Low fat carbon in the South of New Zealand

Serra Natural Foods is a New Zealand based manufacturer of organic dairy products with an established presence across New Zealand and Australia and a growing market share in Canada and the United States. The company has found great value in using The Natural Step Framework to guide its brand image and business strategy. “Consumers today are very sophisticated and discern subtle messages about brands in all manner of ways” says CEO Jim Small. Because health and sustainability are important aspects of the brand personality, it is essential that our company acts in a way that is consistent with that brand image.  Even when times are tough and there are less resources to invest in new programmes, The Natural Step awareness persists in keeping the business facing in the right direction.” Serra has recently re-engineered its domestic sales and distribution system in New Zealand in order to make it more efficient and effective.  Internationally, the focus of its export sales has turned to frozen yoghurt, which is easier to transport via lower-carbon sea freight than fresh yoghurt. The company now also includes its carbon emissions data on its profit and loss statements so that it is directly linked to performance measurements. More information on Serra Natural Foods and their journey as a New Zealand Pathfinder organisation can be found...

Pilot of Community Sustainability Planning Course an Overwhelming Success

The first edition of The Natural Step Canada’s Community Sustainability Planning course has now come to a successful close. Throughout the five-month program, 23 participants from across Canada and one from the Unites States participated in a series of  online seminars and in-person workshops to receive in- depth training in the development of integrated community sustainability plans (ICSPs) grounded in the backcasting approach of The Natural Step Framework. The course recently culminated with a final session in Toronto, where participants presented their final team projects: ICSP process plans for communities where they live or work, from High River, Alberta to Halton Hills, Oakville, and Ajax, Ontario to Lockeport and Richmond County, Nova Scotia. Feedback from the pilot course has been overwhelmingly positive. Some of the highlights noted by participants included: the chance to work in collaboration with others in the field; the opportunity to meet and engage with leading experts such as Bryan Smith, the co-author of The Necessary Revolution; and the learning atmosphere in general. “I learned from the TNS trainers the humility and discipline required to be an effective agent of adaptive change,” said course participant Carolyn Frances Lair. “The engagement with my fellow students gave me insights into the diversity of the issues and challenges facing this enormous country we call Canada.” The Community Sustainability Planning course will be offered again in June 2010 till January 2011. If you are interested in being notified of the details when they are finalized, please join our mailing list. See photos from the first session on...

Commitment to Sustainability Drives Rapid Change at ISL

ISL Engineering and Land Services (ISL) roared into 2010 like a lion. In January of this year, the organization partnered with The Natural Step Canada to complete an organizational readiness assessment and develop a draft vision for a ‘Sustainable ISL’. This was coupled with the development of a road map to engage internal and external stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to reach the vision. Three months later, the work is complete and tentative targets have been set. This rapid action is driven by a corporate desire to take a leadership role in sustainability and enable clients of ISL to take significant steps toward sustainability. The Natural Step Canada advisors Pong Leung and Sarah Brooks were brought on board to help the organization build in-house ‘sustainability capacity’ and facilitate the development of the vision and roadmap. In early January, 43 senior-level decision-makers, including the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operating Officer, took part in a 2-day workshop that focused on: building a shared understanding of sustainability among participants, articulating strategic objectives that describe a ‘sustainable ISL,’ and accumulating information important for building a road map. “We covered a lot of ground and set a course for continued success along our sustainability journey” explained President and CEO Rodney Peacock in reference to the workshop. “As we noted during the wrap up [of the workshop], we have built up considerable steam and are charged with keeping the momentum going.” Information accumulated over the two-day session was used to draft a sustainability roadmap, outlining suggested steps to be taken by ISL over the next 24 months. This was...

Greening Ottawa NGOs–Take 2

A total of 28 participants from 18 non-government organizations (NGOs) around Ottawa, representing social, environmental, planning, and health sectors, are taking concrete steps to “green” their NGOs by learning how to implement The Natural Step Framework. Building on the design piloted in 2009, these in- person engagements provide participants the opportunity to network and foster relationships with  other local NGOs; to share experiences with and receive feedback from like-minded colleagues; and to navigate new processes and tools with guidance from sustainability advisors in a hands-on setting. In April, the group will come together for their second session to explore and begin the process of developing a sustainability vision for their respective organizations. This unique project is coordinated by EnviroCentre in collaboration with The Natural Step Canada, and funded by the Trillium Foundation. For more information on the program and the March 2nd kick off session, read Karen’s blog...

Communities in Newfoundland Planning Strategically

Communities in Newfoundland are very interested in creating integrated community sustainability plans (ICSPs), but have found the challenge of putting them together and the cost of training prohibitive in meeting that goal. These communities care deeply about sustainability, but have not been able to pursue that interest–until now. In early March, representatives from eight communities were introduced to the concept of backcasting, developing descriptions and scenarios of success using sustainability principles. The intent of the workshops was to focus specifically on “Energy and Climate Change” in the context of their Region’s ICSP and informed by The Natural Step Framework. To that end, workshop participants envisioned a desirable and sustainable future where their region has successfully anticipated, mitigated, and adapted to the impacts of climate change, while at the same time significantly reduced their region’s direct and indirect contributions of climate changing greenhouse gas emissions. Actions and strategies to support the region’s transition towards that desirable and sustainable future for energy and climate change were brainstormed and prioritized. Prior to the workshop, participants completed a current reality survey to help establish a baseline to assist with tracking progress over time. The workshops had representatives from several communities including: Bauline, Flatrock, and Pouch Cove located on the east coast of Newfoundland; and Forteau, L’Anse au Clair, L’Anse au Loup, Red Bay, and West St. Modeste located on the Straits of Labrador. The workshops were hosted by the Conservation Corps of Newfoundland and Labrador, with financial support from the Newfoundland and Labrador Green Fund. They were facilitated by Mike Purcell from The Natural Step Canada. Information collected from the one day workshop...