What does regeneration look like?

An earlier post outlined regeneration drawing on Daniel Wahl’s Designing Regenerative Cultures

regenerative design framework

The regenerative design framework from Designing Regenerative Cultures (excuse the spelling errors)

It is easy to envision what regenerative agriculture looks like – growing carbon rich topsoil, with minimal external inputs and diverse plants and animals – but not so easy in other sectors.


There are parallels between agriculture and health. Over the last century we have shifted away from holistic agriculture and health and have come to depend evermore on high levels of inputs. In agriculture nutrients are supplied often as single elements, and medicine uses chemical compounds as its default treatment.

Regenerative health could be characterised by forging stronger links between health and diet. Regeneration requires listening and learning from nature, so we will learn more about our own bodies and learn to sharpen our intuition about what helps or hinders health. This process will be aided by cheap and ubiquitous technologies that enable us to monitor our own health. There is also a new focus on the importance of gut health and there are striking similarities between the human gut and healthy soil.

In this video Joachim Hedenius outlines how technology will democratise healthcare. Referring back to  Designing Regenerative Cultures he is describing disruptive innovations that will eventually help to create more viable healthcare.

Manufacturing and construction

Most manufacturing processes are at the conventional end of the regeneration continuum. Take house construction in New Zealand for example. Most construction sites have skip bins to dispose of waste materials paid for by the purchaser. This video from Ellen McArthur Foundation illustrates a different approach, the circular economy.

Case studies on the circular economy are available here.

The late Ray Anderson set Interface carpets on a zero carbon target. This inspiring video shows how “Networks” retrieves abandoned fishing nets to recycle as raw material for carpets.

Urban design

Displacing vegetation with roads and buildings adds directly to global warming. The cooling effect of transpiring plants is lost and hard constructed surfaces both absorb solar radiation and re-reflect heated air. The cities we live in now import energy and resources and generate a lot of waste.

Regenerative Cities, by the World Future Council, outlines the development of the “agropolis”, cities of the agricultural age, morphing to the “petropolis”, cityscapes shaped by fossil fuels and anticipates the development of the “ecopolis”. Our challenge is create cities that enhance the natural world.

Cities take resources from nature. The new challenge is for cities to find ways to continuously help regenerate natural systems from which they draw resources (Regenerative Cities,page 16).

Blockchain – enabling technology

Here is a definition of blockchain from Investopedia.

A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized,  public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks (the most recent transactions) are recorded and added to it in chronological order, it allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping. Each node (a computer connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically.

This video has a  very clear explanation of blockchain.

While blockchain was first associated with cryptocurrencies, people are getting excited about the range of applications they can be used for. For example, in agriculture they can be used for verification of food quality or production systems, replacing expensive certification processes. They will enable digital voting that is almost impossible to corrupt, and smart contracts, mentioned toward the end of the video, will enable payment to be automatically processed when specified conditions are met, ending the tyranny of those businesses that take a long time to pay.

Here is Derek Myers describing how The Zero Carbon Project will use blockchain to mitigate climate change.

The Regen Network is using blockchain to reward farmers who sequester carbon. You can download their white paper from this page.

These are just a few ideas on how regeneration might be applied to different sectors to help us achieve a viable world. Please share your thoughts as a comment.


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