Appendix A

More information on links, relationships and connections

  1. Understanding links, relationships and connections is very important to creating good sustainability solutions, plans and policies. Conventional sustainability thinking, approaches and tools do not let us do that effectively.

It is becoming increasingly clear that we need to understand connections better in order to make better sustainability plans and policies. For example it would not be good to create a Plan which solves one problem but makes another worse - eg if is not good if say zero carbon strategies reduces food production, increase pollution or undermine communities, directly or indirectly.

One example is biofuels which can reduce carbon emissions but can reduce food production if grown on fertile land – so we need to think holistically or from a ‘systems’ perspective. Another example we reduce food waste but wrapping it plastic but we all now know it increases plastic waste, much of which ends up in the oceans killing wildlife and also ending up as microplastics which are turning up in our food. Thinking holistically or in systems we might come up with better solutions such as compostable or even edible food packaging. More complex examples would be say to visualise and understand the myriad connections between food, soil, health, land-use, carbon emissions, jobs, waste, nitrogen cycle, phosphate cycle and water – all these connections are important for human health and well-being, sustainability and making better sustainability strategies and plans.

It is not easy with current tools to see all these links, relationships and connections, let alone to manage them. OnePlanet enables users to start visualising and managing these and communicate them to staff and stakeholders. It enables users to start thinking more holistically and encourages ‘systems thinking’. This is not possible to visualise or explain easily using Word, PDF or Excel. OnePlanet’s Mindmap View enables the connections to be made, visualised and communicated easily as well as enabling, at a click of a button, to create Word, PDF and Excel versions of the data.


  1. To create ‘joined-up’ sustainability solutions we need to work across siloes of departments, industries, supply chains and stakeholders.

When we start seeing sustainability in terms of links, relationships and connections, we realise that to create good sustainability solutions we need to work across current siloes of departments, industries, supply chains and stakeholders. For example to create and implement a sustainability and well-being Plan for a city which makes the links, relationships and connections between respiratory disease, air quality, internal combustion engine cars, obesity, cycle paths, electric vehicles, electricity grid infrastructure, showers in the workplace, safe routes to school, etc, we need to work across health departments, transport, companies, schools, public


  1. Understanding data and creating new insights using ‘graph technology’

‘The OnePlanet platform is based on a fundamentally different data structure (so-called ‘graph’ or network database). Whereas most databases are organised like excel spreadsheets in rows and columns, graph database structures are organised in what are called nodes and links (or ‘edges’). Note, in everyday use, ‘graphs’ are diagrams of data plotted on X and Y axes but these are technically known as ‘charts’. So the way we use ‘graph’ here is different from everyday language.

OnePlanet is now developing graph algorithms to understand sustainability data in a new way based on connections and relationships. In 2021 we will start deploying these algorithms and enhancing them with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

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