Participating in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development – Summary and Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development?
  2. What is the purpose of the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development?
  3. What is the design of the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development?
  4. What activities and research is being undertaken currently?
  5. What are the benefits of participating?
  6. What are the different ways of participating?
  7. What are the requirements for participating?
  8. What does it cost to participate?
  9. Does the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development provide research funding?
  10. What is the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development?
  11. To what extent are third parties encouraged to critique the Framework?
  12. Where can I learn more about the Framework?
  13. Who is behind the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development?
  14. How is the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development governed?
  15. What is the difference – the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development and Strategic Sustainability Network?
  16. How do I sign up to the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development?
  17. How do I sign up to the Strategic Sustainability Network?


What is the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development? | back to top |

The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development is an international alliance of universities aligning sustainability research with action through collaboration with businesses, NGOs, communities and policy makers. Participants in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development are collaborating to further develop, test and share a unifying framework to provide a more complete and clearly structured understanding of sustainable development and a way to make it happen faster and strategically. Such a framework is needed to help decision-makers understand the consequences of their decisions and be able to act cohesively together.

The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development also acts as the main academic engine behind a global cross-sector network for strategic sustainable development, connecting science with decision-making.


What is the purpose of the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development? | back to top |

The purpose of the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development is to develop theory, methodology and practice for strategic sustainable development through interdisciplinary and intersectoral cooperation between scientists and business- and public sector leaders. The programme is aiming to:

  • Increase large scale collaboration for sustainable development,
  • Scrutinize and refine the Framework
  • Use the Framework to put thematic research and application between universities, businesses and communities across the globe at service of sustainable Karen Millen development,
  • Use the Framework to develop more methods and tools for decision-making, management, and for improving the use of other tools such as ISO 14001,
  • Cradle to Cradle, ISO 26000, Ecological Footprinting and GRI.
  • Develop pedagogical means of disseminating the Framework large scale to the international community of decision-makers, thought leaders, and change agents.

Karen Millen outlet Development?”>
What is the design of the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development? | back to top |

The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development operates with a ‘core’, which is constantly refining the Framework, and ‘petals’ that represent areas of thematic research and application around the world. The Core of the program is designed to scrutinize and refine the generic aspects of the Framework, including related generic methods and tools for management, decision support, and monitoring.

The generic aspects of the Framework are used to inform the work of thematic research projects on a range of application topics. The thematic programs could be seen as petals forming the corolla of the the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development flower, all merged together by the Framework as a common language.


What activities and research is being undertaken currently? | back to top |

Core Programmes – At present the core research focuses on the social dimension of sustainability and criteria development processes for eco-labeling and procurement.

Thematic Programmes – In addition to the core programs there are currently 10 thematic research areas in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development. Thematic research projects and participating institutions are:

  • Strategic Sustainable Development, Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), SWEDEN
  • Product-Service Innovation, Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), SWEDEN
  • Industrial Metal Flows, Lund University SWEDEN
  • Green Science/Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University USA
  • Industrial Ecology, Åbo University, FINLAND
  • Algae Biomass, Macquarie University AUSTRALIA
  • Water Management, Radboud University, HOLLAND
  • Rainforest Ecosystems, Federal University of Amazonas UFAM, BRAZIL
  • Energy Systems, Linköping University, SWEDEN
  • Traffic Systems, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), SWEDEN
  • Conflict Resolution, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, ISRAEL


What are the benefits of participating? | back to top |

Participating in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development is an invitation to join the only multi-stakeholder initiative that applies a robust framework that is scientifically-validated and proven to aid systematic, interdisciplinary cooperation toward the full scope of sustainability. Active participation can offer:

  • Recognition and profiling – international recognition as part of a credible, cross-sector network of leaders, extra visibility to your activities, publications etc and a platform for show-casing cutting edge initiatives.
  • Access to expertise and support – support for integrating sustainability into research, education and application; practical guidance applying the Framework, and help identifying and shaping research projects to meet real, identified needs.
  • Competitiveness – access to businesses and other partners, strengthening of funding applications through partnerships and benefiting from the synergy created by use of shared methods.
  • Thought leadership – collective thought leadership comes through the co-development of the framework, and related tools and methods to aid decision-making.
  • Global networking – by participating in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development, individual researchers will be invited to also participate in the global strategic sustainability network, thereby offering growing number of global connections across all continents and sectors of society.


What are the different ways of participating? | back to top |

  • Researchers and academic institutions are invited to conduct research on and apply the Framework to their area of expertise and connect with a community of like-minded scientists from a variety of disciplines. Cross-pollination between the core and thematic programmes is encouraged.
  • Businesses and organizations committed to the tackling the sustainability crisis can have their challenges explored within the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development by referring them to the participating partners. They may in some cases choose to participate directly in the research. Committed organizations may also sponsor specific research projects and promote their involvement.
  • The Natural Step is the main promoter of the Framework and has a network of accredited advisors and associates who provide a quality benchmark in its application. The Natural Step can support practical implementation of research projects, offer training for interested participants, help to convene stakeholders and provide direct coaching with business and community partners.


What are the requirements for participating? | back to top |

Participation in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development is intended to be open and non-prescriptive. The basic expectations are as follows:

  • A commitment to a whole systems, science-based approach to sustainability
  • Agreement to support the testing, development, application, refinement and dissemination of the Framework
  • Sharing of news, publication results, tools and methods.
  • Active engagement with the programme partners to support the overall objectives.


What does it cost to participate? | back to top |

There are no joining costs to getting involved, though you may wish take advantage different service packages to help you get started or engage people in your initiatives. As this is an applied research initiative based on a proven method, as a starting point it can help you to build experience and connections by attending or hosting training, and involving trained practitioners in your projects. Please enquire by contacting us at info(at)alliance-ssd.org.


Does the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development provide research funding? | back to top |

No, not directly. However, participating in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development can lend support to your funding applications by connecting you to an international alliance using shared methods that 1) allow research funding to stretch further 2) enable funders to benefit from increased exposure and impact from their research funding. Synergy is created by leveraging the results in other thematic programs and amplifying the collective efforts.


What is the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development? | back to top |

The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development is a comprehensive model for planning in complex systems. It is openly published and free for all to use. Commonly referred to as The Natural Step Framework after the NGO promoting its development and dissemination, it has been helped hundreds of different organisations around the world integrate sustainable development into their strategic planning and create long lasting transformative change. It is constantly being used, tested, refined and developed in a process of continual learning that incorporates other methods, tools, and concepts into a shared, structured overview of sustainable development. The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development is the official vehicle for development of the Framework.


To what extent are third parties encouraged to critique the Framework? | back to top |

The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development uses the scientific peer-review process to continually develop the approach as a unifying framework that advances societal progress toward sustainability. It is en evolving method whose credibility stems from this fact. This means that when criticism is peer-reviewed, it forms part of the body of work that underpins the Framework and improvements need to be developed to address that criticism. Historically the Framework has been refined in this way through constant testing and dialogue between theory and application.

Note also that scrutiny of the Framework can be done by anyone regardless of whether they participate in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development programme. Those who do participate tend to be a good source of expertise in the Framework and see the need for its existence and continual development.


Where can I learn more about the Framework? | back to top |

Partners in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development programme offer a number of different initiatives that allow you to learn about the Framework. These include:

  • Academic education programmes
  • Practitioner training, including accreditation as trainers and facilitators.
  • Journal publications
  • Books
  • Case studies
  • The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development research projects.

For more information visit the websites of the respective partners.


Who is behind the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development? | back to top |

The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development was founded by The Natural Step, Blekinge Institute of Technology and Lund University. Its establishment was funded by the five main Swedish funding agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Agency, Formas, VINNOVA and NUTEK in a unique cross-community cooperation. The program (originally called Real Change, now Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development) was launched on 9 May 2008 at The Natural Step’s Leadership Challenge in Stockholm, with help from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, and the Director Generals from the five funding agencies.


How is the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development governed? | back to top |

The Natural Step, Blekinge Institute of Technology and Lund University are currently the core institutional hosts running the programme as a partnership, governed by a Memorandum of Understanding. The governance model is currently under revision so find contact persons here.


What is the difference – the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development and Strategic Sustainability Network? | back to top |

The Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development acts as the main academic engine behind the global network for strategic sustainable development. The intention is that participants in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development play an active role in the global network, providing expertise when needed and also contributing to transformation change projects via cross-sector collaborations and dialogue between theory and practice.

For participants in the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development, levels of membership in the global network can be selected based on interest and the extent of participation desired – see How do I sign up to the Strategic Sustainability Network?


How do I sign up to the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development? | back to top |

Academic institutions and researchers are invited to express interest by contacting the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development institutional hosts. Depending on the stage of development for your research you will be asked to provide the following information:

Scoping phase and research submission Initiated projects with funding already secured
  • Initial project description
  • Proposed budget and funding source
  • Motivation for participating
  • Title of project/program
  • Executive Summary
  • Background
  • Purpose of Study
  • Intended use of the Framework
  • Implications for Managers
  • Implications for Researchers
  • Methods
  • Project Lead and Contact
  • Publications
  • Keywords

Upon being admitted to the programme:

  • Approved projects will be profiled on the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development website
  • Participating researchers will be kept informed of activities
  • Contact information for each of the research projects will be provided.
  • Guidance on applying the Framework and recommended publications will be provided
  • A communication pack will be provided to allow you to describe your participation.
  • You will be offered various training and engagement services from the partners (cost involved).


How do I sign up to the Strategic Sustainability Network? | back to top |

The network is currently under construction. It is anticipated that joining the Alliance for Strategic Sustainable Development will provide automatic entry to the Strategic Sustainability Network as an Explorer – a membership without any obligation. To participate at different levels, specific communities of practice are being developed around shared interests for practitioners and trainers who are using the Framework or basing their work upon it. These categories involve a membership fee.