standard” acts as a process based on principles of success to lead local authorities through a transformational process while moving toward a sustainable vision. Backcasting from the ideal “Golden Standard” planning process, the team was able to analyse the current planning practices and generate key recommendations to help DCC move Dublin towards sustainability. Feedback on the research results from Dublin City officials has been positive thus far: “The City of Dublin was fortunate on two counts, firstly to have such competent ambassadors for The Natural Step who chose the Dublin City Development Plan as the practical focus for their master’s dissertation,” noted Dick Gleeson, DCC’s Lead City Planner, of the students’ work. “Secondly through a rigorous application...

College Campuses Become Climate Neutral Learning-Laboratories

Georges Dyer, Senior Fellow, Second Nature, and Michelle Dyer, Vice President, Second Nature. “We may only have 3% of the carbon footprint, but we have 100% of the education footprint.”  These are the words of Michael Crow, Presidents of Arizona State University and co-chair of the steering committee of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).  Over 650 schools, which educate more than 5.5 million students, have made a pledge to integrate sustainability into the educational experience of all students, and eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations. On September 15th, nearly 100 of the participating institutions submitted plans detailing how they intend to achieve the goals of the ACUPCC. To review any of the hundreds of greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans publicly reported by ACUPCC institutions, visit the ACUPCC Online Reporting System for examples of campuses investing $70 million in comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits, installing solar arrays over all buildings and parking lots, and launching a School of Sustainability (Arizona State University), reducing energy demand 50% and generating 20% of their energy onsite from renewable sources (Portland Community College), and developing mid-western wind power (University of Minnesota, Morris). The ACUPCC network held its annual Climate Leadership Summit in college Chicago in August, where presidents and other senior leaders heard from Former President Bill Clinton about the urgent need to ramp up efforts on energy efficiency in our building stock.   Other speakers included Janine Benyus of the Biomimcry Institute, Peter Senge of the Society for Organizational Learning, and Rick Fedrizzi, President of the US Green Building Council. The ACUPCC is supported by Second Nature,...

SEB banks on TNS for the Development of a Comprehensive Climate Strategy

The Natural Step International began to work with one of Europe’s leading financial Groups, SEB, in the beginning of 2009 to help them establish a new Corporate Sustainability strategy and to implement it within the company’s daily operations. As a first step, TNS is partnering with U&W Consulting to advising SEB on a climate strategy for the firm.  Investors, customers, NGOs, employees and other stakeholders are closely watching how businesses in general respond to climate change.  The Natural Step recommended SEB to take on an ambitious climate strategy as a first step towards a sustainability direction because it will: • Reduce the bank’s overall risk and decrease their environmental impact. • Establish a method for planning that can be replicated when considering the sustainability of SEB as a whole. SEB has already taken a few key steps, including its commitment to participation in The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The CDP is used by 2,000 organizations in 66 countries as the means to disclose their climate impact and share plans for reducing emissions.  A coalition of 475 financial institutions, including SEB, uses the CDP to make decisions about financial risk and commercial opportunity. The Climate issue is related to, and deeply interconnected with, many other sustainability issues. It is therefore important that we enable quick action regarding the climate issue while at the same time making sure that the issue is still connected to the sustainability as a whole. Keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind can help us avoid implementing ‘carbon free techniques’ that might pose new health risks in the form of new chemicals or that might further deplete natural systems,...