Towards new futures

Symbiosis in Development (SiD) is a practical framework for integrated sustainable development, based on systems- and design thinking. SiD guides you and and your team in a step by step process towards long term sustainable organizations, cities, products, and industry. SiD unravels the complexity of sustainability, realizing short term results, and long term positive impacts for the issues of our time.

SiD is open source and free to use, supported by the Except Integrated Sustainability foundation, the open source community, and a global network of partners.

Main SiD Features

Systemic Framework

SiD brings together holistic system thinking with actionable bottom-up solutions, while including all aspects of sustainability.

Integrated Spectrum

SiD covers all aspects that matter to your project, from circular energy, materials, ecosystems and biodiversity to culture, a just economy, health and happiness.

From idea to action plan

SiD supports the entire life cycle of a project, from team building to idea development in co-creation, concept building, and the implementation of action plans.

Flexible and extensible

SiD’s modular setup allows inclusion of custom tools and methods. Any tool that helps analysis, development, or design plugs directly into the process.


Work in co-creation sessions with multi disciplinary teams. Explore all aspects of your challenge together, across all layers of society.

Stakeholder involvement

SiD integrates stakeholder involvement to ensure understanding, adoption, and continuity of complex projects.

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Why SiD?

Symbiosis in Development has been developed as a practical tool to develop long-term answers for pressing social issues. It stems from, and has been applied to over 700 projects around the world. It includes knowledge from hundreds of experts in sustainable development. It translates this to a simple, clear, and manageable process. SiD makes the complexities of sustainable development manageable, practical, and inspiring. It combines both classical and complex system thinking, design thinking, co-creation, and stakeholder management into an effective development process. SiD has been used and implemented with multinational companies, (inter)national an local governments, and is used by hundreds of individual sustainability professionals on a daily basis.

Embrace complexity

Our world is becoming increasingly complex. The impact of a growing world population on a finite planet is multiplied by the need for better living standards for all, and challenges in climate, resources, and social justice. It demands that we look at the long term of how we build our cities, make our food and products, organize our society, and define value. This creates challenges humanity has never faced before. We cannot ignore the complexity of these challenges by only focusing on a single aspect such as energy, circularity, or climate challenges. To meet these challenges we need to gain an integrated understanding of the entirety of the world we live in, formulate effective improvement strategies for all of them in the long term, and execute them in the short term. We need an approach that works from idea to execution, and that allows team to distribute tasks and work towards a common goal. This is what SiD was made to do.


In 1999 a team at the Dutch innovation firm Except Integrated Sustainability set out to find systemic solutions for the critical challenges facing our society. After evaluating and applying existing methods, and finding them wanting, they saw a need for a more integrated and comprehensive approach. In 2001, work started on on a new framework, which became Symbiosis in Development. Since 2014 SiD is supported by the Except Integrated Sustainability foundation, and made open source for the benefit of the global community.

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