Österblom, Jouffray, Folke et al. (2015) illustrate that key companies in a given industry can operate in ways similar to keystone species in ecological communities, meaning that they can have a disproportionate effect on the structure and function of the system in which they operate. The thesis they test in their work is that transformations in practice by these keystone actors working across a sector “could result in cascading effects throughout the [field] and enable a critical transition [to sustainability].
Better Nature proposes to take this concept and extend it beyond analysis of companies to all actors (companies, government, multilaterals, NGOs, the public, etc.), whether individuals or organisations, that have a disproportionate effect on the systems in which they operate.