Re-greening the Forest Planet (Image Source)

Beyond Sustainability? — We are living in the Century of Regeneration.

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 of years in a row. The term sustainability begs us to explain what it is we are trying to sustain.

This diagram has been adapted from an early version by Bill Reed and is based on his work with Carol Sanford and colleagues at the Regenesis Group. I have changed some of the wording and added content. The green and red writing above and below the x-axis is not referring to the quadrant it is in but simply to positive impact (green) and negative impact (red). This graphic is reproduced with permission by Bill Reed in my 2016 book ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures
Loess Plateau in China — Source
This 90 second video was produced by the media team at IED, Madrid, while I gave a workshop for their Masters in Design and Innovation in 2015.
Loess Plateau in China — Source
Permaculture Project in the Jordan Valley — Source
Manila, Philipines — waterway regeneration by Biomatrix Water — Source — see also this short video

“The Earth must have the potential of reaching, an “Evolutionary Climax Equilibrium”. This means that the soil, oceans, plants, animals, atmosphere, water cycle and the Earth’s climate can interact in a natural way as they did without human interference. If we are conscious of this and do not interfere with the Earth Systems, then this is possible. Knowledge is responsibility. To know that the Earth’s systems are symbiotic, living systems is to realize that it is our choice whether we will restore the Earth or whether we will continue to pretend that our interests are different that those of all living things.”

— John D. Liu (2016)

Illustration from Designing Regenerative Cultures
The 4 Returns approach developed by Willem Ferwerda and the Commonland Foundation is creating a feasible pathway to begin this important work.

Catalysing transformative innovation, cultural co-creation, whole systems design, and bioregional regeneration. Author of Designing Regenerative Cultures