We've been digging a hole for 240 years. In the last 240 years, human activities have already damaged many natural systems and resources. Sustainability will not be enough to restore these systems to their natural state. Regenerative practices are necessary to restore and renew essential biological systems and resources. We’ve been digging a hole for 240 years, when you’re in hole, you need to get out. Climate warming is with us today, being sustainable would only perpetuate that.
Change is accelerating. Climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion are accelerating global challenges that require urgent action and reversal. We need more than a goal of sustainability to address these challenges, we need to do more than slow down the rate of environmental degradation, we need to reverse it and regenerate the natural world. We need to build capacity into our environment to support future growth.
To balance the climate books, many businesses and people will need to be NET POSITIVE to balance off those that are NET NEGATIVE, and to build capacity into the environment to manage an expanding global economy and population.
Doing less harm is not a good thing. Sustainability creates the idea that less harm is a good thing, which is a dangerous mindset, and can only lead a managed decline and collapse, not renewal, rebuild and regeneration. Less harm is still creating further harm and damage. The goal of NET ZERO can be achieved by offsetting carbon emissions just as it can by reducing them, so it doesn’t encourage the right behaviour. It may be more cost effective for a company to buy offsets than reduce emissions. And offsets don’t match the emissions of today as it can take decades to grow a useful tree.
Sustainability focuses on reducing the adverse effects on the environment and society, but it will need to do more to create a positive impact. Regenerative practices focus on creating a net positive effect. Sustainability may be viewed as an add-on rather than an integral part of business operations. To be effective, regeneration needs to be integrated into core business practices and decision-making processes.
Sustainability goals of 2030 and 2050 are vague and distant. How would sustainability be measured? Would this include offsets that may take another 20 years to be realised? These goals create short-term thinking and quick fixes. A long-term view is necessary to address the root causes of environmental and social challenges and create a sustainable and regenerative future.
It’s creates the wrong mindset. "Sustainability" creates the idea that there is today a steady state, a balance and equilibrium between all things and that all we need do is maintain and sustain that. This is wrong, there is only accelerating change all around us. Failing to acknowledge this and live like this is true will cause further delays in taking the action needed.
Sustainability and regenerative initiatives need more attention from employees, customers, and the wider community. This can lead to limited buy-in and inadequate implementation.
It's creates the wrong goal and lacks vision. There is no vision in the idea of sustainability, it does not motivate over delivery, people to excel, innovate and develop regenerative technologies for a better world. The thought of failing to reach a sustainability goal is more likely to induce panic, and cause people to do less, not more. It’s important for people to know that are working towards a plan of a better world and future.
People whose lives are hard and difficult today will not make sacrifices for tomorrow.
As the economy tightens up, becomes more sluggish, and harder for people to earn a good living, resentment will increase. When people are suffering today, they will not be think about the future of the planet or consider collective actions to reverse climate change. They will think about themselves first, if not only. This goes for environmental collapse as migrations increase and for population collapse. People struggling to survive, worried about tomorrow will not decide to have children, and a very fast slide in societal collapse and conflict will ensue.
Sustainability may not have sufficient financial or regulatory incentives to drive widespread adoption. Without appropriate incentives, businesses may not prioritise sustainability in their operations.
Overall, while sustainability is an important concept, it is only the first step towards creating a regenerative future.
By addressing climate change today, businesses can mitigate risks, create new opportunities for growth and innovation, and adopt regenerative practices, long-term thinking, stakeholder engagement, and integration into core business practices to create a regenerative and thriving future for all.
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