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One Planet Councils: Frequently Asked Questions

Inspire all your stakeholders with a fresh, engaging process, that connects you to a long-term and world-leading sustainability program


What is One Planet Living?

One Planet Living is a framework and program that helps address all major aspects of environmental, social and economic sustainability. It communicates the challenge we face in reducing our environmental impact and provides a way to thread together different aspects of sustainability. It is based on ten principles that cover areas from energy, transport and waste, to equity, health and happiness. The framework was developed by BioRegional and is now being used in over 50 countries to help analyse every aspect of how we live, work and build. The One Planet Living framework has been used by hundreds of local councils, individuals, governments and organisations around the world to address sustainability.


What's the difference between One Planet Living and One Planet Councils? 

One Planet Living is a model, based on ten principles, which provides a framework to make sustainability easy, affordable and attractive for everyone. BioRegional runs the One Planet Living program in Australia that helps communities, councils and companies address these key sustainability principles.

The One Planet Councils program is being delivered by Ironbark Sustainability in partnership with BioRegional and is based on the One Planet Living model. It is tailored to Australian local government sector to cater for the unique challenges and opportunities that local councils face. 


Is this about our internal operations or our community as a whole? 

The One Planet Councils framework is initially targeting council as an organisation, so the focus is on internal (or corporate) operations and the management of a council’s assets. However councils have the greatest potential for improving environmental sustainability when working with the entire community, including residents, businesses, agriculture and industry. The simplicity of the One Planet framework means that it can be used for internal council operations or the wider community. See for example One Planet Sutton in the UK which focuses on the entire community. 

Can we do this internally?

Yes. In fact, we encourage you to build capacity internally wherever possible. You can have council staff trained up to become a One Planet Sustainability Integrator so you can develop your own One Planet Action Plan. The training course includes presentations, discussion and interactive activities on the 10 Principles, application of the framework and guidance on how to create a One Planet Action Plan. 

Support from Ironbark or Bioregional can be sought at any stage of the process.


How much does the training cost?

It depends on how many people from council interested in the training. As a guide, anyone can become a One Planet Sustainability Integrator by undertaking the training offering here. The cost for this is $475. If you want more tailored training for your councils, just contact us for more information.


"One Planet Living is the new bottom line"
David Miliband, UK Foreign Secretary


What are the common international targets?

One Planet Councils uses a set of Common International Targets against each of the 10 One Planet principles to ensure that the level of performance required for a council to be endorsed is sufficient. In recognition that the solutions for a sustainable future are context specific, the Common International Targets are not intended to be prescriptive but instead provide a guide of how the vision of One Planet can be translated into reality. The targets can be applied flexibly to cope with the unique challenges faced and can be expanded upon to develop more detailed targets for specific regions.

The Common International Targets are supported by a set of guidance notes and position papers, which cover the application of these targets in more detail. Fundamentally the targets are based on the need to use no more than One Planet’s worth of resources. More information is available here


How is the level of performance determined? 

One Planet Councils benefits from the support of a number of highly experienced independent experts in the field of sustainable development. These experts also have experience in working through the practical delivery of the One Planet principles. The endorsed partner representatives work with BioRegional to ensure that the One Planet principles remain, and are increasingly recognised as, a symbol of truly exemplary commitment to, and leadership in, sustainability. More information on this international expert panel is available here


How would my council be endorsed as a One Planet Council? 

Endorsement is granted to councils that demonstrate that they have developed a One Planet Action Plan; a commitment to deliver the One Planet Action Plan; and a commitment to an Annual Review. Check out the ten steps to becoming a One Planet Council or contact us for more information. 


Who are BioRegional?

Established in 1994, BioRegional are an entrepreneurial charity who initiate and deliver practical solutions that help communities, councils and companies to live within a fair share of the earth’s resources – one planet living. BioRegional are an award-winning social enterprise which initiates and delivers practical sustainability solutions through partnerships around the world. BioRegional assist and encourage others to achieve sustainability through consultancy, education and informing policy and are working in partnership with Ironbark Sustainability to implement One Planet Councils in Australia. 


"BioRegional are pioneers in re-inventing our economy...this will allow us to make a difference on a scale - and with the urgency - that all of us now know is absolutely necessary."
Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Program


We already have a framework in place and too many gets confusing! What makes One Planet Living so special?

You probably already have all sorts of plans and policies to reduce your environmental impact: Climate Change Strategies, Carbon Management Plans, Environment Strategies, Local Action Plans, Sustainable Resource Management Strategies, Sustainable Building Policies, Biodiversity Plans and so one! Most councils also have staff with specific responsibilities. The One Planet Councils program is not a replacement to what you are already doing. It works by enabling you to:

    • Focus your efforts on ten areas developed by experts to comprehensively cover all the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability 
    • Aim for a standard set against challenging environmental targets, exemplified by councils, organisations and developments around the world
    • Inspire all your stakeholders with a fresh, engaging process that is based on some of the world’s leading examples in sustainability 


    I'm interested but not convinced. Can I dip my toe in?

    Sure can. You can contact us to organise a free one hour for hour planet workshop; you can download the information pack which includes templates and toolkits for you to implement One Planet Councils yourself and carry-out a self-assessment; you can start with a gap analysis and see how you're tracking and how it works; or you can attend one of the many One Planet events to see if it works for you.  


    Will this lock me in to your tools and consultants?

    Absolutely not. One Planet Living has been developed using an open source model. Anyone can become a One Planet Sustainability Integrator and anyone can become a member of the One Planet Network who are either interested in One Planet as a user or to provide professional services around the ten principles and development of the One Planet Action Plan (see the ten steps).


    Who else is doing this? 

    Hundreds of councils and communities around the world! Check out the City of Charles Sturt's One Planet Living Action Plan and download it their key documents; see how The Commons development in Melbourne is using One Planet; look at the One Planet Brighton project in the UK, the Barangaroo precinct  in Sydney, or even the One Planet 2012 London Olympics! As you can see the One Planet principles have been used successfully far and wide for nearly two decades. 


    How many One Planet Councils are there in Australia?

    There are none that have been officially endorsed. Having said that there are One Planet projects and developments around Australia and BioRegional and Ironbark are already working with over a dozen councils who are about to start the process. You could be the first!


    "One Planet Living principles are the most approachable, understandable and perhaps enjoyable principles on the planet."
    Kevin McCloud, Designer, wrtier and television presenter


    How does ecological footprinting work?

    Carbon and ecological footprints are measures that are central to understanding our environmental impacts and achieving greater sustainability. We know that our total carbon emissions (which cause climate change) and our ecological footprint (our use of the earth’s resources) are far higher than they should be. Globally, we roughly need a 90% cut in our carbon emissions and a 70% cut in our ecological footprint. Calculating your council's carbon footprint and/or ecological footprint is something that may be done in-house or through external experts. 


    I'm concerned that the targets (eg, zero waste and zero carbon) are unattainable for us?

    These are absolute targets that One Planet Living aims to enable specifically for individuals. Council has a role in working towards them – One Planet Living will provide a road map on how best to achieve this.  


    I see that "culture" and "food security" are two of the key principles. This is not something we focus on at my council. How do we do this?

    You can start with as many or as few of the 10 principles as you want – if you are seeking accreditation you will need to address all of the 10 principles. Food consumption is one of the biggest impact areas for the average Australian contributing nearly 1/3rd of our overall ecological footprint. Culture provides a local context and is about engaging with people around some of these key issues in an appropriate manner. We have loads of tools to assist in these areas.


    Just what I need, another strategy to sit on the shelf?

    One Planet Councils should complement and build on existing strategies already in place – in addition the One Planet Action Plan for council becomes a live document that is monitored, amended and reported on over time – with the focus being on enabling action.

    Where to
    find us

    Ironbark Sustainability

    Suite 8, 70-80 Wellington Street
    Collingwood VIC 3066

    1300 288 262