Sustainability to Regeneration

Moving from Sustainability to Regeneration

Today I chatted with Sheridan from ABC Radio Sunshine Coast on why we need to move from thinking about sustainability to thinking about regeneration.  Regeneration is a big idea that is gaining traction as more people realise that sustainability will not heal the planet.

We need to move from talking about sustainability and start to learn more about regeneration.  In order to move away from sustainability and towards regeneration we need to understand why sustainability no longer serves us and why regeneration is imperative to heal the planet.

Transitioning from Sustainability to Regeneration


Sustainability is a word that is thrown around a lot.  Simply sustainability means “to sustain” to maintain and keep something at the same level.  The UN defines sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  When it comes to the environment, the Cambridge Dictionary says sustainability is “the quality of causing little to no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.”

Sustainability is also commonly interchanged with ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ but they are different.  If you can do something indefinitely, its sustainable.  If you can’t then it’s not.


Regeneration is not just a new word to replace the now-overused word sustainability.  It is the next step when moving away from a degenerative system that pollutes and waste resources towards a model of living that restores the environment and society.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, regeneration is “the act of improving a place or system, especially by making it more active or successful”.  As a verb it means “to improve a place or system so that it is active or producing good results again.

We can use nature as our guide as it is regenerative.  Nature does not deplete itself.  It is a virtuous system with every part playing it part in a forever living, and thriving system.

At its core regeneration is a process.  A process by which a living entity continually re-creates itself in response to the subtle and dynamic changes in its environment, continually edging into its uniqueness as a thriving system.


When we focus on sustainability we focus on the parts, the manageable components of the whole without understanding the complexity of the whole.  This reductionist approach results in unpredictable and unintended consequences.  Regeneration requires, no demands us to change our thinking, altering our approach to how we restore and heal the planet.

Sustainability to Regeneration

We have and opportunity to observe the systems we live in and look at how we can respond to them rather than trying to force the systems around us to change.  Regeneration is a big idea, but that does not mean we should not try to move towards it.  Let’s start moving away from thinking in parts (sustainability) towards thinking in whole (regeneration).  

Check out this great video The Regenerates its not a slick documentary but an honest one.  A little dated but still stands true.