[Podcast] Sarah James on the natural steps for regenerating communities

Sarah James is a city and town planning consultant and co-author of the book The Natural Step for Communities. In this podcast by Regenerative Skills, an online media and community based on the pursuit of a regenerative life, Sarah James presents the natural step framework and shares examples of inspiring Ecomunicipalities.

Listen to the podcast

Ecomunicipalities, an inspiring model

In this podcast, Sarah James discusses the obstacles to change, good strategies to follow and gives some advice for communities wishing to transition to sustainable practices. She presents examples of communities that achieved systemic changes to become more sustainable using the “ecomunicipality” approach. She notably visited in 2001 several Ecomunicipalities in Sweden, and witnessed how sustainable towns are possible.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she said. “They were so far ahead of anywhere in this country” (Sarah James is from the United States). “The best thing I could do is to let people know what they’re doing over there”. So she decided to contact Torbjon Lahti, founder of Ecomunicipality concept and chairman of Sustainable Sweden Association, to write a book about it.

According to Sarah James, the Ecomunicipality model success can be explained by : 

  • Having a global strategy, a systemic view. All issues are tackled together. It can lead to fast changes.
  • Implementing strong circular development. She gives the example of Umeå waste and energetic management.
  • The process of becoming an Ecomunicipality can work in any type of community anywhere around the world. The sustainable principles and the process to follow are the same in all contexts. The business sector, schools, public services, all of them can use them.

She concludes the podcast by presenting Ecomuna, Sustainable Sweden Association’s current main project, that aims to build a global capacity center around Ecomunicipalities.