nexus point | Leadership Development ~ Talent Management ~ Realising Potential

Fundamental distinctions of sustainability.

The accepted first-principles of sustainability were established by Dr Karl-Henrik Robert, founder of ‘The Natural Step’, an international organisation that is actively supporting the development and implementation of sustainable practice in communities and organisations around the world.  His work distilled out the absolute fundamental requirements for sustainability.  These conditions relate to physical substances and their role / impact in the environment. The conditions could also be interpreted with a view to sustainability in leadership, viewed from a perspective of relationships and interactions as the environment.


  1. Extracted substances from the Earth’s crust must not systematically increase in the biosphere.
  2. Substances produced by human society must not systematically increase in the biosphere.
  3. The productivity and biodiversity of the Earth itself must not systematically be physically deteriorated.
  4. Human needs must be met with a fair and efficient use of energy and other natural resources.


A possible interpretation for applying these system conditions in the context of leadership:

  1. Do not over-tax yourself.  Have your actions and activity levels be levels that work for you – physically, emotionally, spiritually.
  2. Do not allow allow ~stuff~ (opinions, broken promises, for example) to accumulate in your relationships and interactions.  Focus on generating and maintaining a clear space in which to operate these relationships.  This can be supported by using existence systems to track the status of promised actions.
  3. Maintain diverse interests, activities, and inputs.  Seek out diverse views and opinions.
  4. Ensure that your actions (or inactions) do not undermine the ability of any other person to succeed in their endeavours.

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