IndEco Strategic Consulting Inc (IndEco) is a team of dedicated professionals who help your organization facilitate, manage and adapt to the major changes society will be going through in the next couple of decades. Our primary focus areas are energy and the environment, and we provide advice and tools to assist you to address these changes by:
- identifying and understanding the needed and inevitable changes
- developing strategic plans or public policies to address these changes
- designing and managing implementation initiatives to realize these plans.
Through our work, we strive towards three goals:
- ensuring the success of your organization, and that of your team
- improving society
- developing IndEco and the individuals within IndEco.
Each person on the IndEco staff is committed to these goals, and believes that they are fully compatible. Achieving them requires that clients and staff work in partnership to improve understanding, prepare for acting, and ensure actions are effective. We use a systems approach to promote understanding, strategic planning to move from understanding to action, and project management, monitoring and evaluation to ensure actions are effective.
A changing world
We are living in a time of rapid growth and urgency. In the next few decades we can expect major changes:
Demographic – The current (2021) world population of 7.9 billion people is expected to grow to 8.5 billion people by 2030 (median variant). This has major environmental impacts because of the pattern of population and economic growth. As a result, it will influence the distribution of economic activity with the increase demand of goods and services. Within developed countries, like Canada and the United States, growth will be much slower. The aging population will also create social and economic tensions.
Environmental – Greenhouse gas emissions have increased dramatically around the world in recent years, driven by the rising population and rising economic wealth. We continue to be challenged by toxic materials, habitat loss, and other environmental issues. The current global target is to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced substantially over the next few decades, and to reach near zero global carbon emissions by the end of the century. Set by the Paris Agreement in 2015, many countries are now aimed at reducing their emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Recent analysis indicate that it important to limit the temperature increase to 1.5%. Doing so will require emission reductions of CO2 by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. Fortunately, with the United States coming on board, 127 countries representing 63% of global emissions have committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
Social – There are major differences in wealth both within and across countries. Globally, almost one in nine persons suffers from hunger and one in three from some form of malnutrition. It is the number one risk to health worldwide, and the number of people who are hungry is growing. Within developed countries, there are significant parts of the population for whom the coming changes will create difficulties. For example, employment impacts from economic restructuring. Additionally, energy prices are rising and becoming increasingly volatile. In the past this has been a trend for oil, but now all energy sources, such as natural gas and coal, are at risk.
Economic – Rapid economic development is anticipated in the coming decades, particularly in China, India, and many Central African countries. While developed countries continue the shift to post-industrial economies, there is the opportunity and need for a new industrial revolution introducing new technologies, and new sources of energy. There are also growing opportunities for market growth and development at the base of the pyramid, among the poor who were, until recently, ignored by markets. Investors will be looking for ways of capturing these opportunities, will be favouring organizations that address social and environmental issues, or both.
Geo-political – Addressing continuing geo-political instability will require new strategies, flexibility and vigilance. For the most part, climate change is increasingly understood as a humanly-produced phenomenon. Despite the widespread acceptance of the Paris Agreement, major world nations still differ on viewpoints of action related to topics such as finance, accessibility, and subjectivity to consequences. The climate crisis has become more than just an environmental issue, as new political actors are beginning to have an impact on climate politics.
In addition to these macro and global issues, major changes can be anticipated at local levels, and improvements must be made at lower levels to see change on a big scale.
Why is a systems approach special and necessary?
It is likely that your organization is no longer confronted with ‘problems’. Rather, you probably face what Russell Ackoff has called ‘messes’, which he defines as a complex system of strongly interacting problems. The only way to grapple with these messes is in a systematic way, often by stepping outside the mess itself to understand the system of which it is a part, and its interactions with other systems.
A systems approach addresses challenges comprehensively, looking at causes, not just symptoms, and anticipating possible side effects of ‘solutions’.
In many cases, that also means looking at the ‘mess’ from multiple perspectives, considering technological dimensions; economic, financial and market dimensions; behavioural, regulatory and organizational dimensions; and ecological dimensions.
Why should you be interested in strategic planning?
Strategic planning sets the overall direction of your organization. It deals with the development of a mission statement or organizational objectives which lay out the framework for your business planning. Our unique contribution to this field is that we are able to assist you in the development of strategic planning processes, which effectively integrate environmental considerations into your planning process. These are appropriately tailored to the special characteristics and needs of your organization.
How do you ensure your actions are effective?
Being effective requires that you identify the right goals, targets and actions, and that you follow-through on these. Needs for following-through and ensuring effectiveness will vary from project to project, client to client but often include:
- ensuring ongoing commitment of your management and your team, and good communication mechanisms, focusing on the end result
- careful program design, recognizing opportunities and barriers within your organization and within the market
- developing appropriate metrics to assess progress
- project management tools that are appropriate for the complexity of the undertaking
- on-going evaluation, and — where required — course correction mechanisms
- post-completion evaluation, and documentation of achievements and lessons learned.
We work with you to develop an effective implementation program that incorporates each of these elements.
A bit about our history and our name
IndEco Strategic Consulting was founded in 1994, and “IndEco” is a contraction of INDustrial ECOlogy. When the firm was founded, it was clear that business would be playing an important and growing role in shaping the changes that society needs to ensure a better integration of the environment and the economy, particularly — but not exclusively — as it relates to society’s use of energy. We were convinced then, as now, that a systems approach to understanding and acting on this integration is crucial, and this is one of the foundations of industrial ecology. We were fortunate enough to have clients with problems that could be addressed with some of the tools of industrial ecology, including material and energy flow analysis, life-cycle assessment, and input-output analysis.
As client needs and our work evolved, our toolset expanded, while in the broader world, industrial ecology came increasingly to be associated with a set of specific tools, including the ones mentioned above, and eco-industrial parks. Further we moved from focusing primarily on research and planning to also doing program design, delivery and evaluation.