City of Madison

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the natural step

A Unifying Framework

To facilitate working together toward sustainability, the City of Madison adopted a framework called The Natural Step (TNS) to guide its decision making, operations and management in accordance with the recommendations of the Building a Green Capital City:  A Blueprint for Madison’s Sustainable Design and Energy Futureplan.  The Common Council adopted this resolution in December of 2005.

This framework provides a model and a common language that facilitates cooperation in working toward the goal of sustainability. It is grounded in "systems thinking", which recognizes that what happens in one part of a system affects every other part.

The Natural Step uses the metaphor of a funnel to help visualize the economic, social and environmental pressures that will result in increasingly negative impacts on society as natural resources continue to diminish while demand increases.

The Natural Step Funnel - Declining natural systems and Increasing population and consumption funnel into sustainable society