Backcasting — a natural step when operationalising sustainable development.
Journal article, 1998
This paper presents a method for strategic planning developed in co-operation with and applied by The Natural Step network of scientists and business corporations. It includes examples from companies that have used the method in their strategic planning for sustainability. The main difference between the method presented here and other approaches is that this method is: (i) based on a framework of four non-overlapping principles of sustainability; and (ii) based on backcasting, that is, instead of trying to predict the future from today’s trends (traditional forecasting), one also tries to liberate beliefs about today’s situation and to understand what requirements and possibilities sustainability will involve in the future. The method consists of four steps. In the first step, conditions for a future sustainable society are defined. In the next step, the firm’s current activities and competences are analysed in relation to these conditions. In the third step, future possibilities for the firm are envisaged. In the final step, flexible strategies are identified that can link the present situation with the desirable future sustainable situation.
Backcasting sustainable development the natural step