Courses and Events

Getting to Results with Sustainability Transition Labs (Free Webinar | April 24)

IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership (Guelph, ON | May 23-26)

Accelerate: Collaborating for Sustainability Conference (Toronto, ON | June 5-6)

More courses and events...


News and Resources

Featured Video: Accelerate: Collaborating for Sustainability Conference

Resource: Sustainability Illustrated's Video Collection Explains Sustainability

Resource: Amazing Neighbourhoods: Engagement and Sustainability Planning Guide (National Version)

Webinar Recording: LEED and Sustainability

Case Study: Interface and The Natural Step: how to implement a sustainability revolution

Blog: Can Alberta lead on lowering emissions?

Blog: Learn about sustainability for FREE with short animation videos on YouTube

Blog: Sustainability-driven Collaboration: A platform for turning wicked problems into wicked opportunities

Blog: Sustainability-driven Collaboration, Part II: Value Creation and Vision as a Driving Force

Blog: Sustainability-driven Collaboration, Part III: Simplicity without reduction, authentic leadership, and process design


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Message from the Executive Director

Can We Play in the (Oil) Sand Box Together?

The theme of The Natural Step’s upcoming Accelerate conference is "Collaborating for Sustainability." Over the past two years, we at The Natural Step have dedicated ourselves to better understanding what it takes to collaborate more effectively across organizations to bring about the kind of breakthrough results that can shift systems toward sustainability. Accelerate will be another chance to learn together on this topic.

One thing we’ve learned is that systems change is unlikely to happen if we only collaborate with our natural allies. Instead, transformative change really does require understanding and working with those whose interests and perspectives are different than our own.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the hyper-polarized debates about Canada’s energy system and response to climate change, arguably our most important sustainability challenge. My observation has been that while many people tend to lament the polarization, we also tend to go back to mostly working in the realms in which we are most comfortable, mostly engaging with people who share our views. What do we miss when we follow these patterns?

Among other things, we might miss opportunities for innovation. Billions of dollars are being invested in technology to reduce emissions in the fossil fuel industry and in new clean energy technologies. While a big part of the solution to our challenge surely lies in the realm of engineering and technology, we also need to invest in social innovation. Social processes have a huge role to play in evolving the cultural narratives, relationships of trust, and policy frameworks that help accelerate new solutions. The tricky part is that some of this investment will surely need to come from sources very rooted in the "current reality" of the system.

Recently, I was asked how The Natural Step Canada could accept sponsorship from Suncor Energy for the Accelerate conference. Indeed, some will suggest that, being an organization with a mission to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society, The Natural Step should not accept sponsorship from a company whose primary business is the development of fossil fuels. [Read more]

Accelerate Conference to Feature Leading Global Speakers on Sustainability and Collaboration

We’re convening the 2nd annual Accelerate: Collaborating for Sustainability Conference because we realize that organizations can only go so far on their sustainability journeys when working alone. Collaboration is both critically important and highly challenging. Thankfully there is proof of possibility we can learn from.

Accelerate will offer a unique opportunity to deepen learning about collaboration from experts and practitioners who have successfully navigated this complex journey and helped others along the way. We are excited to share the expertise and real life experience of dozens of visionary and inspiring leaders, including the following keynote presentations:

Lessons from Sport: What the Sustainability Movement can Learn from Athletic Champions
Featuring Canadian Olympic medalist and former Canadian Female Athlete of the Year, Jenn Heil

The Revolution is Still Necessary!
A keynote presentation by Dr. Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline and The Necessary Revolution

Excuse Me Canada, May We Collaborate?
A unique perspective on collaboration challenges and opportunities by provocateur Nicholas Parker, Founding Chairman of Cleantech Group Inc.

Pre-competitive Collaboration: The Secret Ingredient to Accelerate Industrial Change at Scale
Breaking down traditional thinking with social change agitator Avrim Lazar, former CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada

It’s all about sharing and learning together. It's a different kind of conference.

Learn more about the full roster of incredible leaders who will be presenting at Accelerate, and register today to join us on June 5-6 in Toronto.

Join us for a Free Webinar on Getting to Results with Sustainability Transition Labs

If there’s one thing we can report since launching the Sustainability Transition Lab initiative last year it is that collaboration is messy business. If you like static roles, clear-cut deadlines and deliverables, and you don’t like having your ideas and opinions challenged, the collaborative space is probably not for you.

If on the other hand you can handle having your assumptions pointed out to you, you’re ready to adjust your schedule to accommodate others just as busy as yourself, and you’re ready to accept that the viewpoints you bring to the table may not turn out to be the most popular, you just might be ready for collaboration.

Collaboration forces us to embrace the emergent or quickly drown in it. But at the same time...[Read more]


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