06/10/13 – Sustainability is unhelpful: we need to think about regeneration

In any case, how long is sustainable: 10 years, 100 years, 1,000 years? And who and what should be sustainable: households, cities, whole nations, the world economy? And who should benefit: current generations or all humans who will ever be alive? And where is the critique of the current economic system: can SD really occur under the rules of capitalism,where the refusal to put a price on nature’s services and on ecological and social externalities is a systemic problem?

In my view, we need to start thinking of regenerative rather than just sustainable development. We urgently need to take specific measures to help regenerate soils, forests and watercourses rather than just allowing them to be sustained in an increasingly degraded condition as we have done for many years. We have the knowledge and the technologies to make renewable energy our main energy sources. And we urgently need to regenerate local communities and economies that have fallen by the wayside as economic globalization has become a dominant force.

It follows that only a systemic, rather than a vague compromise approach to future development will suffice, starting with the realisation that development cannot be at the expense of the health of the world’s ecosystems and that their protection and continuous regeneration must be a guiding principle for human action. It is high time that these realisations were embedded in the teaching of economic theory at universities and business schools all over the world.

An acute state of emergency exists on Earth, imperilling its climate, its life support systems and the lives of billions of people. Could we create a better conceptual framework to assure a plausible future for people and planet?

The concept of regenerative development aims to fill this gap: it means that we need to develop comprehensive rules for an environmentally enhancing, restorative relationship between humanity and the ecosystems from which we draw resources for our sustenance.

Much damage has been done to the world’s ecosystems already, and urgent solutions need to be found to reverse it. The time has come for cities to take specific measures to help regenerate soils, forests and watercourses rather than just sustaining them in a degraded condition, and to make renewable energy their main sources of energy supply.

Creating a circular rather than a linear urban metabolism – giving plant nutrients back to nature, storing carbon in soils and forests, reviving urban agriculture, powering human settlements efficiently by renewable energy, reconnecting cities to the regional hinterland – these measures are the basis for creating viable new urban economies which are so badly needed in this time of financial and economic crisis.

Regenerative development is as much about an honest give-and-take between humans and nature as about reviving human communities at the local level.

06/08/17 – Nature and the Hopeful City

At a time when what we need most is hope, cities must rethink designs and decision-making to create conditions conducive to all of life by looking to nature as model, mentor and measure (Janine Benyus). Nature’s role and our connection to it are explored in five broad areas. What does it mean for Austin and cities across the globe to be resilient, regenerative, livable, just and inspiring? These brief seeds of ideas are intended to generate discourse, give hope to the individual and to organizations, and to draw constructive feedback.


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