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The Inner Green Deal Journey

Liane Stephan
May 22, 2024

What if the key to tackling the climate crisis lies in how we, as humans, come together and make positive changes?

This question sparked the birth of the Inner Green Deal—a journey that began with a simple conversation about the impact of climate change.

As the CEO of Awaris, specializing in evidence-based mindfulness leadership programs for sustainable performance, collaboration, and resilience, my journey took an unexpected turn towards the inner dimension of sustainability. Partnering with Jeroen, Awaris Director for the EU, we recognized the need to contribute to future generations, leading us to explore uncharted territories of sustainability. We both felt that motivation strongly but questioned where and how to start.

Our connection with nature became a driving force. For me, it was reliving childhood memories in the forest—finding freedom, peace, and solace from Mother Earth. For Jeroen, it was understanding the fragility of life and the importance of experiencing love. We realized that connecting with nature is not just about being in it; it's about being more connected to life itself.

Our journey began with market research, a podcast, and pilot training programs. These endeavors paved the way for a profound impact, pushing us to design a seven-module program. Drawing methodologies from Contemplative Practices, Climate Research, Wisdom Tradition Methods as well as Neuroscience, we welcomed 100 leaders from the EU, private organizations, and change-makers, we witnessed very positive feedback and also learned that research was crucial for sustained impact. We couldn't actually believe that we got there, but I guess our drive was strong, and the belief that we, as experts in the inner human world, need to contribute... if not us, then who?

Prof. Dr. Christine Wamsler, the expert for the inner human dimension of sustainability, from Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), joined forces with us and started integrating qualitative and quantitative research into our programs, enriching the learning experience and demonstrating the importance of nourishing inner development to support system change and accelerating work towards Sustainable Transformation. Christine’s Framework started to become our guide.

The success of pilot programs led to the establishment of Inner Green Deal gGmbH, a non-profit organization committed to bridging inner and outer dimensions for sustainability. Using collaboration skills, compassion, and remaining optimistic, we believed that we, as a society, can indeed change and live with a deep sense of connection and gratitude to nature, overcoming polarization and separation as a root cause for the current Polycrisis.

Why the “Inner Green Deal”? While the EU Green Deal focuses on external change, we wanted to focus on the inner shift—making our name a reflection of our mission. Through contemplative and holistic methods, we wanted to nourish awareness, compassion, and courage to take action. We started partnering with the Inner Development Goals initiative as well as with the UNDP to craft tailored programs for fostering a green change. These collaborations underscored the potential for global cooperation in nurturing sustainable leadership.

The idea struck—how could we mobilize mindfulness teachers worldwide to support a global community and bring our vision to their localities? Building on our mindfulness expertise, we created MBST (Mindfulness-Based Sustainable Transformations) and started partnering with the Mindful Society Global Institute in Canada to pilot this 8-module transformative program. Excitingly, almost 60 participants joined to undertake the journey. Positive feedback and research results fuelled our motivation. After three courses, we initiated the MBST Teacher Training to spread mindfulness-based sustainable transformations worldwide and use this group to bring the program to their communities and NGOs.

With support from the Robert Ho Foundation, we received funding to teach MBST to NGOs in sustainability. This initiative aims to integrate inner development into their work, strengthening resilience, collaboration, and long-term thinking for those who dedicate their efforts to promoting and implementing initiatives devoted to conserving, protecting, and restoring ecosystems worldwide. What a gift to receive their support!

Today, more ideas and projects flood our minds!  We are creating a community of like-minded people who firmly believe that an inner shift is crucial for living in harmony with nature. Monthly we meet and create a space for embracing climate anxiety, hopelessness and grief, but also to play with our imagination of a compassionate and generative world and bridge forces to collaborate and take action for developing agency in our communities.

The potential of mindfulness-based practices and holistic methods to bring about a sustainable transformation is undeniable. Originating from a simple conversation, this initiative has now evolved into a transformative journey. We encourage you to tune into your inner calling and contemplate where your systemic influence can actively contribute to co-creating the world we aspire to inhabit.

Liane Stephan
Liane is Co-Founder & Co-Managing Director of Inner Green Deal


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