From (Keystone): Lonza plant and the river Rhone in the Valais canton in Switzerland. Tons of mercury were dumped into an evacuation channel between 1930 and 1973. The pollution was only discovered in 2010 during construction of a road.
From (Keystone): Lonza plant and the river Rhone in the Valais canton in Switzerland. Tons of mercury were dumped into an evacuation channel between 1930 and 1973. The pollution was only discovered in 2010 during construction of a road. with its author Dalen Jacomino just published an article about the Sustainability Compass and its crossboarder cooperation. The original is in portugues: "Quando a sustentabilidade ultrapassa fronteiras". -> Link


Here is the german translation: "Wenn die Nachhaltigkeit Grenzen überwindet". -> Link

When sustainability transcends borders

A Swiss consultant launches application geared to sustainability and joins the Brazilian former executive to give momentum to the design and conquer new markets.

By Dalen Jacomino /


The mission of transforming the planet into a more sustainable place joined the Swiss consultant Matthias Müller and the Brazilian entrepreneur Telma Gomes on the same team. Müller is the application creator of the Sustainability Compass, launched in June 2014, which aims to stimulate smart thinking and sustainable attitude. Gomes is a partner in this project since late 2014. Among other activities, the Brazilian made the app translation into Portuguese.

"Our goal with the application is to encourage the questioning and the search for answers to issues related to sustainability," said Müller, who enlisted the help of a group of collaborating friends and technicians. The app basically works presenting questions to users when they have to make a decision or manage any project, making a better assessment of the level of sustainability of their actions.


The app content has as theoretical base the methodology proposed by The Natural Step. Founded in 1989 in Sweden by the scientist Karl-Henrik Robèrt. The Natural Step is a non-governmental organization that proposes a system of reference and work facing the sustainability of human

activities on earth. According to this proposal, four principles are fundamental to the success of the "world system". The first is to eliminate the contribution to the progressive buildup of substances extracted from the earth's crust (e.g., heavy metals, fossil fuels). The second principle is to end the collaboration of human beings to the progressive accumulation of chemical substances produced by

society (e.g. dioxins, PCBs, DDT). The third principle supports the lifting of man's contribution to the progressive degradation and destruction of nature and natural processes (e.g., overexploitation of land and forests). And the latter refers to the elimination of collaboration of human beings to the conditions that impair the ability of people to fulfill their basic needs (e.g., working conditions, security and citizenship).


"We believe that sustainability begins with awareness and understanding, or even with smart thinking, which then should result in effective action," says Müller. In addition to the app, the user also

receives a deck of cards, which can be printed and used as a kind of game. "You get 18 cards with tips on how sustainability can be discussed with your family, at school, with friends or at

work," explains Gomes.

Müller says that many of the app’s currently available on the market focus on actions and on giving advice to the user. On the other hand, end up disconnecting from people because they do not offer a more holistic understanding or a stimulus for questioning the individual. Just because it doesn’t offer ready answers nor it "makes it easy" for the consumer to take decisions, as proposed by most app’s, is that the Sustainability Compass can be a challenge as a project, explains Müller, because in the end, it is the user who makes the decision.

"We are convinced, based on the experience that giving advice or offering solutions will not make people move. People need to find themselves the answers for their projects. "This way, our app works more as a partner to the day-to-day issues and decisions" he argues. "Our app is not complex, it can be translated into several languages. The cultural context is also not present

in the application, it is set by the user, "says the consultant.

Next steps

In addition to knowing and believing in the potential of this methodology in the app, Gomes, a Brazilian who has lived for five years in Sweden, is part of the network of supporters of this proposal for sustainability. "The idea is to create an army for “the good”. Inspire people to have more awareness of how their thinking and actions impact the world we live in" she says. "We need to create new rules for the game, otherwise the planet cannot stand".

In addition to Müller and Gomes, the team has an entrepreneur in Mexico. Currently the app is available in German, English, Portuguese and Spanish. And it costs 2 euros. It is available for iOS and Android systems.

The next steps? Entrepreneurs believe that there is huge potential for customization of technology and concept for companies, organizations and schools. "Companies may have their own app, tailored to their demands and challenges," says Müller. "We interact with people and users

who send in comments and advice on how we can improve our service. In doing so, we learn that it is possible to establish many inspiring connections when trying to accomplish something useful. "

The Entrepreneurs

The Swiss consultant Matthias Müller works in the area of ​​innovation, design and sustainability. He is the founder of Mensch Design Innovation GmbH. Former journalist and former consultant at Swisscom, is the co-founder of The Natural Step in Switzerland and currently holds the organization's

president chair in that country.

The Brazilian Telma Gomes has a long and solid executive career in various multinationals in Brazil. She moved to Sweden in 2010 to do a master's degree in sustainability and ended up settling her family there. In 2011, Gomes founded WIESD (Women at the forefront of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development Program), a program to extend the role of women in leadership and facilitating their participation in innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability.