About TNS

About The Natural Step

The Natural Step is a non-profit organization founded in Sweden in 1989 by scientist Karl-Henrik Robèrt. The Natural Step is also used when referring to the (partially) open source framework we have developed.

After the publication of the Brundtland report in 1987, Robèrt developed The Natural Step framework, which set out the system conditions for the sustainability of human life on our earth.

The Natural Step is a pioneer when it comes to “Backcasting based on Sustainability Principles”, an approach that focuses on the development of a society that is better equipped for more sustainability. Systems thinking and backcasting from sustainability principles form the basis for numerous applications and tools for planning and (re)designing organizational strategies, organizational processes, product/service innovation and business models.

The biggest advantage is the concept of ‘simplification without reduction’ to avoid getting lost in the details with the complex issues within sustainability. The approach has been applied, proven and refined for almost 30 years in education, research, businesses, municipalities, regional and national governments, intergovernmental organizations (e.g. UN, EU) and a multitude of NGOs around the world.

The Natural Step Netherlands Foundation was founded in 2009 and has its office in Eindhoven.

HRH Carl Gustav XVI of Sweden in conversation with Prof. Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt

The Natural Step International

The goal of The Natural Step International is to accelerate the transition to a truly sustainable global society. We do this by supporting regional offices that engage individuals and organizations in taking concrete action towards and beyond environmental, social and economic sustainability.

TNS International’s decision-making board consists of 10 member offices that actively contribute to the development of The Natural Step as a global organization.

The underlying premise for the work of the foundation and its members is a scientific, systemic and strategic approach to achieving sustainability as defined in the ‘Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development’ (FSSD), focusing on:


  • Enabling individuals – empowering interested people to become effective change agents for sustainability;
  • Organizations – creating sustainable organizations and examples for sustainable companies and society;
  • Facilitating the change of systems towards sustainability – delivering breakthrough results that make entire systems more sustainable.

Our vision

… is one of a sustainable society — one in which individuals, communities, businesses and institutions thrive within the confines of nature.

Our mision

…is to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society.

The Natural Step Foundation Netherlands

The Natural Step International