Sustainability Illustrated: Animating Knowledge

It is no secret that YouTube has transformed the way we use the Internet. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google; it is where people go to learn (about pottery, gardening, physics, etc.), find demonstrations, and share their work with the world. I believe this is a trend that will continue to grow in the future.

I have been working as a sustainability advisor for almost 10 years (with the international non-profit The Natural Step) and have seen first-hand the power of innovative sustainability practices to transform lives, businesses, and communities for the better.


As an artist and an illustrator, I have also witnessed the power of illustrations and multimedia to help people understand and learn more effectively. So I decided to combine my skills and share, through animated illustration, what I have learned about sustainability over years of helping businesses and communities become more successful, sustainable, and resilient.

I started a YouTube channel called Sustainability Illustrated. The purpose of the channel is to change the world by giving people free access to the best sustainability knowledge and processes available.

Animating Knowledge

The first video I created was based on a presentation that participants always enjoyed during my workshops: sustainability explained with science.

This video introduces the common scientific definition of sustainability based on natural cycles and thermodynamics — using illustrations to make it easy to understand. Given the popularity of works like RSA animates and the Story of Stuff, I used a similar “living whiteboard” style – an approach that is both engaging and particularly effective for explaining complex concepts.

Design Insight: How It’s Done…

I drew the illustrations on my computer while recording my screen, recorded the narration, imported everything into iMovie, accelerated the drawings, edited and synchronized the voice, and voilà! There was my first Sustainability Illustrated film.

A Growing Learning Gallery…

Since then, I’ve covered key sustainability topics including:

Ecological footprint | Triple bottom line | Benefits of backcasting | Four sustainability principles

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All Sustainability Illustrated videos are available in both French and English and are hand-drawn in a short 4- to 7-minute format, so people can learn about sustainability for free in bite-size pieces.

To date, the channel has gathered over 500 subscribers through word-of-mouth and received more than 28,000 views! Understanding that YouTube is a social platform,  I hope the channel will soon develop into a community where people learn and share sustainability knowledge and practices: a sustainability-knowledge mobilization movement.

Upcoming video topics will include: human needs, the business case for sustainability, systems thinking, stories from the field, objection handling, and more. I have a list of over 60 videos to publish and many more to come…

Feel free to share the videos! And please do not hesitate to let me know what you think and share your ideas to improve the channel and make it even more visible, helpful, and successful.

Subscribe to the Sustainability Illustrated channel or support the project.


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About Alex Magnin

Alex specializes in illustration and communication to create sustainable change. He has been drawing all his life and working as a sustainability consultant for almost ten years, helping businesses and communities be more resilient and successful. More:


  1. Thank you Alex for having combined your skills and experience to create these valuable resources. As sustainability change agents, we often engage with people who struggle to share their sustainability vision or understanding with colleagues, clients, partners and so on. These videos are already proving an enormous help in engaging people in a much more compelling way than is ever possible in more traditional communications modes. I encourage everyone to subscribe to Sustainability Illustrated!

  2. Renée Meyer says

    Hello Alexandre,
    I think that your videos are great! They are perfect for any audiences- young and old: well-educated and less-educated; “believers” and “non-believers”. I will not hesitate to use them often.
    Thank you for the wonderful work you have done, on behalf of us all!

  3. Thanks a lot Renée and Chad! Very much appreciated 🙂

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