Backcasting - What is a sustainable future and how do we reach it?
Book chapter, 2014

This chapter is about ways of defining sustainability in an actionable way, in order to innovate and change the way products and services are being developed. The starting point is the four system conditions for sustainability developed by Holmberg (1995) and the Natural Step (a non-governmental organization). The second part of the chapter proceeds to introduce one particular proven way to introduce sustainable strategies in organizations, the ‘backcasting approach’ (Holmberg 1998; Holmberg & Robèrt 2000). The chapter ends by suggesting a combined backcasting/scenario planning approach (Alänge et al. 2007).

sustainable future

scenario planning


four system conditions



Sverker Alänge

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

John Holmberg

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Chapter 5 in Alänge, Sverker & Lundqvist, Mats eds. (2014) Sustainable Business Development: Frameworks for Idea Evaluation and Cases of Realized Ideas, Chalmers University Press, Gothenburg

978-91-87463-03-7 (ISBN)

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Management

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship



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