What is a framework?
A framework is a set of processes or activities widely accepted enough to serve as guiding principles. They act like maps guiding you which direction to go.
It is not intended to impose a rigid set of rules and constraints. Rather, it is a guide to start an initiative and inspire new ways of thinking.
The Natural Step (TNS) Framework for Sustainability
TNS is an evidence-based planning framework that has been used by communities worldwide. The approach is based on thinking about the big picture before focusing down on a strategy or plan of action. The TNS Framework for Sustainability is a 5 tier outline for planning which:
helps us understand complex systems we impact, and that impact on, our activities
provides a definition of sustainability that can be used to build strategies
provides a model for taking action
provides a set of tools for sustainability planning
The key outputs using the TNS Framework are: 1) a vision, 2) prioritised
action plans, and 3) indicators to monitor success.
The Towards 2060 (www.towards2060.org.nz) engagement process
sought to address the following questions to develop a long term vision
What does a sustainable future for communities look like? (Vision)
What do we want from that? (Goals, objectives, outcomes)
How will we get there? (Responses, actions, projects)
How will we know? (Monitoring and evaluation)
Towards 2060 used TNS to conduct baseline mapping and backcasting to develop solutions, working back from the vision and goals to avoid developing solutions that simply address the issues of today. Priorities are then agreed upon, including actions that can demonstrate quick results.
Baseline mapping helps to identify issues and opportunities for change by analysing how current activities are running against sustainability principles and objectives. A gap analysis is produced to create an action plan.
Wikipedia defines back casting as an approach of defining a desirable future then working backwards to identifying action points that will connect the future to the present. The fundamental question of backcasting asks: "if we want to attain a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?" Forecasting is the process of predicting the future based on current trend analysis while backcasting approaches the challenge of discussing the future from the opposite direction.
For more information about how Manukau city developed the Towards 2060 plan and various tools and resources to undertake visioning and planning, please visit