Regenerative Economics challenges some deeply held assumptions about how the world works. It challenges mindsets that make it harder for us to see better alternatives. It can help us identify "ways to win" instead of "lose more slowly" as we address environmental and social problems.
For example, regenerative economics assumes that people are prime movers, not bystanders, in determining the direction of ecosystems and society. It challenges the idea that political economics is like physics with immutable laws instead of a game with rules we create by mutual agreement.
Regenerative approaches strive for abundance and don’t assume scarcity. If the traditional definition of economics is to “study the allocation of scarce resources” than regenerative economics might instead be to “develop and share abundant resources.” This frame focuses on opportunities to “create” rather than “extract” or “consume”. The goal isn’t to “sustain” but “improve” or “extend”.
Examples from agriculture, particularly those from Ashoka’s Nutrient's for All work and Sanjayan’s PBS TV series Earth a New Wild, helped make the point for me. It isn’t enough just to grow more wheat. We need more nutritious food and richer soil from healthier families.
A few examples of mindset-breaking in practice below.
This week the US Executive Office announced its intent to incorporate natural infrastructure and ecosystem services into decision frameworks across all federal agencies. Many of those within the ecosystem services community agree it's a major milestone, although implementation will tell if this is the true makings of a paradigm shift.
Coral gardeners doing their part to restore the declining reefs in Fiji. Unfortunately, funding for this project has stopped...
And, in closing
We are very early in the process of defining what it means to build a regenerative economy. We are studying, testing, building interest and support. Thus this newsletter, which will come out weekly with brief observations and links to related materials exploring innovation and the regenerative economy. With effort, and a bit of luck, we hope support for these concepts becomes a wave sweeping the world!
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