Valuing Ecosystem Function higher than material things is the paradigm shift that determines whether we understand the meaning of our lives and survive or whether we remain ignorant and selfish and destroy our own habitat trying to gain more wealth or more power. If we reach this level of understanding, not only can everyone live on the Earth but the natural systems on Earth can reach their optimal ability to sustain life.
— John D. Liu (2016)
There are some practitioners who work on sustainability with a regenerative development mindset. The reason why I would say it is time to move beyond sustainability is twofold. On the one hand the term itself has been coopted and some people now call their company sustainable because it has sustained growth and profits for a number o years in a row. The term sustainability begs us to explain what it is we are trying to sustain.
The term regenerative development, on the other hand, carries within it a clear aim of regenerating the health and vitality of the nested, scale-linking systems we participate in. At a basic level regeneration also communicates not to use resources that cannot be regenerated, nor to use any resources faster than they can be regenerated. Development in this context is “co-evolving mutuality” (Regenesis Group) — so biological and cultural evolutionary development, not in the sense of economic development (only).
The second reason is that I believe we need a reframe that honours the importance of getting to ‘sustainable’ while opening the possibility to deepen our practice and go beyond merely being sustainable to actually regenerating the damage humanity has wrecked on the planet since the dawn of agriculture, city states and empires.
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